COMSTOCK PARK, MI - The West Michigan Whitecaps were burned by one of their own on Sunday afternoon, done in by a go-ahead home run from former teammate Adolfo Reina in a 4-2 loss at Fifth Third Ballpark.
Reina played 55 games with West Michigan (2-2, 43-31) last season before being acquired by the San Diego Padres from the Detroit Tigers in the Rule 5 Draft over the off-season. In 22 games with Fort Wayne (2-2, 32-41) this year, both of his home runs have been game-winning blasts against the Whitecaps.
After slugging a 10th-inning walk-off homer against West Michigan on May 31 in Fort Wayne, Reina clubbed a two-run homer in the third inning on Sunday that proved to be the game-winning blow.
The decisive longball came moments after the Whitecaps took a brief lead in the bottom of the second inning. Trailing 1-0, Dominic Ficociello led off with a bunt-single and scored when Jeff Holm belted a double that short-hopped the wall in center field. Later in the inning, the bases were loaded when Pat Leyland chipped in with a run-scoring groundout for a 2-1 lead.
But the offense stalled from that point forward.
With runners at second and third and just one out, the 'Caps were unable to add another run in the second. They went on to strand six men on base through the first five innings before going hitless the rest of the way. The 'Caps mustered just one baserunner over the final four innings on a sixth-inning walk.
Meanwhile, the TinCaps benefitted from Reina's homer in the third and a sacrifice fly by Jake Bauers in the fifth to take a 4-2 lead. Bauers played a role in all three Fort Wayne rallies, going 2-for-2 with a run and two RBI.
Payton Baskette (3-3) scattered seven hits over six innings and limited the Whitecaps to just two runs for the win. Fort Wayne relievers Eric Yardley and Nick Mutz (8) combined for three perfect innings the rest of the way. All together, the trio retired the final 10 batters of the game and faced the minimum over the last four innings.
West Michigan starter Austin Kubitza (6-1) suffered his first loss of the season, allowing four runs on five hits and five walks with seven strikeouts in four innings.
With a 2-for-3 game, Ficociello extended his hitting streak to 17 games - the longest active batting streak in the Midwest League and tied for the fifth-longest streak in Whitecaps' franchise history. During the stretch, Ficociello is batting .403 with three home runs and 14 runs scored.
The Whitecaps are off on Monday before opening a three-game road series against the Lansing Lugnuts at 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday night at Cooley Law School Stadium. RHP Jon Maciel (3-3, 3.27) is scheduled to pitch for West Michigan against LHP Matt Dermody (3-4, 6.20) of Lansing. The next home game at Fifth Third Ballpark will be a Tiger Friday featuring Glenn Wilson and a Living Baseball Card giveaway on Friday, June 27, at 7:00 p.m. Season, group and individual tickets can be reserved by calling the Whitecaps' front office at 616-784-4131 or visiting www.whitecapsbaseball.com.
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