Thanks to a job well done by the West Michigan Whitecaps grounds crew to clean up the mess carried through by Mother Nature from the previous night, it was business as usual to welcome the first game of the season back to Fifth Third Ballpark against the South Bend Cubs (1-2). West Michigan lefty Matt Hall held the Cubs to one run over four innings on a chilly Saturday afternoon.
Offense proved hard to come by for the Whitecaps, finishing 7-for-35 (.200) at the plate with Will Allen and Rashad Brown combining for four of the seven combined hits on the day for West Michigan. Toller Boardman came in to relieve Matt Hall and the struggles for West Michigan began shortly after. The Cubs pounded out three runs at the top of the sixth, thanks to a triple from Daniel Spingola.
RBI singles from Will Allen and Jose Azocar in the bottom of the ninth weren't enough to overtake South Bend, causing West Michigan to fall short in a 5-3 loss.
Allen: 2-4, 2B, RBI, SO
Brown: 2-4, SO
Lester: 0-4, 3 SO
Hall: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO
Boardman (L): 1.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO
Coming Up Next: The Cubs return to Fifth Third Ballpark on Sunday afternoon to wrap up their series with West Michigan. The Whitecaps send their 2015 no. 1 draft pick Beau Burrows to the hill to face South Bend at 1pm.
Tigers fans at Henley Field got to witness the return of a familiar face in the form of a rehabbing Blaine Hardy, who received the nod to start the night for the Flying Tigers (0-3) against the visiting Tampa Yankees (3-0). Hardy worked a scoreless outing, striking out a pair before being replaced by Jairo Labourt. Labourt stood dominant through four innings for the Flying Tigers, fanning eight while allowing only one run to the Yankees.
At the plate for the Flying Tigers, Michael Gerber added his second home run of the season, while Christin Stewart knocked his first of the year with a two-run shot in the bottom of the third.
(video credit: James Chipman / @J_chipman)
The Yankees worked another Lakeland pitching change in their favor, posting 10 runs in the final three innings of the night and the Flying Tigers could not keep pace, surrendering a 6-0 lead and dropping the contest 11-6.
Gerber: 3-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, B, SO
Stewart: 1-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, SO
Shepherd: 0-5, 4 SO
Hardy: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO
Verastegui (L): 1.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO
Coming Up Next: The Flying Tigers will look to avoid a sweep in the final of a four-game home stand against Tampa on Sunday afternoon at 1pm. Big righty A.J. Ladwig will get the start for Lakeland against Tampa righthander Gabriel Encinas.
Following their Opening Day victory, baseball has been hard to come by for the Toledo Mud Hens, who were forced to accept a second consecutive weather-related postponement on Saturday. The postponement of Friday's contest will be part of a double feature at Fifth Third Field on Sunday against the Louisville Bats. The postponement of Saturday's game has been rescheduled for May 9. Toledo's Michael Fulmer is slated for the start in game one on Sunday afternoon.
With a postponement of their own on Saturday, the Erie SeaWolves will send Tommy Collier to the hill on Sunday for a 1pm start. The postponed contest has been rescheduled for June 4.