COMSTOCK PARK, MI - More than 10 hours after Saturday's split doubleheader began, the Whitecaps persevered through 11 innings and steady rain to split the twin bill with a 6-5 walk-off win in the nightcap at Fifth Third Ballpark.
The day began with an unlikely 5-4 loss in the afternoon contest. West Michigan (2-1, 43-30) was one out away from extending their franchise record-tying 10-game winning streak when outfielder Raph Rhymes stumbled and fell on a line drive, leading to a pair of runs that gave Fort Wayne (1-2, 31-41) the victory.
As fate would have it, Rhymes bounced back in the second game to play the role of hero with a 2-for-6 night that included three RBI and the walk-off hit in the bottom of the 11th inning.
The game had been tied at 5-5 since the sixth inning when the TinCaps mounted a serious threat in the top of the 11th, putting runners at the corners with one out against Montreal Robertson. But the next batter ripped a bouncer towards second baseman Javier Betancourt, who held the runner at third before starting a 4-6-3 double play. Two batters later, Robertson induced a fielder's choice to escape the jam.
In the bottom of the 11th, Betancourt reached third base with one out on a throwing error by third baseman Dustin Peterson, who bobbled the sharp grounder before bouncing his throw past the first baseman.
That set the stage for Rhymes, who bounced the very next pitch through the middle for a 6-5 victory.
Robertson (3-3) earned the win with a scoreless top of the 11th inning. Jeffrey Enloe (0-1) suffered the tough-luck loss in his Midwest League debut, allowing one unearned run and one hit over 1.1 otherwise solid innings.
Prior to the extra-inning finish, the Whitecaps blew a 4-0 lead only to come back and tie the game.
Rhymes drove in a first-inning run with a groundout and West Michigan added three more runs in the third. After Wynton Bernard smacked a run-scoring triple and later crossed the plate on a wild pitch, Rhymes added an RBI-double to stake the 'Caps to the four-run margin.
But the TinCaps responded, rattling off four runs during a rally that started with two outs and the bases empty in the top of the fifth. The big sequence was a nine-pitch at-bat by Henry Charles that resulted in a two-run triple and cut the margin to 4-3. Josh VanMeter capped the rally with an RBI-single and Jake Bauers added the go-ahead single in the fifth as Fort Wayne used five unanswered runs to capture a 5-4 edge.
West Michigan re-tied the score in the sixth when Bennett Pickar scored on a two-out wild pitch, setting the stage for the 5-5 deadlock that persisted all the way into the 11th inning.
The Whitecaps wrap up their four-game series against the Fort Wayne TinCaps on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. at Fifth Third Ballpark. RHP Austin Kubitza (6-0, 2.17) is scheduled to pitch for West Michigan against LHP Payton Baskette (2-3, 4.58) for Fort Wayne. In addition to a Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Family Day, the Whitecaps will be wearing special pink jerseys and raising money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation on Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Season, 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.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.