After scoring a run in the ninth inning for a 2-1 win Saturday, the West Michigan Whitecaps struck early Sunday in a 6-4 win against the Clinton LumberKings in Midwest League ball at Fifth Third Ballpark.
James Robbins singled home Hernan Perez with one out in the bottom of the ninth to snap the 1-1 tie Saturday in front of 8,751 fans at Fifth Third Ballpark. Perez reached on a leadoff walk from reliever Ryan Kiel (0-1), took second on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Hamme, and after an intentional walk to Nick Castellanos, scored on the single by Robbins just out of the reach of first baseman Mickey Wiswall.
The game had been tied since the fifth inning, when Anthony Phillips drove a pitch from left-hander Bryan Flynn high over the wall in left to erase what had been a 1-0 Whitecaps’ lead. West Michigan had scored its run a half-inning prior as Perez walked and scored on a triple to right-center by Hamme.
Clinton left-hander Anthony Fernandez was dominant over 7 2/3 innings, limiting the Whitecaps to a run on three hits and three walks while striking out six. He stranded two runners at third base, keeping Hamme aboard after the triple in the fourth and holding Luis Castillo at third after a double and an error in the sixth.
Both teams showed a little more offense Sunday.
The Whitecaps scored five runs on seven hits over the first two innings against right-hander Taijuan Walker and held off a late Clinton comeback.
John Hicks went 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles and an RBI for Clinton, and Kevin Rivers homered for the fourth time on the trip, but it wasn’t enough for the Kings.
Castillo opened the game with a single to right-center and Hamme drew a one-out walk. Both scored as Castellanos doubled out of the reach of third baseman Jetsy Extrano.
An inning later, Steven Moya, Dixon Machado, Luis Sanz and Castillo all singled in succession off Walker, with Sanz and Castillo driving home runs. Castellanos then added an RBI single to raise the lead to 5-0.
Hicks recorded his first career extra-base hit — a double down the third-base line — in the fifth and scored as Phillips bounced a ground-rule double over the left-field fence. Rivers blasted a solo home run in the sixth to cut the deficit to 5-2.
The Whitecaps extended the lead to 6-2 in the sixth as Jason Krizan doubled and scored on another RBI single by Sanz. The single, while off right-hander Matt Bischoff, was on Walker’s line. Walker (4-5) yielded a career-high six earned runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings, walked one and struck out three.
Bischoff tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief to keep the Kings within striking distance, and they nearly tied the game in the top of the seventh. Extrano was hit by a pitch from right-hander Melvin Mercedes and scored as Hicks ripped a double to right-center field. Taking third on a throw to the plate, Hicks then scored on a groundout by Phillips.
Mercedes stayed on and allowed a single to Robbie Anston and walked Mike McGee to put the tying runs on base for Rivers, but he stranded both as he grounded out to second baseman Perez.
Extrano doubled to lead off the ninth against right-hander Nathan Newman, but Newman retired the next three hitters.
The LumberKings (14-15) wrap up the series and the six-game East Division trip against the Whitecaps (16-13) at 6 p.m. (CDT) today. Left-hander Tony Butler (1-1, 2.61 ERA) gets the start for Clinton against West Michigan right-hander Kevin Eichhorn (7-3, 3.65).