June 7, 2012 - Midwest League (MWL) - West Michigan Whitecaps
COMSTOCK PARK, MI - Curt Casali went 4-for-5 with three doubles and the West Michigan Whitecaps took advantage of a series of miscues by the Fort Wayne TinCaps to pull away for an 11-2 blowout win on Thursday night at Fifth Third Ballpark.
A crowd of 7,852 saw West Michigan (30-30) return to the .500 mark for the first time since May 8. The Whitecaps have won a season-high five in a row and nine of their last 10 to pull within two games of a potential playoff spot with 10 games remaining in the first half.
Early on, the Whitecaps took advantage of sloppy play by Fort Wayne (27-33) to jump ahead.
With a runner at third and two outs in the opening frame, TinCaps' ace Adys Portillo struck out Dean Green swinging on a breaking ball down and in - but the ball bounced past the catcher for a wild pitch as the first run of the game crossed the plate. Green advanced to second on a throwing error, and scored for a 2-0 lead when Casali's routine fly ball to right dropped in between three fielders.
In the second, West Michigan added three unearned runs without the benefit of a hit. After Portillo walked the first two batters of the inning, a pair of errors by third baseman Duanel Jones and a run-scoring groundout by Steven Moya helped the 'Caps to a 5-0 lead.
The game tightened up in the middle innings and Fort Wayne got as close as 6-2, but the TinCaps stranded 14 runners on base and could not get over the hump.
West Michigan blew the game open with five runs over the seventh and eighth innings.
Casali capped his big night with a ground-rule double that plated a run in the seventh, while Aaron Westlake followed with a two-run double that capped a three-run rally. In the eighth, Green bounced a two-out, two-run single up the middle to put the finishing touches on the 11-2 victory.
Jeff Ferrell (2-1) was awarded the win out of the Whitecaps' bullpen, while Portillo (4-3) - who entered the game with a league-leading 1.66 ERA - took the loss after allowing five runs - one earned - in just one inning of work.
Frustrations boiled over in the late-going for a struggling Fort Wayne club that has lost nine of their last 13 games, as a series of beanballs led to a benches-clearing situation in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Whitecaps continue their final homestand of the first half on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. with the finale of a three-game series against the Fort Wayne TinCaps. RHP Wilsen Palacios (6-3, 4.12) is scheduled to take the hill for the Whitecaps against RHP Colin Rea (0-3, 3.18) of the TinCaps. It will be the first Tiger Friday of the season, featuring a bobblehead giveaway and an appearance by former Detroit Tigers' star Lance Parrish. Group and individual tickets can be reserved by calling the Whitecaps front office at 616-784-4131 or visiting www.whitecapsbaseball.com.