EASTLAKE, OH - The West Michigan Whitecaps kept the score close throughout a Saturday night contest but couldn't get the key hit in a 6-4 loss to the Lake County in front of 6,207 fans at Classic Park.
The Whitecaps record falls to 37-80 - marking the first 80-loss season in franchise history. They have lost eight of ten games in August. The 43 games under .500 is the farthest the 'Caps have ever been under the break-even mark. The Whitecaps went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base.
The Captains took an early lead and forced 'Caps starting pitcher Jesus Rodriguez to leave after just 1.2 frames with an apparent injury. Connor Smith opened the scoring with a two-out RBI-triple before a bases-loaded walk extended the Lake County lead to 2-0. The score remained the same until the fourth when a sacrifice fly by Jack Kenley put West Michigan on the board before a wild pitch plated Andre Lipcius to even the game at two. Johnny Valente followed with his third hit in as many at-bats - a run-scoring single to give West Michigan a 3-2 advantage. Meanwhile, reliever Zac Shepherd ran into trouble in the fifth, allowing three straight hits including a game-tying RBI-double by Jonathan Engelmann before leaving the ballgame. Lake County added two more in the frame to break the tie and take a 5-3 lead into the late stages of Saturday's contest and help the Captains pick up their tenth win in 15 games against West Michigan this season.
Shepherd (0-1) went 2.1 innings allowing three runs on four hits in his first loss in his first 2019 game with West Michigan. Lake County reliever Luis Araujo (3-4) tossed 1.2 innings allowing a run in his third win of 2019 while lefty Jake Meidnik finished the final two innings for his second save of the year. The Whitecaps fall to 16-32 in the second half and 37-80 overall while the Captains improve to 25-23 in the second half and 65-52 this season. Connor Smith led the Lake County offense by reaching base four times and went 3-for-4 with three RBI and finished the contest a home run shy of the cycle.
The Whitecaps continue this three-game series against the Lake County Captains at Classic Park Sunday at 7:00 pm. Pitcher Brad Bass starts for West Michigan against Lake County's Zach Draper. Broadcast coverage with Dan Hasty begins on the Whitecaps Baseball Network at 6:50 pm. Tickets are available for any Whitecaps 2019 home contest by calling the Whitecaps front office at 616-784-4131 or by visiting www.whitecapsbaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.