MIDLAND, MI – The West Michigan Whitecaps enjoyed a huge first inning and never looked back as part of a 7-5 victory over the Great Lakes Loons Tuesday night at Dow Diamond.
West Michigan sent ten batters to the plate and tallied a season-high eight hits in the opening frame on its way to eight straight wins for the first time since June of 2017.
The first-inning explosion happened in the blink of an eye, as the first five Whitecaps hitters recorded base hits to help West Michigan take a 3-0 lead. Spencer Torkelson, the first overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, opened the scoring with an RBI-double before Daniel Cabrera added a run-scoring triple followed by a Dillon Dingler double to give West Michigan its first three runs. Later in the frame, Jose King chipped in an RBI-single and stole home on the back end of a double-steal to help the ‘Caps to its biggest first inning of any game this season. The Loons answered back in the bottom of the frame when Loons outfielder and Los Angeles Dodgers top-10 prospect Andy Pages blasted a three-run homer to slice the West Michigan lead to 6-3. Both teams traded single tallies the next two innings as King delivered another run-scoring single to bring the ‘Caps lead to 7-4. After a Loons run in the fifth, Great Lakes’ biggest threat came with runners at the corners and two outs in the eighth. West Michigan manager Brayan Peña brought on closer Ruben Garcia, who got the ‘Caps out of the jam and retired all four batters he faced to help the Whitecaps win eight straight games for the first time since 2017.
Zac Shepherd (3-0) tied former ‘Caps reliever Yaya Chentouf with his third win of the season, lasting 3.1 frames and giving up just one run. Loons starter Jose Martinez (1-1) failed to finish the first inning and gave up six runs in his first loss of the season. Garcia kept his league lead in saves by adding his fifth of the 2021 season. The Whitecaps remain in first-place and improve to 15-9 while the Loons fall to 12-13. Dingler led the 13-hit attack by reaching base four times, highlighted by a pair of doubles in the victory.
The Whitecaps continue this six-game series against the Great Lakes Loons from Dow Diamond Wednesday at 7:05 pm. West Michigan sends pitcher Jesus Rodriguez the mound against Clayton Beeter for the Loons. Broadcast coverage with Dan Hasty begins on the Whitecaps Baseball Network at 6:50 pm. Get your tickets for all 2021 home games now at www.whitecapsbaseball.com.