COMSTOCK PARK, MI - The West Michigan Whitecaps provided another pitching clinic in earning their Midwest League leading 18th shutout of the season in a 3-0 victory and series sweep of the Cedar Rapids Kernels in front of 6,525 fans at Fifth Third Ballpark Friday night.
The Whitecaps faced Kernels starter Clark Beeker, who sported an 8-2 record entering the series finale, and scored two runs in the first inning. After a Derek Hill leadoff walk, Danny Woodrow reached base on a fielding error by the Kernels Gorge Munoz. With Anthony Pereira at the plate, Hill and Woodrow manufactured a double steal, with the throw to second base sailing into centerfield, enabling Hill to score with ease. After Pereira popped out, Austin Athmann grounded out on a slow roller to third base but Woodrow race home on the play.
Whitecaps starter Greg Soto started strong as he racked up five strikeouts and only allowed a single and a walk through the first four innings. West Michigan tacked on their last run of the evening and a 3-0 lead in the third inning by way of a Danny Pinero double and a Cole Bauml RBI-single. Soto pitched through the sixth inning and accumulated eleven strikeouts on the night - one off his career-high. Only one batter reached second base off Soto, who gave up the lone walk - a big improvement over the six-walk performance in his last start July 6th. Zac Houston took over for West Michigan in the seventh inning and pitched two perfect innings of relief, recording three strikeouts. Eduardo Jimenez sealed the deal with a perfect ninth inning and racked up his fifth save of 2017. The shutout represented the 18th on the year for West Michigan, and their second of the series against Cedar Rapids. The 'Caps pitching staff allowed just two runs in the entire three-game series with Cedar Rapids. Soto (8-1) surrendered only three hits in his eighth victory, and is 4-0 in his last seven starts. Beeker (8-3) lost for the first time since May 19th after five innings allowing three runs (one earned). Cedar Rapids did not help their cause by recording four errors in the contest.
The 61-27 overall record for West Michigan represents a season-best 34 games over .500, and the; Caps also improved to 16-5 in the second half - winners of seven of the last eight games. Cedar Rapids fell to 49-43 overall with the defeat and 10-12 in the second half. Danny Pinero and Bauml each racked up two hits in the victory.
The Whitecaps bring the Quad Cities River Bandits for a three-game series beginning Saturday night at 7:00p.m. Pitcher Spenser Watkins gets the start for West Michigan against Quad Cities pitcher Cesar Rosado. Broadcast coverage with Dan Hasty and Mike Coleman begins on the Whitecaps Baseball Network at 6:50p.m. Tickets can be reserved for any Whitecaps 2017 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.