COMSTOCK PARK, MI - With a tie score in the bottom of the ninth inning on Monday night, Lance Durham blasted a titanic three-run homer to lead the West Michigan Whitecaps to a 4-1 walk-off victory over the Lake County Captains at Fifth Third Ballpark.
The moonshot capped a second consecutive walk-off win for West Michigan (32-30, 65-67). The 'Caps continue to hang around in the Eastern Division playoff picture, keeping their elimination number at two following losses by both Great Lakes and Dayton on Monday.
The win also clinched the Whitecaps' first three-game series sweep at Fifth Third Ballpark this year while wrapping up their season-series against Lake County (30-34, 53-78) with a dominant 10-2 record.
A pitchers' duel early, Monday's game was scoreless until the Whitecaps pushed across a single run in the sixth and the Captains tied it with their lone tally in the eighth.
Tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Jason King led off the inning with a single that bounced through the left side of the infield. Jeff Holm followed with a bunt, reaching base safely after pitcher Geoff Davenport stumbled while fielding the ball and threw wildly to first.
With Durham due up next, the Captains' appeared to be expecting a bunt.
The slugger had other ideas, blasting the first pitch he saw into orbit for a no-doubt three-run homer to right field. Durham's team-leading 16th home run of the year secured the 4-1 victory and delivered the Whitecaps their fourth consecutive win. It was also the eighth walk-off triumph of the year for West Michigan, coming on the heels of a walk-off single by Jared Reaves to close out Sunday's win.
Prior to the jaw-dropping longball, the early action was dominated by pitching.
West Michigan's Endrys Briceno dealt six shutout innings, benefitting from three double plays to keep the Captains off the scoreboard. Lake County's Dylan Baker also cruised, allowing just two hits over his six innings of work. Baker retired 15 of the first 17 batters that he faced, but a double by Harold Castro in the sixth inning set the table for a sacrifice fly by Reaves to put the Whitecaps ahead, 1-0.
The slim lead remained until the top of the eighth, when closer Corey Knebel entered the game in search of a five-out save with one out and LeVon Washington at first base. Before he threw his first pitch, however, Knebel bounced an errant pickoff throw past first base that allowed Washington to race all the way to third. Moments later, Washington scampered home with an unearned run thanks to a wild pitch that tied the game at 1-1.
Knebel (2-0) went on to earn the win with 1.2 innings of hitless relief. The blown save was just his first as a professional, snapping a stretch of 13 consecutive saves converted since being selected by the Detroit Tigers with the 39th overall pick of the 2013 draft and assigned to West Michigan.
Davenport (0-1) suffered the loss, allowing three runs - two earned - on three hits over two innings.
After a day off on Tuesday, the Whitecaps continue their final homestand of the regular season on Wednesday night with a doubleheader at 6:05 p.m. against the Fort Wayne TinCaps. LHP Jordan John (8-4, 2.91) is scheduled to pitch for West Michigan in Game 1 with RHP Jeff Thompson (1-2, 4.28) set to start Game 2. Fans will be treated to a pre-game giveaway of the Whitecaps' 20th Anniversary Team card set, an appearance by former American League MVP Denny McClain, and post-game fireworks presented by Family Fare. Group and individual tickets can be reserved by calling the Whitecaps front office at 616-784-4131 or visiting www.whitecapsbaseball.com.
Click here to view the box score.