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West Michigan Whitecaps win 2 of 3, move on in Midwest League playoffs

The Whitecaps bested the South Bend Cubs in a best-of-three series, and move on to face the Great Lakes Loons.

Jose Azocar, West Michigan Whitecaps Emily Waldon

Early on in Game 3 of the Midwest League Quarterfinals, it looked like the South Bend Cubs were poised to win the series as scripted. The West Michigan Whitecaps won Game 1 in extra innings at home on Wednesday, but the Cubs evened the series as games shifted to South Bend on Thursday. Then, on Friday evening, they took an early 3-0 lead in the final game of the series.

The Whitecaps stormed back, scoring three runs over the next two innings to tie the score. Then Mother Nature stormed herself, postponing play until Saturday afternoon. Play resumed in the eighth inning, but it took until the top of the 10th for Jose Azocar to drive in Will Allen for the winning run. The Whitecaps will move on to face the Great Lakes Loons in the Midwest League Eastern Division Championship. Game 1 will take place on the road on Sunday, with the final two games of the series coming at Fifth Third Ballpark on Monday and Tuesday (if necessary).

Game 1: West Michigan Whitecaps 3, South Bend Cubs 2 (F/11) (box)

South Bend took the lead with runs in the second and fifth innings, but were immediately answered by the Whitecaps offense in the bottom of each frame. The score stayed deadlocked at two until the 11th inning, when Jose Zambrano hit a two-out, walk-off RBI single for the win. David Gonzalez singled to open up the inning and advanced to third with no outs, but Cam Gibson and Joey Havrilak were unable to drive him in before Zambrano's hit. Starter Kyle Dowdy was solid, allowing two runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. The bullpen did the rest of the work, throwing 5 1/3 scoreless innings with just two hits and a walk allowed.

Maddox: 3-5, RBI, SO
Zambrano: 2-5, R, RBI, BB, 2 SO
Azocar: 2-5, R, 3 SO, SB
Dowdy: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO

Game 2: South Bend Cubs 6, West Michigan Whitecaps 2 (box)

The Whitecaps took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second, but South Bend immediately answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the frame. The Cubs broke the game open with a run in the sixth and three runs in the seventh, cruising to an easy win. Whitecaps starter Beau Burrows worked just 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits with six strikeouts. Reliever Toller Boardman took the loss, allowing the other four runs in just 1 1/3 innings. The Whitecaps offense managed just six hits against South Bend pitching, with two coming from second baseman Will Maddox.

Maddox: 2-4
Pirtle: 1-4, 2B, R, SO
Gibson: 1-3, RBI
Burrows: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO
Boardman (L): 1.1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER

Game 3: West Michigan Whitecaps 4, South Bend Cubs 3 (F/10) (box)

The Whitecaps were out-hit 9-8, but were still able to erase an early 3-0 deficit for a series-clinching win over South Bend. Starter Spenser Watkins worked just four innings, allowing three runs on five hits with three strikeouts. Reliever Trent Szkutnik struck out four over the next 2 2/3 innings, and Drew Smith picked up the win with two scoreless innings of his own. Joey Havrilak doubled twice and drove in a run, and Jose Azocar picked up the series-clinching RBI with one of his two singles in the 10th. Arvicent Perez also doubled for the Whitecaps.

Perez: 2-3, 2B, R, BB
Azocar: 2-4, RBI, SO
Havrilak: 2-4, 2 2B, RBI, SO
Watkins: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, BB, 3 SO