In a night where offense was close to non-existent, a series of curious late-game events shifted the pendulum of momentum in favor of the Whitecaps. West Michigan took full advantage to even up the Championship series at one game apiece with a 4-1 win over Cedar Rapids.
A.J. Ladwig has given manager Andrew Graham every reason to have confidence in his righthander and was handed the ball to work Game 2. Ladwig powered through seven innings, limiting the Kernels to just one run in his outing, but run support proved hard to come by for West Michigan through the first six innings. Cedar Rapids lefty Sam Gibbons kept the Whitecaps silent through his first six frames, striking out four.
It was a shift at the bottom of the seventh that not only adjusted momentum, but made for a heated Cedar Rapids dugout. Following a walk to Kade Scivicque, Christin Stewart knocked a double to advance him. A shallow single from Joey Pankake was quick to score Scivicque, but Stewart dug in, working to notch the go-ahead run. An aggressive slide from Stewart swung him around the back of the plate in attempt to get past Cedar Rapids catcher Brian Navarreto, who had positioned himself in the path to apply the tag. Upon first call, the home plate umpire threw up the sign calling Stewart safe. Stewart's slide was just by the plate, rushing Navarreto to hurry back to tag Stewart, causing the umpire to revise his call, issuing the out. Following a brief discussion between the umpires, the call was again reversed, citing catcher's interference against Cedar Rapids, giving West Michigan a 2-1 lead.
A very heated Cedar Rapids manager Jake Mauer was ejected shortly after, due to continued jawing from the dugout. A fielding error from Cedar Rapids shortstop Nick Gordan got David Gonzalez to reach safely, scoring Pankake. A.J. Simcox took one for the team with the bases loaded, getting plunked to take his base, scoring Will Kengor to give West Michigan a 4-1 lead.
A four run seventh was all West Michigan needed and behind closer Joe Jimenez, West Michigan tied up the series before going on the road to face the Kernels in Iowa on Saturday.
Michael Gerber: Shouldering an offense that was held at bay for six innings, Gerber looked very much himself, leading the West Michigan squad with two hits on the night.
A.J. Ladwig: In a solid seven inning campaign, Ladwig was once again the picture of consistency, limiting Cedar Rapids to a single run, striking out a pair.
Ross Kivett: A strangely silent night at the plate for Ross Kivett held the outfielder to 0-4. Hard to cast blame, considering Kivett's prior 11 hits in this postseason. He gets a free pass on this one.
Midwest League Playoffs - League Championship (Game 3): West Michigan will hit the road for Cedar Rapids to tackle game three of the best-of-five series with the Kernels. Game is slated for 4:35 pm on Saturday.