By Andrew Johnson
The game could have been shorter, had a much happier ending for the Whitecaps, if they had taken advantage of a no out, bases loaded opportunity in the tenth inning.
With every base occupied and a victory one run away, West Michigan’s Franklin Navarro hit a fly ball to left field that was caught by Jose Carlos Urena of the TinCaps.
After Urena caught the ball for the first out, Jose Azocar, who was on third base, bluffed toward home before returning to the bag.
“I was telling him not to go,” said Whitecaps Manager Andrew Graham, who also coaches third base. “With no one out you don’t want to be thrown out at the plate. You still have a chance for a sacrifice fly with the next batter coming up.”
After the Navarro fly out, new Whitecap Anthony Pereira fouled off eight pitches before striking out on the 14th pitch. Rashad Brown then flew out on the first pitch to send the game to the 11th inning tied 3-3.
The game remained tied until the top of the 13th inning when Fort Wayne’s Brad Zunica hit a no-doubt home run to right field to give the TinCaps their final lead.
West Michigan went down in order to finish the game, Will Maddox was thrown out at second base attempting to stretch a single into a double to end the game.
Overall Graham felt that his team failed to take advantage of situations on Monday. The Whitecaps piled up 16 hits while only managing three runs.
“It was a pitchers’ dual for both teams,” he said. “Unfortunately we couldn’t come up with a big hit when we needed to. We didn’t execute in the later innings and we’ll learn from it. I’m happy they showed some heart but we need to execute and win these games.”
Detroit Tigers 2015 first round draft pick Beau Burrows was scheduled to start for the Whitecaps on Monday, but was skipped to help save his arm for later in the season. Several relievers combined to provide the pitching for West Michigan instead.
“It was one of those things with a day off tomorrow, we had a chance to push (Burrows) back and use the bullpen.,” Graham explained. “Now that we’ve made the playoffs we’ll need him, so you might see us skip some other guys down the road.”
Toller Boardman started the game for West Michigan, lasting three innings while giving up one run on four hits. Boardman turned the game over to Logan Longwith with a 1-0 deficit in the fourth inning.
West Michigan tied the game in the fifth inning with an RBI single from Rashad Brown that scored Jose Zambrano.
Fort Wayne responded in the top of the sixth when Austin Allen hit a homer to right center field for the second straight day to give his team a 2-1 lead. Urena homered an inning lead to extend the TinCaps’ edge to 3-1.
Back-to-back two-out RBI singles by Will Allen and Azocar tied the game at 3-3 in the seventh. The game remained deadlocked until the 13th inning when Fort Wayne scored the decisive run.
Brown and Zambrano led the Whitecaps with three hits apiece.
West Michigan will now play six games on the road before returning to Fifth Third Ballpark on July 20.