COMSTOCK PARK, MI - The West Michigan Whitecaps scored late to take a two-run lead but faltered in the ninth inning as part of a 5-4 loss to the Bowling Green Hot Rods Monday night at Fifth Third Ballpark.
The Whitecaps broke a 2-2 tie with a pair of runs in the eighth, only to see their bullpen unable to hold the advantage for the second time in as many days. During the last three games, the West Michigan bullpen has taken the loss in each contest while allowing 17 runs with an 11.48 ERA over the stretch. The disappointing loss pushes the Whitecaps season-high losing streak to five games and eight losses in their last nine games.
Whitecaps starter Gio Arriera held a potent Hot Rods offense in check through his first three innings of work. Meanwhile, West Michigan broke through with two early runs off Bowling Green starter Shane Baz in the third inning. Johnny Valente highlighted the scoring with a run-scoring single to plate Jose King. Arriera danced out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth, but a run by the Hot Rods in both the fifth and sixth tied the game at two. The 'Caps took a 4-2 lead in the eighth on a run-scoring single by Ulrich Bojarski and a Rey Rivera RBI-double. Bowling Green spoiled the Whitecaps comeback and took a 5-4 lead with five base hits and three runs off 'Caps reliever Angel Reyes in the ninth. Run-scoring singles by Wander Franco -- one of the top prospects in baseball -- and Connor Hollis helped the Hot Rods tie the game and take the lead respectively.
Bowling Green outhit West Michigan 12 to 8, but Valente accounted for three hits on the night and extended his hitting streak to seven games. Arriera did not factor in the decision for the Whitecaps but pitched well, allowing only two runs in 5.2 innings, and striking out a season-high seven. Reyes (0-1) took the loss, allowed three runs and five hits while striking out two. Pitcher Jared Tobey was effective in relief for West Michigan, striking out three and relinquishing only one hit in 1.2 innings. For Bowling Green, Nick Padilla (4-1) earned the win despite giving up two earned runs, three hits, and two walks in three innings out of the bullpen. West Michigan falls to 8-15 at home and 17-26 overall for the season. Bowling Green improves to 25-19 and has won four of their last five games. While the Whitecaps .257 collective batting average ranks as the best in the Midwest League, their team ERA has sunken to the second-worst mark among the 16 teams at 4.64.
The Whitecaps and talented Bowling Green Hot Rods continue this four-game series Tuesday at 7:05 pm. Pitcher Chance Kirby starts for West Michigan against Hot Rods pitcher Matt Liberatore. Broadcast coverage with Dan Hasty and Mike Coleman begins on the Whitecaps Baseball Network at 6:55 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.