DAYTON, Ohio – West Michigan starting pitcher Austin Kubitza and two relievers combined to scatter five hits as the Whitecaps defeated the Dayton Dragons 5-1 on Sunday afternoon. A crowd of 8,003 attended the game at Fifth Third Field as the teams split the season-opening four-game series.
Kubitza struck out eight Dragons over five strong innings, allowing one run on three hits with no walks to earn the win. Reliever Joe Mantiply followed Kubitza to the mound and tossed three near-perfect innings, retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced. Montreal Robertson pitched a scoreless ninth inning to close out the Whitecaps win.
West Michigan took advantage of three Dragons errors leading to four unearned runs in the game. Their big inning was the fifth when they scored three times to build the lead to 5-1.
After the Whitecaps scored one run in the top of the first, the Dragons tied the game in the bottom of the inning. Beau Amaral singled, stole second, went to third on Sammy Diaz’s bunt single, and scored on Sebastian Elizalde’s ground out to make it 1-1.
The Whitecaps scored an unearned run in the fourth to take a 2-1 lead then took command in the fifth, keyed by a two-run double by Ben Verlander to jump ahead 5-1. The Dragons rarely threatened after scoring in the first. They advanced only two runners as far as second base and did not reach third over the final eight innings.
Dragons starting pitcher Amir Garrett suffered the loss. He worked four and one-third innings, allowing seven hits and five runs (one earned) with three walks and four strikeouts.
The Dragons finished with five hits. Phillip Ervin’s ninth inning double was the only extra base hit.
The Dayton bullpen had another strong game. Zack Weiss, Evan Mitchell, and Scott Brattvet combined to go four and two-thirds scoreless innings. The bullpen corps allowed just two runs in the series over 13.2 innings.
The Dragons do not play on Monday before opening a six-game road trip in Peoria, Illinois against the Peoria Chiefs on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. (EDT). Julio Morillo will make his first start of the year for the Dragons against Peoria’s Nick Petree.
Notes: Dragons pitchers walked just 10 batters in the four-game series…Amaral stole a base in three of the four games in the set.