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Whitecaps 8, Lugnuts 3: Joey Pankake carries West Michigan to even up Division Finals

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You have to hand it to those (in)famous pants -- Joey Pankake used an absolutely electric night at the plate to even up the Division Finals with Lansing at a game apiece.

Emily Waldon / Bless You Boys

Through a solid six inning outing, West Michigan Whitecaps righthander Artie Lewicki held the Lansing Lugnuts to a single unearned run off six hits, fanning five with only one walk for the evening. His strong effort, combined with a balance Whitecaps offensive attack, evened up the Midwest League Eastern Division Finals series at one game apiece.

The sense of urgency became a little greater on Sunday evening, as the Whitecaps found themselves facing elimination following a loss to the Lugnuts in the Division Finals opener at Fifth Third Ballpark on Saturday. West Michigan handed the ball to Lewicki to work the hill against a solid Lansing lineup. Lewicki first surfaced with West Michigan in limited activity in 2014, followed by 15 games for the Whitecaps this season following a long bout of illness, finishing 3-4 with a 3.52 ERA in the regular season.

Michael Gerber got things started for the Whitecaps in the first leading with a triple and coming in to score off an RBI single from Kade Scivicque. Ross Kivett continued his steady attack at the plate with a double in the third, scoring off a sacrifice fly from Michael Gerber to give West Michigan the lead. David Gonzalez followed suit with a sacrifice fly of his own to score Joey Pankake in the fourth to extend the West Michigan lead.

Some may credit it to that famous pair of pants, but call it what you will, Joey Pankake dialed in at the plate and West Michigan had no complaints. The Whitecaps designated hitter was dominant at the plate against Lansing, posting two RBI and four hits, including a double and punching a big two-run blast in the seventh inning to give West Michigan a 6-1 lead over Lansing. Adding in to the activity at the plate, a two run single from Christin Stewart in the eighth catapulted West Michigan to an 8-1 lead.

Despite a two-run scare from Lansing at the bottom of nine, the West Michigan bullpen was able to close the door for the Whitecaps and even up the Division Finals at a game apiece.

HITS: Following an 0-3 outing on Saturday in West Michigan, Joey Pankake electrified the Lansing defense at the plate, posting his first four-hit outing since May 19 against Bowling Green, where he went 4-5 with a pair of doubles and a pair of RBI.

MISSES: It was an unusually quiet night at the plate for 14th-round selection A.J. Simcox as he was held silent at the plate against the Lansing pitching staff. He finished the evening at 0-4.

★★★

Upcoming Action

Midwest League Playoffs - Division Finals (Game 3): West Michigan will return to Cooley Law School Stadium in Lansing on Monday for the winner-take-all final outing of the Eastern Division Finals. Righty Ross Seaton is slated to start the night for West Michigan with a scheduled game time of 7:05 pm.