Whitecaps take four of six from Great Lakes, take possession of first place

Gage Workman

West Michigan Whitecaps infielder Gage Workman takes to the field prior to a game against the Lake County Captains on August 1, 2023 (Photo Credit: West Michigan Whitecaps)


MIDLAND, MI -- With the hopes of making the playoffs still up in the air, the West Michigan Whitecap met an in-state rival for an important series, taking on the Great Lakes Loons, High-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Whitecaps came into the series just a half-game out of first place in the Midwest League East, and used the play of a returning face to keep up with the Dayton Dragons.

The first game of the series saw pitcher Dylan Smith return to West Michigan, returning from Double-A Erie in a rehab assignment. He ended up throwing 2.2 scoreless innings, giving up just one hit, while striking out another.

The game was blown open in the top of the second, as Josh Crouch hit a three-run home run, his second of the season and first since May 23.

The Whitecaps earned some insurance runs late, while Dario Gardea came up in the ninth, striking out the side, earning his seventh save of the season to secure a 6-4 win. Erick Pinales (4-0) was credited with the win, striking out two in 1.1 innings of relief.

The ‘Caps had an eight-game winning streak that dated back to their series against the Fort Wayne TinCaps. However, the stretch was snapped on Wednesday, when the ‘Caps were held to just two hits in a 5-1 loss. In the game, starter Wilkel Hernandez (3-8) was handed his third loss in four starts, giving up three runs in five innings.

On Thursday, the offense came back to life for the ‘Caps, led by a three-hit night from Gage Workman, and an excellent start for No. 6 Tigers’ pitching prospect Troy Melton, West Michigan pulled away with a 6-2 win.

Melton (3-1) ended up striking out four, allowing two runs in six innings of work. Also in the win, the team’s new infielder, Hao-Yu Lee, hit his first home run as a Whitecap, and sixth overall this season, a three-run shot in the third inning.

Rain on Friday forced the teams to play in two seven-inning games on Saturday, and the ‘Caps did not need a full nine innings to show off their offensive prowess again. In a 12-4 win, four players had two hits, while Brady Allen and Luke Gold each hit dingers, their 13th and second of the season in West Michigan, respectively.

In the victory, ace Jackson Jobe (2-0) showed why he was the No. 3 prospect in the system. Even though he gave up three runs, the righty earned eight strikeouts.

Unfortunately, the good times did not keep rolling, as West Michigan registered just five hits in the 3-2 loss. leaving the tying run stranded in the seventh. Garrett Burhenn (4-6) was handed the loss after allowing three earned runs in 3.2 innings.

The series’ final game saw the Caps rely on some stout defense and a couple of timely hits. A two-run third inning, led by a Workman RBI double, gave West Michigan the lead. After an insurance run, Angel Reyes’ work in relief kept the Loons at bay, while Gardea needed a six-out save, his eighth of the season, to help the Whitecaps to a 3-2 win, clinching the series.

Arguably the best player in the series was shortstop Gage Workman.

Workman spent half of 2021 with the Whitecaps, before spending all of last season, and most of this year, with Double-A Erie. However, he was transferred to the development list of the Seawolves on July 13, before coming back to West Michigan a week later.

The shortstop has been a consistent bat in the lineup for the ‘Caps, and it showed up in Midland this past week. The former fourth-round pick of the Detroit Tigers scored five times in the series against the Loons, going 8-for-20 at the plate with two runs batted in.

Gage Workman

West Michigan Whitecaps' shortstop Gage Workman gets set defensively in a game against the Lake County Captains on August 2, 2023 (Photo Credit: West Michigan Whitecaps)

Thanks to a second-straight series win, West Michigan (55-51) is now in a tie for first in the East Division with the Dayton Dragons, both teams having a 23-18 record in the Second Half.


The Whitecaps return home this week for a great opportunity to pick up some wins against the South Bend Cubs, Advanced-A farm team of the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs (48-56) are trying to keep up with the best in the West division, but have not been consistent in the Second Half. They come into LMCU Ballpark with a 18-21 record, fifth in the West, six games back of the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

In their first six-game set in South Bend, the Cubs and ‘Caps came to a split.

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