BY MICHAEL HAMMOND | Minor League Knocks
July 13, 2017 | West Michigan Whitecaps 3, Cedar Rapids Kernels 2 F/10 | Midwest League (A)
COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. – Danny Pinero knocked in Austin Athmann in the 10th inning to give the West Michigan Whitecaps a 3-2 walk-off victory over the Cedar Rapids Kernels on Thursday at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, Michigan.
Athmann reached with one out in the 10th after Kernels shortstop Gorge Munoz bobbled a grounder and couldn’t make the throw. Pinero doubled in the next at-bat and Athmann missed the tag at the plate to score.
At first look, it seemed that Cedar Rapids catcher Ben Rortvedt made the tag, but the umpire called Athmann safe. Tommy Watkins, the Kernels’ manager, took exception to the call and argued with home plate umpire, Louie Krupa, as the Whitecaps celebrated around second base.
Sidearm pitcher John Schrieber (4-1) picked up the victory after throwing scoreless ninth and 10th innings giving up one hit and striking out four.
West Michigan starter Alfred Gutierrez carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Munoz hit a leadoff homer to left-center for the Kernels’ first run of the game. Aaron Whitefield scored later in the sixth on a Lewin Diaz sac-fly after Whitefield walked and moved to third on an error. Gutierrez went seven innings and gave up two runs, one earned on two hits, two walks, and four strikeouts.
The Whitecaps took the first lead of the game in the fifth when Cole Bauml scored on a bases loaded walk of Danny Woodrow that marked the end of the night for Cedar Rapids starter Evan Sanders.
After falling behind 2-1 the Whitecaps tied the game in the eighth when Bauml scored Athmann on a two-out single. Cedar Rapids went three-up, three-down and the Whitecaps managed just a single in the ninth to set up extra innings and Pinero’s walk-off.
West Michigan holds the minor league’s best record at 60-27 and lead the Midwest League Eastern Division with a 15-5 second half record. The Whitecaps have already secured their spot in the postseason after winning their division in the first half.
The series marked the return of Detroit Tigers No. 10 prospect Derek Hill after being marred by injury for much of the season. Hill went 0-for-3 with a pair of walks.
Cedar Rapids sits at fifth in their division in the second half, but like the Whitecaps have already secured a playoff berth. The Kernels won the first half wildcard in the Western Division.
Cedar Rapids Kernels (49-42) 000 002 000 0 – 2 3 1
West Michigan Whitecaps (60-27) 000 010 010 1 – 3 12 1
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN)
#10 Travis Blankenhorn 0/4, 2 K
#23 Ben Rortvedt 1/4
#26 Lewin Diaz 0/3, RBI, SF, 2 K
West Michigan Whitecaps (DET)
#10 Derek Hill 0/3, 2 BB, K
THE BALL PARK
Fifth Third Ballpark is a beautiful stadium that features four different seating decks. The location however, is a problem. The parking lot and main ticket office are located opposite of the street to the ballpark. With the only road going to the parking lot being one-way traffic before and after games, it is a hassle to get in and out of the ballpark.
It was Sandlot Night at Fifth Third Ballpark, as the Whitecaps themed all of their in game promotions on the classic baseball cinema. Also, each player’s picture on the video board was edited to add to the theme. Zac Shepard’s picture featured the same glasses worn by Squints in The Sandlot. The weekly promotion was West Michigan’s thirsty Thursday with $2 20 oz. beers available.
Beloit Snappers at Lansing Lugnuts on July 14.
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