Whitecaps build big lead early, top Dragons

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. –  West Michigan starting pitcher Matt Hall worked six strong innings and the Whitecaps built an early lead on the way to an 8-1 victory over the Dayton Dragons on Friday night.  The Whitecaps have won the first two games of the series.

West Michigan scored three runs in the first inning and added two more in the second to jump out to a 5-0 lead.  Meanwhile, Hall retired the first 14 Dragons hitters before Shed Long became the first Dayton player to reach when he doubled with two outs in the fifth.

The Dragons scored in the sixth when Ed Charlton doubled to start the inning and scored on Luis Gonzalez’s two-out single to make it 5-1.  But West Michigan answered with three runs in the bottom of the sixth to extend the lead to 8-1 and close out the scoring.

Dayton finished with five hits.  Long had two doubles to lead the way.  Gonzalez had two singles and the RBI. Shane Zeile had four hits as part of a 16-hit attack for West Michigan.  The Whitecaps benefited from having 21 at-bats with men in scoring position.

Dragons starting pitcher Tanner Rainey (0-3) worked three and one-third innings, allowing five runs on eight hits with three walks and two strikeouts to take the loss.  Reliever Jake Johnson followed Rainey and tossed two and one-third innings, surrendering three runs on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

The Dragons (3-13) battle the Whitecaps (8-7) again on Saturday at 4:00 p.m.  Jacob Constante (0-2, 5.91) will start for the Dragons against West Michigan’s Beau Burrows (0-1, 4.15).

The next home game is Tuesday, April 26 when the Dragons host the Kane County Cougars at 7:00 p.m. at Fifth Third Field.

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