Despite a bit of a toll on our nerves, it's a situation delightfully familiar for anyone following the West Michigan Whitecaps this postseason. Team A takes an early lead and one way or another the Whitecaps and their never-say-die mantra managed to power through to a 2-1 victory over the Kernels.
Manager Andrew Graham stuck with his postseason rotation, pitting big righty Jeff Thompson against Cedar Rapids in a must-win situation, with West Michigan trailing Cedar Rapids two games to one entering on Sunday afternoon. In typical fashion, Thompson charged his way through five solid innings of work, holding Cedar Rapids to one run off six hits and fanning three.
As has been the routine in the postseason, the West Michigan offense was a bit slow out of the gate, with Joey Pankake and Michael Gerber shouldering the brunt of the production. Gerber was first to notch a base hit with a single in the first, followed by a double from Pankake at the top of the second. It was Pankake and Gerber that came through again in the fourth, each tagging a single, without getting much offensive support early on.
It was the top of the fifth when a little fire was lit under the West Michigan bats and the activity got moving. David Gonzalez kicked off the top of the inning with a single and a stolen base, followed by a walk issues to Ross Kivett. Singles from A.J. Simcox and another knock for Gerber lifted West Michigan to a 2-1 lead before ending the inning.
Despite Cedar Rapids loading the bases at the bottom of the ninth, two runs was all West Michigan needed, as the Whitecaps once against squeaked and wriggled their way to a Game 4 victory and will live to see another day of baseball on Monday night.
Michael Gerber: West Michigan fans got some vintage Gerber, as the right fielder punched three hits with one RBI to lead West Michigan at the plate.
Jeff Thompson: Thompson once again proved consistent for West Michigan as he successfully held Cedar Rapids to a single run in his five innings of work for West Michigan.
Francisco Contreras & Kade Scivicque: The normally consistent producers couldn't find success in attempting to wake up their bats as they combined for 1-for-8 overall in Game 4 against Cedar Rapids.
Midwest League Playoffs - League Championship (Game 5): The Whitecaps will return for a do-or-die contest against Cedar Rapids on Monday for all the marbles. First pitch is slated for 7:35 pm.