Late collapses lead to West Michigan dropping series to Peoria, still hang on to first place

Austin Murr

West Michigan Whitecaps outfielder Austin Murr gets a lead off first base in a game against the South Bend Cubs on Aug. 19, 2023 (Photo Credit: West Michigan Whitecaps)

PEORIA, IL -- After a series of dramatic wins in their last homestand, the West Michigan Whitecaps found themselves on the wrong end a few times in a series against the Peoria Chiefs, High-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

After winning the series opener, the Whitecaps scored first on Wednesday, but a three-run third inning gave the Chiefs the lead. They held a 4-3 lead going into the eighth, but a two-run homer from Brady Allen, his second of the series, put the Whitecaps out in front. However, Ramon Hernandez hit a game-tying dinger in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game into extra innings.

The ‘Caps put themselves in a good spot, scoring twice in the top of the 10th off an Austin Murr base knock. Yet, the bullpen failed again, as Dario Gardea gave up a three-run, walk-off homer to pinch-hitter Alex Iadisernia, handing Peoria an 8-7 win.

It was a slightly similar story on Thursday night, with the ‘Caps building up a three-run lead by the fourth inning. However, the Chiefs cut into the lead as Jimmy Crooks’ two-run homer in the sixth made it a one-run game. Just like the night before, the home team was able to tie the game in the ninth, as a wild pitch from Erick Pinales made it 3-3, with R.J. Yeager hitting a walk-off single to give Peoria the 4-3 win.

The wasted start from Jackson Jobe made Thursday’s loss an even tougher pill to swallow. The Detroit Tigers’ No. 1 pitching prospect was excellent in six innings, striking out six while giving up just one earned run.

The Whitecaps also got off to a great start in the game on Saturday. Yet, despite going up 2-0 by the third frame, the ‘Caps managed just one hit in the final six innings. Like Wednesday and Thursday, the bullpen squandered the lead in the final frames, as the Chiefs managed to level the score in the seventh, before putting up a three-spot in the eighth to pull out a 5-2 win.

Then, to cap it all off on Sunday, the Whitecaps had a 3-2 lead all the way until the eighth, when the Chiefs once again tied the game. After West Michigan squandered a chance to go ahead in the ninth, they would head to extra innings for the second time in the series.

The ‘Caps regained the lead in the top of the 10th, as Gage Workman scored on a balk. However, the Chiefs came back to tie the game. Then, an error by Luke Gold, and an infield hit that should have been an out, loaded up the bases for Peoria. Jimmy Crooks was able to work a walk, scoring the winning run, and clinching the series for the Chiefs with a 5-4 win.

Even though their offense went quiet at points during the week, West Michigan’s bats showed up in a couple of games. In the series opener on Tuesday, each starter had a hit in a 14-3 win, which saw Gold hit a pair of home runs in the sixth inning, including his first grand slam as a ‘Cap.

On Friday, as the bats came alive again, West Michigan worked their way to a 5-0 lead by the seventh inning, thanks to Allen’s third longball of the series.

First baseman Andrew Jenkins had one of his best performances since getting called up to West Michigan, going 4-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored, helping the team to a 9-1 win.

Despite the series loss, the Whitecaps (62-56) remain first in the Midwest League East with a 30-23 Second Half record, 1.5 games ahead of the Lake County Captains and Fort Wayne TinCaps.


The Whitecaps will finish their road trip with one final six-game series against their longtime rivals, the Lansing Lugnuts, Advanced-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

It has been a rough second part of the season for the Lugnuts. With a 56-63 overall record and 25-29 in the Second Half, Lansing is sitting last in the East, despite taking four of six from the Dayton Dragons last week.

West Michigan comes into the week, looking to clinch the season series against the ‘Nuts, having won nine of the first 15 meetings.

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