COMSTOCK PARK, MI - Grayson Greiner was 3-for-5 with a home run and a career-high four RBI on Thursday night, but the 2014 draftee was stranded at third base in the bottom of the ninth inning as the West Michigan Whitecaps suffered a 9-8 loss to the Lansing Lugnuts at Fifth Third Ballpark.
The Whitecaps celebrated Independence Day one night early in their homestand finale and a season-high crowd of 9,218 provided a festive atmosphere as West Michigan (8-6, 49-35) and Lansing (8-6, 40-43) battled to the final pitch in an action-packed, back-and-forth affair. The 'Caps finished their homestand with a 5-2 record despite dropping the rubber match of their three-game series against the Lugnuts.
The action was fast and furious from the outset. The two clubs combined for nine runs and 12 hits through the first inning and a half, and 12 of the first 13 runs that crossed the plate did so with two outs.
After falling behind 1-0 early, West Michigan rallied for five consecutive two-out singles in the bottom of the first to snatch a 3-1 lead. But Lansing answered with a two-out flurry of their own in the top of the second. During a rapid three-pitch sequence, D.J. Davis hit a two-run single and Matt Dean drilled a three-run homer as the Lugnuts jumped back in front, 6-3.
Whitecaps' pitchers Jonathon Crawford and Montreal Robertson regained control of the action for a while, holding the Lugnuts without a hit over the next four innings while the offense rallied to swing the momentum once again.
Greiner, the Detroit Tigers' third-round pick in the 2014 draft, laced a line drive in the third inning that banged off the foul pole for his second home run in just 10 professional games. He added a run-scoring groundout in the fifth before scoring on a game-tying triple by Willy Adames. Moments later, Pat Leyland lined a single to center and the home team grabbed a 7-6 advantage.
But Lansing responded with three runs against Robertson in the seventh and eighth innings. Davis led off the seventh with a triple to right-center and scored on a single by Dean - his fourth RBI of the night. In the eighth, Jason Leblebijian and Mike Reeves opened the inning with back-to-back doubles and Anthony Alford later added an RBI-single that staked the Lugnuts to a 9-7 lead.
The insurance run proved to be crucial. With Lansing closer Griffin Murphy on in the ninth inning, Greiner split the gap in right-center with a run-scoring double that trimmed the deficit to one run. Greiner was at second base with one out and later advanced to third on a two-out wild pitch, but the game ended with a fly-out by Leyland as Murphy held on for his league-leading 16th save.
Brady Dragmire (3-3) was the only Lansing pitcher that could keep the Whitecaps off the scoreboard, and the right-hander was rewarded with a win after working 3.1 scoreless innings of relief. Robertson (3-4) was charged with both the loss and a blown save after surrendering three runs in three innings out of the West Michigan bullpen.
The Whitecaps embark on their longest road trip since 2009 on Friday night, opening a 10-game road trek with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch against the Fort Wayne TinCaps at Parkview Field. RHP Buck Farmer (7-5, 3.20) is scheduled to pitch for West Michigan against RHP Jimmy Brasoban (0-2, 14.29) of Fort Wayne. The next home game at Fifth Third Ballpark will be on Wednesday, July 16, at 7:00 p.m. featuring the popular Aces in the Outfield promotion and post-game Family Fare fireworks. Season, 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.