Grand Rapids, Mich – Bennett Pickar’s ground ball single with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning brought in Dominic Ficociello from third base with the winning run as the West Michigan Whitecaps outlasted the Dayton Dragons 1-0 on Friday night.
The Whitecaps completed a sweep of the three-game series and opened a three-game lead over the Dragons in the first half wildcard race with 15 games to play. The Dragons lost all six games on their road trip and will head home to face Lansing on Saturday night at Fifth Third Field.
The game-winning rally began when Ficociello lined a sharp singled under the glove of Dragons second baseman Jamodrick McGruder with one out in the bottom of the 11th against Dragons reliever Ryan Kemp. Jeff Holm walked on a close 3-2 pitch, and Wynton Bernard singled to load the bases. Kemp struck out Willy Adames for the second out, but Pickar, batting only .169, delivered a ground ball in the hole into left field to end the game.
Neither team had many scoring opportunities over the first 10 innings. The Dragons had only two runners past first base over the course of the game and West Michigan had only one runner as far as third before the 11th.
Dragons starting pitcher Amir Garrett was outstanding, turning in his finest performance of the season. He worked six shutout innings, allowing three hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Pedro Diaz replaced Garrett and was just as effective, tossing three shutout innings while allowing just one hit and no walks. He struck out two. Kemp pitched a perfect 10th inning before surrendering the run in the 11th.
The Dragons collected just five hits. Sammy Diaz was 2 for 3 with a walk.
The Dragons fell to 27-26 with the loss while West Michigan improved to 31-24.
The Dragons return home on Saturday to open a three-game series with the Lansing Lugnuts at 7:00 p.m. Nick Travieso (5-2, 2.87) will start for the Dragons against Lansing’s Chase De Jong (0-2, 3.95).
Notes: Dragons outfielder Jeff Gelalich left the game in the fourth inning after fouling a ball off his foot an inning earlier. Gelalich tried to stay in the game but was clearly in a great deal of pain.