COMSTOCK PARK, MI - Thursday was just one of those nights for the West Michigan Whitecaps.
After committing five errors and serving up 13 hits, the Whitecaps lost the rubber match of a three-game series, 10-2, to the South Bend Silver Hawks at Fifth Third Ballpark.
The ballgame was a pitchers' duel through the first five innings, but a 1-0 game spiraled out of control when South Bend (29-23, 69-52) scored three runs in three consecutive innings against the West Michigan (32-20, 73-49) bullpen.
Austin Kubitza (10-2) suffered just his second loss of the season for the Whitecaps despite allowing only one earned run on three hits over 5.2 frames.
Initially, he fell behind during a two-out rally in the top of the third. After opening the frame with consecutive strikeouts, Andrew Velazquez bunted for a single, Chuck Taylor drew a walk, and Midwest League RBI-leader Daniel Palka ripped a groundball single through the right side for a 1-0 lead.
Kubitza worked into the sixth inning before a two-out error and a walk ended his night with the bases loaded.
Reliever Trent Szkutnik took over but could not work out of the jam, allowing all three of the inherited runners to score. The 20-year-old lefty walked the first batter he faced to force in a run. Velazquez followed with an RBI-single to right, and a second run scored on the play when the ball was bobbled in the outfield.
Though he entered play with a solid 2.70 ERA, Szkutnik's night took a turn for the worse when the Silver Hawks plated three more runs against him in both the seventh and eighth innings to tag him for six runs, five of which were earned. The seventh-inning rally consisted of three hits and another error combined with a walk and a hit batsman to push South Bend's lead to 7-0.
West Michigan got their only runs in the bottom of the seventh on a two-run homer by Jeff Holm, but the Silver Hawks rattled off five straight one-out hits to put the game away in the top of the eighth. By the time Joe Munoz drilled a two-out triple and scored on an infield hit by Justin Williams, the dust settled with a 10-2 lead for the visitors.
Anthony Banda (8-6) earned the win, striking out 10 batters without issuing a walk and taking a shutout into the seventh before giving up the home run to Holm. Banda was charged with two runs on six hits over 6.1 innings.
The Whitecaps hit the road for a three-game series against the Great Lakes Loons starting at 7:05 p.m. on Friday night. RHP Jon Maciel (5-6, 4.11) is scheduled to pitch for West Michigan against RHP Brandon Martinez (1-7, 4.34) of Great Lakes. The next home game at Fifth Third Ballpark will be on Monday night at 7:00 p.m. with half-price box or reserved seats available to fans that bring a church or community bulletin to the box office on a JQ99 FM All Faith's Night. 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.