COMSTOCK PARK, MI - All good things must come to an end.
On Friday night at Fifth Third Ballpark, the home portion of the 2013 season and the West Michigan Whitecaps' season-long seven-game winning streak both came to an end with a 5-1 loss against the Fort Wayne TinCaps.
West Michigan (35-31, 68-68) suffered their first loss since August 22 while finishing just short of a perfect seven-game homestand. The defeat did not dampen the spirits of another boisterous crowd of 8,677, however, as the total attendance at Fifth Third Ballpark climbed to 377,948 for the year - the largest single-season attendance total since 2004.
Despite another fantastic starting pitching performance by the Whitecaps, it was a pair of home runs by Fort Wayne (26-41, 69-67) that helped the TinCaps avoid a four-game sweep.
Mallex Smith gave the visitors an early edge by leading off the game with a solo homer, but that turned out to be the only run allowed by Whitecaps' starter Edgar De La Rosa. The 6-foot-6 right-hander gave up just four hits over five solid innings with two strikeouts and no walks. He did not figure into the decision.
Trailing 1-0, West Michigan tied the game in the bottom of the fifth against reliever Joe Church.
Jason King led off the inning with a walk and benefitted from a single and a groundout to advance to third. With two outs, a wild pitch allowed King to scamper home with the Whitecaps' only run of the night, tying the score at 1-1.
The deadlock remained until the top of the seventh, when Fort Wayne mounted a rally against reliever Josh Turley.
With a runner at third and two outs, TinCaps' manager Jose Valentin was determined to bring home the go-ahead run. He summoned San Diego Padres' first-round pick Hunter Renfroe - the 13th overall pick in the 2013 draft - from the bench to pinch-hit, and the former Mississippi State star did not disappoint.
On a 2-0 count, Renfroe clobbered the go-ahead two-run homer to center field to put Fort Wayne in front, 3-1.
The TinCaps went on to add single runs in the eighth and ninth innings to cement the 5-1 victory.
Church (3-3) earned the win with three innings of relief, allowing one run on two hits and three walks.
Turley (8-4) suffered the loss for West Michigan, giving up two runs on three hits in two innings of work.
The Whitecaps close out the regular season with a three-game road series against the Lansing Lugnuts that begins at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday night at Cooley Law School Stadium. RHP Jake Thompson (3-3, 3.10) is scheduled to pitch for West Michigan against RHP Eric Brown (2-3, 3.90) of Lansing. The Whitecaps will not have another home game until the 2014 season, which will include the 50th annual Midwest League All-Star Game on June 17 at Fifth Third Ballpark.
Click here to view the box score.