MIDLAND, Mich. – On the first-ever Pride Night held at Dow Diamond, fans were treated to an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel as the West Michigan Whitecaps eked out a 2-1 victory over the Great Lakes Loons on Wednesday in front of 4,431 fans. Anthony Castro and Devin Smeltzer each turned in quality starts, but it was the Tigers prospect from Venezuela who silenced the Loons bats all night.
It was the second consecutive start for Castro (W, 4-1) in which he struck out 12 batters following his shutdown performance against the Fort Wayne TinCaps on May 25. The 22-year-old right-hander carved up the Loons, especially the middle of the Loons lineup as Brendon Davis and Cody Thomas combined to go 0-for-8 with six strikeouts.
On the flip side, and not to be forgotten despite the loss, Smeltzer (L, 2-3) was excellent in his start managing his pitch count to his advantage. The lefty used just 90 pitches, 65 of which were strikes, to make it through eight innings allowing two runs on five hits with six strikeouts.
After the Loons (26-26) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the 1st inning thanks to a triple by Gavin Lux and a sacrifice fly by Errol Robinson, it was single runs in the 6th and 8th by West Michigan (35-17) that was the difference.
Austin Athmann doubled to lead off the 6th and later scored when a ball snuck under the glove of Eric Meza down the first-base line. Two frames later it was Chad Sedio who scored on a sacrifice fly from Daniel Pinero. It didn’t take much, but that was all the scoring West Michigan would need.
Jason Foley (SV, 4) relieved Castro after seven strong innings for the Whitecaps and allowed just two Loons baserunners down the stretch via a walk and double.
The rubber match awaits for the Loons and Whitecaps on Thursday night as it will be Greek Heritage Night at Dow Diamond. Lefty Leo Crawford (2-3, 4.25 ERA) will get the start for the hosts while West Michigan is set to counter with one of the Midwest League’s best Austin Sodders (5-0, 0.83).
The 2016 Midwest League Champions and hosts of the 2017 MWL All-Star Game presented by GoGreat.com have been a Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers since the team’s inception in 2007. For tickets and more information about the Great Lakes Loons, call 989-837-BALL or visit Loons.com.
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