Whitecaps Win Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive
COMSTOCK PARK, MI - With a 2018 post-season appearance on the line, the West Michigan Whitecaps rallied from an early deficit and edged the Fort Wayne TinCaps 2-1 on Sunday night in front of 7,252 frenzied fans at Fifth Third Ballpark.
The Whitecaps biggest win of the year now forces a showdown on Monday afternoon in the season finale, with the winner advancing to the Midwest League playoffs to face the Great Lakes Loons.
Whitecaps starter Elvin Rodriguez, who missed his last start due to injury, allowed just a single and walk through the first two innings, but the TinCaps struck in the third as a Jack Suwinski groundout provided a 1-0 lead. The 'Caps answered in the same inning as John Valente recorded his first RBI as a Whitecap, scoring Eric De La Rosa and evening the score at 1-1. In the fifth, a Rey Rivera single, a perfect sacrifice bunt by Chris Proctor and an untimely fielding error by TinCaps shortstop Gabriel Arias set the table for Brady Policelli, who answered with an RBI infield single and gave the Whitecaps the 2-1 advantage. Reliever Dylan Stock took over in the sixth inning and pitched his strongest outing of 2018 in a 'Caps uniform with 3.1 innings of two-hit, no run baseball, striking out three. With one out in the ninth inning and two TinCaps on base, Whitecaps righty Billy Lescher entered the game. After getting the second out of the inning via a strikeout, Lescher hit Jalen Washington to load the bases but struck out Kelvin Melean to slam the door and set up the season-ending drama on Monday afternoon at Fifth Third Ballpark.
Rodriguez (8-7) allowed the lone TinCaps run over five innings of three-hit baseball for West Michigan. Rodriguez walked only one and recorded four strikeouts. Lescher picked up his team-leading eighth save of 2018. Gabe Mosser (1-1) did not allow an earned run in five strong relief innings but suffered the defeat for Fort Wayne. With the Whitecaps win, it now sets up a "winner-take-all," scenario with the victor of the third game of the series advancing to the playoffs. West Michigan improves to 68-70 while Fort Wayne slips to 64-73.
The Whitecaps conclude the 2018 regular season against the Fort Wayne TinCaps with a Labor Day Monday matinee at 2:00 pm. Pitcher Jesus Rodriguez is scheduled to start for West Michigan against TinCaps lefty Tom Cosgrove. Broadcast coverage with Dan Hasty and Mike Coleman begins on the Whitecaps Baseball Network at 1:50 pm. Tickets are available for any Whitecaps 2018 home contest by calling the Whitecaps front office at 616-784-4131 or by visiting www.whitecapsbaseball.com.
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