The West Michigan Whitecaps won the second game I saw at The Cove, blanking the South Bend Silver Hawks 3-0 behind a dominant outing by Whitecaps rookie pitcher Brian Flynn, who tossed seven innings for his first professional win.
It was only the second professional start for Flynn, who was drafted out of Wichita State by the Detroit Tigers in the seventh round of the June draft. Although he uncorked a few wild pitches that sailed past catcher Rob Brantly, Flynn dominated the Silver Hawks offense, which was shut out for the first time since May 14. Flynn allowed just three hits and one walk in seven innings, struck out five and picked off two of the four runners that reached against him.
West Michigan’s three runs were knocked in by 3B Nick Castellanos, SS Hernan Perez and C Rob Brantly. Reliever Nathan Newman earned the save.
Before and after the game
Unlike yesterday, today I had plenty of time to explore The Cove since gates opened two hours before game time. As a matter of fact, I arrived early enough to walk around the stadium and still be the first fan let in through the main gate.
While walking around the stadium, I was able to get a good look at the extensive renovation work taking place behind the centerfield wall. A new main entrance is being built in that area, along with a team store and more concession stands and restrooms.
After entering the stadium, I planted myself down the third-base line for a good view of the Whitecaps taking batting practice. Several foul balls were hit to my vicinity, but they were all snagged by people in the section directly to my left. I still got a ball anyway because as the Whitecaps headed in after batting practice, relief pitcher Ramon Lebron picked up two strays and tossed one to me. (That ball came in handy after the game when the Silver Hawks were signing autographs on the leftfield concourse. Now I have an authentic, used Midwest League baseball signed by the entire Silver Hawks team — a pretty cool piece of memorabilia from my Midwest League odyssey.)
I ate several food items during my two games at The Cove: a footlong hot dog (grilled, not boiled or roasted, with onions and peppers), a philly cheesesteak and a Double Lemon Chill. They all tasted good, as did the cherry-flavored “Big Slugger” margarita I drank yesterday.
The Cove features a variety of concessions, ranging from several kinds of grilled sausages to typical ballpark fare such as burgers, hot dogs, nachos and popcorn.
Although unrelated to food, something else worth noting is the vending machine that sells baseball cards. I’ve seen one like it previously, though I can’t remember where. Regardless, The Cove is the only Midwest League ballpark (of the five I’ve visited this season) that has one.
The Cove’s actual name is Stanley Coveleski Regional Stadium. The stadium is named after Stan Coveleski, a spitball pitcher who was inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969 with Roy Campanella, Stan “The Man” Musial and Waite Hoyt. Coveleski and others who made notable contributions to baseball in South Bend are honored with plaques inside the ballpark.