The West Michigan Whitecaps clinched a playoff spot for the second consecutive season on Wednesday, beating the Fort Wayne TinCaps 1-0 at Fifth Third Ballpark. While the Whitecaps were in the driver's seat to reach the postseason, they received a bit of help from the Bowling Green Hot Rods, who beat third-place Lake County to officially clinch the Whitecaps' playoff fate.
The 'Caps have gotten things done with a balanced approach this season, ranking in the middle of the pack both offensively and defensively in the Midwest League. They were just 33-36 in the first half, but were boosted by several midseason additions -- including 2015 draft picks Christin Stewart and Kade Scivicque -- to go 39-26 in the second half.
The Whitecaps are currently sitting on a wild card berth, but still have an outside shot at winning their division. They trail first-place Fort Wayne by three games with five to play, but have two home games remaining against the TinCaps this week. If West Michigan sweeps, things could get very interesting heading into the final series of the season.
Toledo Mud Hens 4, Louisville Bats 1 (box)
Warwick Saupold allowed a run in five innings while striking out eight to earn his first career win at the Triple-A level. Saupold was backed by a balanced offense that tallied nine hits, including a pair of doubles apiece from Mike Hessman and Steven Moya. The Toledo bullpen combined to strike out six Bats hitters in four scoreless innings.
Akron Rubber Ducks 6, Erie SeaWolves 1 (box)
Starter Austin Kubitza was roughed up, allowing six runs in his first three innings of work. Kubitza eventually made it through six frames, but suffered his 13th loss of the season. The SeaWolves offense was little help, with just four hits on the evening. Wynton Bernard reached base twice and stole his 42nd base of the season.
West Michigan Whitecaps 1, Fort Wayne TinCaps 0 (box)
The Whitecaps offense racked up eight hits in 29 at-bats, but it took a David Gonzalez RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning to break a scoreless tie. That run would be all the Whitecaps needed thanks to a brilliant performance by A.J. Ladwig, who worked seven shutout innings. Young flamethrower Gerson Moreno worked two scoreless innings for the save.
Things looked good for three innings, as the Tigers took a 1-0 lead into the fourth. Then, the wheels came off. The Cyclone scored seven runs over the next three innings, four of which came against Tigers starter Josh Heddinger. Connecticut couldn't match the offensive onslaught, scoring just one run on seven hits.
Connecticut Tigers 2, Brooklyn Cyclones 1 (box)
Will Allen notched a walk-off hit for the Tigers, unlocking a game that had been tied at one since the second inning. Allen was one of three Tigers to reach base twice, though Connecticut only notched one extra base hit. Starter Toller Boardman had a solid outing, allowing one run in six innings, but reliever Logan Longwith earned the win by striking out the side in the seventh.
Mud Hens: The Hens will go for a four-game series sweep over the Bats tonight with Thad Weber (6-10, 4.15 ERA) on the mound.
SeaWolves: Erie goes for their third win in four games over Akron tonight at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Flying Tigers: After an off day on Wednesday, Lakeland is back in action tonight against Tampa.
Whitecaps: Jeff Thompson (6-11, 3.99 ERA) takes the mound tonight as the Whitecaps continue their series with first-place Fort Wayne.
Tigers: Ryan Castellanos (1-1, 3.31 ERA) takes the mound as Brooklyn and Connecticut continue their series.