LANSING, MI - The West Michigan Whitecaps dropped their final game of the 2013 season on Monday, losing by a 9-4 score to the Lansing Lugnuts at Cooley Law School Stadium.
The loss slipped West Michigan (36-33, 69-70) one game below .500 for the season despite a strong finish in which the 'Caps won eight of their last 11 games. The Whitecaps ended the year with a losing record for the first time since 2010, which was also the last time West Michigan qualified for the post-season.
The Whitecaps controlled the first half of the game before Lansing (29-41, 61-78) jumped ahead with an eight-run outburst in the bottom of the sixth. Starter Jeff Thompson carried a three-hit shutout and a 4-0 lead into the inning, but a series of defensive miscues and two key errors spurred the decisive rally.
Following a pair of one-out walks, Kevin Patterson singled home a run with a grounder through the right side. He was nearly gunned down after an aggressive turn around first, getting back to the bag just in time. Santiago Nessy then sent a two-hopper to the right side, but the ball bounced off first baseman Lance Durham's glove for an error and dribbled into right-center field as another run scored.
Yorfrank Lopez took over on a pitching change, but the rally was just getting started. Daniel Klein's RBI-double made it a one-run game and Jason Leblebijian tied the score with a single to center. Following an error by second baseman Harold Castro, run-scoring hits by Carlos Ramirez and Chris Hawkins capped the rally and put Lansing ahead by a commanding 8-4 margin.
Seventh-inning doubles by Nessy and Klein pushed the lead to 9-4, sealing the Whitecaps' fate.
Ian Kadish (5-4) earned the win for Lansing with three shutout innings of relief, while Lopez (8-5) gave up five runs on five hits over 1.2 innings for the loss.
Prior to the game-changing sixth inning, the Whitecaps had seized a 4-0 lead with a two-out rally in the fifth.
After the first two batters of the frame were struck out by Lugnuts' starter Kendall Gravemen, the next six batters reached base consecutively. Connor Harrell was hit by a pitch before groundball singles by Jeff Holm and Bennett Pickar broke up the scoreless tie. Castro and Jason King followed with consecutive doubles to complete the four-run rally.
Holm, Pickar, Castro and King all registered two-hit games in the losing effort.
Click here to view the box score.