COMSTOCK PARK, MI - For the second straight night, a South Bend Silver Hawks' starting pitcher carried a two-hit shutout into the ninth inning.
After pulling off a thrilling walk-off rally the night before, however, the West Michigan Whitecaps went down quietly on Wednesday in a 5-1 loss at Fifth Third Ballpark.
South Bend (28-23, 68-52) starting pitcher Ryan Doran was dominant in his third Midwest League start, twirling a complete-game three-hitter despite losing his shutout bid in the bottom of the ninth. West Michigan (32-19, 73-48) gathered just three baserunners, highlighted by a 2-for-3 night from MVP candidate Wynton Bernard that included a double and the Whitecaps' lone RBI.
Doran (1-0) struck out eight batters without issuing a walk while limiting the Whitecaps to one run on three hits. He threw 70 of his 93 pitches for strikes, facing the minimum through six innings and facing just two batters over the minimum in the ballgame.
Prior to the ninth, the only two hits he allowed were collected by Bernard. The 23-year-old outfielder singled in the fourth but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. Bernard later doubled to lead off the seventh, but was eventually thrown out at the plate on a fielders' choice as the Silver Hawks retained what was then a slim 1-0 lead.
The advantage was 5-0 when the 'Caps finally broke through in the ninth. Arvicent Perez led off with a double, took second on a fly-out, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Bernard to cap the scoring.
The Whitecaps' Matt Davenport (5-4) also turned in a sterling starting performance despite suffering the loss. The 6-foot-8 sidearmer worked a career-high 6.2 innings and notched a second consecutive quality start, allowing just one unearned run while scattering seven singles and inducing a pair of groundball double plays. Davenport struck out three and walked two.
The only run against him came in the top of the sixth. After the Whitecaps' middle infielders let a ball drop into shallow center to put a runner at second with one out, Chuck Taylor looped the next pitch into right-center field to give the Silver Hawks a 1-0 edge.
But unlike Tuesday night, when West Michigan was able to hold the deficit at 1-0 before mounting a rally in the bottom of the ninth, the bullpen was unable to hold in South Bend on Wednesday.
Taylor was the primary culprit, reaching base in four of his five plate appearances as part of a 2-for-3, two-RBI night. He sparked a rally in the eighth inning by working a 12-pitch at-bat against Julio Felix, ultimately drawing a one-out walk. Later in the inning, the bases were loaded when Justin Williams lined a two-run single into left to stretch the lead to 3-0.
In the ninth, South Bend added two more runs on two hits and two errors. Taylor was right in the middle of things again, capping the rally with an RBI-single to provide the visitors with a 5-0 cushion heading into the home half of the ninth.
The Whitecaps conclude a brief three-game homestand at Fifth Third Ballpark on Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. against the South Bend Silver Hawks. RHP Austin Kubitza (10-1, 2.58) is scheduled to pitch for West Michigan against LHP Anthony Banda (7-6, 3.33) of South Bend on Stand Up to Cancer Night, which will also feature $2 food and beverage specials on an Altogas Thrifty Thursday. 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.