Cameron Maybin and Matthew Joyce drove in two runs apiece as visiting West Michigan edged Kane County, 4-3, on Wednesday to even the best-of-5 Midwest League Finals.
The Whitecaps got on the board with three runs in the fourth inning off Cougars starter Joe Piekarz. Justin Justice and Michael Hernandez led off with singles and Maybin followed with a triple off the right-field fence. The 19-year-old center fielder came home when second baseman Isaac Omura misplayed Joyce's grounder.
"(Piekarz) is a lefty who doesn't throw too hard," said Maybin, who nabbed Prospect of the Year honors earlier this month. "He left a change-up in the middle of the plate. Anytime you do something to contribute, it feels good."
With the score knotted in the eighth, 3-3, Jeramy Laster drew a one-out walk off starter Joe Piekarz and advanced to third on Justice's single. After reliever Joey Newby struck out Hernandez and intentionally walked Maybin, Brad Kilby came in and plunked Joyce to plate Laster with the go-ahead run.
"We tried to get both games, but it's tough to win on the road," Maybin said. "We're definitely upbeat about going back with a split. With three games at home, we definitely like our chances."
Whitecaps reliever Phil Napolitan (1-0) scattered two hits over two scoreless innings for the win. Anthony Claggett recorded the final five outs to notch his second save of the postseason.
Starter Lucas French, who celebrated his 21st birthday on Thursday, gave up three runs -- one earned -- on four hits over 5 1/3 innings. He fanned four and walked one.
The Cougars scored once in the first and twice in the sixth. Chad Boyd, who homered in the opening frame, slapped a leadoff single in the sixth and moved up when French booted Jeffrey Baisley's grounder.
Raul Padron followed with an run-scoring single, but got caught in a rundown. Baisley alertly broke for home and barreled over Joel Roa, knocking the ball loose and tying the game, 3-3.
Boyd went 3-for-4 with two runs scored.
Piekarz (1-1) surrendered four runs on four hits and two walks while striking out six over 7 1/3 innings. The 24-year-old retired the first nine batters -- six straight on strikeouts -- before allowing three consecutive hits in the fourth.
West Michigan hosts Game 3 at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday.