The West Michigan Whitecaps used a four-run inning to beat the Cedar Rapids Kernels 4-1 and even the Midwest League Championship Series 1-1 Thursday.
That means the best-of-five series will last at least two more games, both of which will be played in Cedar Rapids over the weekend.
The first two-thirds of Game 2 resembled Game 1, as Kernels starting pitcher Sam Gibbons kept the Whitecaps scoreless through six innings. Cedar Rapids scored its lone run early on a second-inning triple by Max Murphy that scored Chris Paul, who had doubled.
The game’s momentum changed after the 7th inning stretch. With Gibbons still on the mound for Cedar Rapids, Kade Scivicque drew a walk and Christin Stewart doubled to put runners on second and third with no outs. Joey Pankake then singled home both runners on a play with some controversy attached to it. Scivicque scored easily, and Stewart didn’t touch home but was called safe because Kernels catcher Brian Navarreto was blocking the plate without possessing the baseball. Kernels manager Jake Mauer argued the call, leading to his ejection from the game.
At that point the Whitecaps led 2-1. They went on to score two more times in the inning — once when Kernels shortstop Nick Gordon made a fielding error, and again when A.J. Simcox got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Gibbons was removed from the game before recording an out in the 7th. His final line was 6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.
Whitecaps starting pitcher A.J. Ladwig got the win after giving up only one run on six hits and no walks in seven innings. He struck out two batters.
After an off-day for travel Friday, the series shifts to Cedar Rapids for Game 3 on Saturday and Game 4 on Sunday. Both are afternoon games. If necessary, Game 5 will be played Monday night in Cedar Rapids.
RHP Keaton Steele will start Game 3 for the Kernels. The Whitecaps have not announced their starter.
*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler