Stephanie Sokol for The Pit
Two nights in a row, the West Michigan Whitecaps brought dominant starting pitching, allowing them to beat the Lake County Captains.
Buck Farmer-s 12-strikeout led the Whitecaps to a 4-1 win at Classic Park Wednesday evening, as the Whitecaps (14-12) struck out a season-high 15 batters in the game.
The team has now allowed only one run over the last 21 innings of the series against Lake County (7-19). Winning four out of their last five games, the Whitecaps face the Captains again Thursday.
Farmer (3-2) started with a dozen strikeouts, beating his previous record of 11 strikeouts on April 28 at Cedar Rapids, and finishing three punch-outs shy of Alan Webb’s 15 strikeout franchise record in a 1998 start at Beloit.
Throwing 64 of his 95 pitches for strikes, Farmer made it past several batters in four of his seven innings and struck out the side in both the third and fourth frames. He allowed just one run on five hits and one walk in seven dominant innings, only faltering during a solo home run off Eric Haase’s bat in the second.
The Whitecaps also got scoring assistance in the top of the second, when Ben Verlander lifted a routine fly ball to shallow right field, but it dropped between three defenders for a gift-single.
Following, Harold Castro brought a double to put runners on second and third, and later that inning Bennett Pickar split the gap in right-center to score both runners for a 2-0 advantage. Haase cut the lead 2-1 on the homer in the bottom of the second, but the ‘Caps still kept going.
In the top of the fifth, West Michigan worked for three consecutive two-out singles, including an opposite-field hit by Dominic Ficociello that brought Javier Betancourt home. In the seventh, Wynton Bernard tripled and scored on a two-out single by Raph Rhymes to push the lead to 4-1.
Things got interesting in the bottom of the ninth, when the Captains loaded the bases against Montreal Robertson with one out.
Scott Sitz came to the rescue, inducing a game-ending double play ball from Claudio Bautista to clinch his first save of the season.
Luis Lugo (0-4) felt the loss despite a solid starting performance for Lake County, when the 20-year-old lefty struck out six and walked one over 4.2 innings, but was charged with three runs on five hits.