MIDLAND, MI – The West Michigan Whitecaps overcame spotty showers throughout Sunday afternoon but couldn’t overcome a rocky fifth inning as part of a 5-1 loss to the Great Lakes Loons on Sunday at Dow Diamond.
Light rain came and went throughout the proceedings on Sunday, but the Loons drew three walks that all scored later in a three-run fifth to take a lead they would keep the remainder of the contest. The loss forces the Whitecaps to settle for a split of their six-game series against the first-place Loons after having taken three of the first five games to start this series leading into the Sunday finale.
Ryan Ward, the reigning High-A Central Player of the Week, lifted a leadoff solo homer in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead. The homer was Ward’s 15th of the season. The score remained the same until Eric De La Rosa tied the contest with a solo shot of his own – his third of the year – on an opposite-field homer to tie the game at one. In the fifth consecutive walks to Zac Ching, Deacon Liput and Ward loaded the bases, and all three scored in an inning highlighted by Carson Taylor’s RBI-single to give the Loons a 4-1 lead. Leonel Valera led off the sixth with a solo home run, his 14th of the season to extend the lead to 5-1. Meanwhile, the ‘Caps offense struggled to put runners on base, pushing just one runner past second base in the contest.
Great Lakes lefty Alec Gamboa (4-4) tossed four innings of one-run baseball while striking out four to collect his fourth victory of the 2021 season, while ‘Caps righty Sandel De La Cruz (0-2) gave up the three walks and three Loons run in the fifth to suffer his second loss of the season. The Whitecaps fall to 36-41 this season, while the first-place Loons increase their record to 43-35. Johnson’s double in the fifth marked his fifth of the series.
The Whitecaps return home for a six-day, seven-game series from LMCU Ballpark against the Dayton Dragons on Tuesday at 7:05 pm. West Michigan sends pitcher Garrett Hill to the mound against the Dragons Eduardo Salazar. Broadcast coverage with Dan Hasty starts on the Whitecaps Baseball Network at 6:50 pm. Get your tickets for all 2021 home games now at www.whitecapsbaseball.com.