By Mitchell Boatman
COMSTOCK PARK – West Michigan pitcher Kyle Dowdy has been outstanding at home since moving to the starting rotation.
Saturday was no different, as Dowdy, now 6-1 on the season, threw six scoreless innings to lead the Whitecaps to a 2-0 victory over the Fort Wayne TinCaps.
West Michigan scored both runs in the third.
The inning started with three straight hits; a double by Cam Gibson, a single from Derek Hill and an RBI hit from Rashad Brown to score Gibson.
Hill scored two batters later on a grounder from Will Allen that was mishandled by TinCaps second baseman Peter Van Gansen.
The win, which came in front of a sellout crowd of 9,528 fans on Star Wars night, ended the Whitecaps’ two-game losing skid.
“It was awesome playing in front of a packed house,” Dowdy said. “I know I felt (the crowd) behind me, especially with runners in scoring position.”
Pitching with runners on base was a common occurrence for Dowdy, who allowed seven hits, walked three and hit two batters.
Despite having so much traffic on the base paths, manager Andrew Graham stuck with his starter into the seventh inning.
“He did a good job for us,” Graham said. “He pitched in traffic a lot, but he got the big out when he needed it.”
Dowdy credited the Whitecaps’ fielders for helping him get out of trouble.
The Whitecaps turned in three double plays, in addition to several other stellar plays on the infield, to help preserve the shutout.
“I had some really good defense behind me,” Dowdy said. “I’ve got to give it up to them, they really played their butts off today.”
Dowdy turned the game over to the bullpen in the seventh after allowing a single and a walk to start the inning.
Reliever Jordan Smith got a ground ball for the first out, then added a strikeout, before a Fort Wayne runner was caught stealing to retire the side.
Smith threw a perfect eighth inning before Yordy Cabrera shut the door in a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his first save.
With the win, the Whitecaps are now 7-9 in the season’s second half, good for fourth place in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division. The Whitecaps continue their series against the TinCaps Sunday at 1 p.m.