The West Michigan Whitecaps used a big first inning and a dominant performance by the bullpen to defeat the host Fort Wayne TinCaps 7-4 at Parkview Field in Tuesday night. LSJ Logo incert

The Whitecaps grabbed an early 4–0 lead in the first inning when Jose Azocarwhitecaps logo not for feature art laced an RBI single to right field. Leo Laffita followed by plating two more with a base hit, and Brett Pirtle scored on a balk by TinCaps starter Austin Smith.

Azocar sent home another run in the third with a single, and Derek Hill followed suit with one of his own in the fourth.

A pair of Fort Wayne home runs helped the TinCaps pull within 6-4 after seven innings. In the eighth, West Michigan’s Cam Gibson scored on a wild pitch to add an insurance run.

Whitecaps starting pitcher Trent Szkutnik (3-0) picked up his third win of the season after tossing six innings and giving up four runs. Reliever Drew Smith was sensational out of the bullpen, striking out all five batters he faced in the late innings before newly anointed Midwest League All-Star Gerson Moreno pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up his 11th save of the season.

The Whitecaps improve to 37-25, and move mere percentage points ahead of Lake County for the second Eastern Division playoff spot while remaining a game back of first-place South Bend.