COMSTOCK PARK, MI - All good things must come to an end.
On Friday night at Fifth Third Ballpark, the home portion of the 2013 season and the West Michigan Whitecaps' season-long seven-game winning streak both came to an end with a 5-1 loss against the Fort Wayne TinCaps.
West Michigan (35-31, 68-68) suffered their first loss since August 22 while finishing just short of a perfect seven-game homestand. The defeat did not dampen the spirits of another boisterous crowd of 8,677, however, as the total attendance at Fifth Third Ballpark climbed to 377,948 for the year - the largest single-season attendance total since 2004.
Despite another fantastic starting pitching performance by the Whitecaps, it was a pair of home runs by Fort Wayne (26-41, 69-67) that helped the TinCaps avoid a four-game sweep.
Mallex Smith gave the visitors an early edge by leading off the game with a solo homer, but that turned out to be the only run allowed by Whitecaps' starter Edgar De La Rosa. The 6-foot-6 right-hander gave up just four hits over five solid innings with two strikeouts and no walks. He did not figure into the decision.
Trailing 1-0, West Michigan tied the game in the bottom of the fifth against reliever Joe Church.
Jason King led off the inning with a walk and benefitted from a single and a groundout to advance to third. With two outs, a wild pitch allowed King to scamper home with the Whitecaps' only run of the night, tying the score at 1-1.
The deadlock remained until the top of the seventh, when Fort Wayne mounted a rally against reliever Josh Turley.
With a runner at third and two outs, TinCaps' manager Jose Valentin was determined to bring home the go-ahead run. He summoned San Diego Padres' first-round pick Hunter Renfroe - the 13th overall pick in the 2013 draft - from the bench to pinch-hit, and the former Mississippi State star did not disappoint.
On a 2-0 count, Renfroe clobbered the go-ahead two-run homer to center field to put Fort Wayne in front, 3-1.
The TinCaps went on to add single runs in the eighth and ninth innings to cement the 5-1 victory.
Church (3-3) earned the win with three innings of relief, allowing one run on two hits and three walks.
Turley (8-4) suffered the loss for West Michigan, giving up two runs on three hits in two innings of work.
The Whitecaps close out the regular season with a three-game road series against the Lansing Lugnuts that begins at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday night at Cooley Law School Stadium. RHP Jake Thompson (3-3, 3.10) is scheduled to pitch for West Michigan against RHP Eric Brown (2-3, 3.90) of Lansing. The Whitecaps will not have another home game until the 2014 season, which will include the 50th annual Midwest League All-Star Game on June 17 at Fifth Third Ballpark.
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.