Walk-off wins help Whitecaps take series against South Bend, maintain first place in East Division

Austin Murr

West Michigan Whitecaps outfielder Austin Murr (12) avoids a tag from South Bend Cubs second baseman Josh Rivera (left) on Aug. 18, 2023 (Photo Credit: West Michigan Whitecaps)

COMSTOCK PARK, MI -- With only a few weeks left in the 2023 regular season, the West Michigan Whitecaps are doing everything they can to stay atop the Midwest League East, taking care of business, in dramatic fashion, this week against the South Bend Cubs, High-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.

After pulling out a 3-1 win in the series opener on Tuesday, the Whitecaps seemed to be on their way to another win on Wednesday night. Austin Murr scored on a Carlos Mendoza hit in the third inning, and carried the lead until South Bend tied the game thanks to a Felix Stevens home run in the eighth. West Michigan had a couple of chances to regain the lead in the final two frames of regulation, but were forced to go to extra innings.

The Cubs took advantage of the ghost runner in the 10th, scoring twice to lead 3-1 heading into the bottom half of the frame. Yet, the ‘Caps rallied, as Gage Workman and Eliezer Alfonzo drove in runs to the game, before Dom Johnson worked a bases-loaded walk, leading to the winning run, giving West Michigan a 4-3 victory.

After the two teams traded wins on Thursday and Friday, the roles were reversed Saturday night. After the Whitecaps scored first in the opening inning, homers from Christian Franklin and Moises Ballesteros in the second and fourth innings put the Cubs in front. It would stay that way until the bottom of the ninth, when, with two outs, Luke Gold leveled the score with an RBI single, sending the game into extras once again.

Deja vu, South Bend took the lead in the top of the 10th, forcing the ‘Caps to come back. Izaac Pacheco hit a sacrifice fly that scored Alfonzo, tying the game. Then, after a Josh Crouch walk, Murr hit a single to right field that scored Brady Allen, helping West Michigan to another 4-3 win, just their third walk-off win of the season.

West Michigan capped the week off with a dominating effort, defensively and at the plate on Sunday, with a three-run fourth inning catapulting the ‘Caps to a 5-0 win.

The ‘Caps almost swept the series. During Beer City Bung Hammers night on Friday, the home side nearly erased a five-run deficit, ultimately losing by a final score of 6-5.

The win on Saturday secured the series win for the Whitecaps, in what was truly a close series. Five contests were decided by two-or-less runs, while four ended up as one-run games.

West Michigan’s record in 2023 is now 60-52, with a Second Half mark of 28-19. They currently lead the Midwest League East, 1.5 games in front of the Fort Wayne TinCaps.

Austin Murr’s bat was a huge part of the convincing series win. The outfielder played in the final five games of the series, going 8-for-18, with four RBIs and four runs scored. The 2021 sixth-round pick also hit a pair of dingers in the set, going long in the loss on Friday, before hitting an insurance homer on Sunday.

It a was much-needed series for Murr, who has been up and down throughout 2023. After a rough month of July, he is hitting .341 in August with seven RBIs and seven runs scored. Overall, the Minnesota native is batting .239 with four homers, having driven in 29 runs.


The Whitecaps are set to begin a two-week road trip, starting off with a six-game series against the Peoria Chiefs, Advanced-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Peoria is also battling for the top spot in their division, coming into the week second in the West, four games back of the Cedar Rapids Kernels. They were at one point one of the hottest teams in the Midwest League, but stumbled last week, losing four of six to the Lake County Captains.

The ‘Caps and Chiefs met in Peoria last season as well, with West Michigan winning four of six last June.

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