The West Michigan Whitecaps used a career-best performance from pitcher Trent Szkutnik and a three-run homer by David Gonzalez to win their ninth straight game in a 6-3 defeat of the Great Lakes Loons Thursday night at Midland’s Dow Diamond.LSJ Logo incert

The Whitecaps currently have the longest winning streak in all of minor league baseball. This is the longest stretch the ‘Caps have gone without a loss since June 3-12 of 2011. whitecaps logo not for feature art

After starting the season slowly, West Michigan is now in first place in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division with a 31-19 record, one game ahead of the second-place South Bend Cubs.

South Bend will host the Whitecaps for a key four-game series, beginning on Friday at 7:35 p.m.

The Whitecaps jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Thursday with an RBI double by Will Maddox and an RBI single by Jose Azocar. Their advantage grew to 5-0 in the second on a three-run homer by Gonzalez.

Meanwhile, Szkutnik held the Loons to just two runs in seven innings while setting a personal record with nine strikeouts in the contest, breaking his previous record of six. He improved his record to 2-0.

Late in the contest, Azocar’s RBI-single – his third hit of the night – gave the ‘Caps an insurance run and a 6-3 edge. The Loons brought the potential tying run to the plate in the ninth, but reliever Adenson Verastegui put out the fire and nailed down the three-game series sweep of the Loons.