August 14th, 2012
Fifth Third Field-Comstock Park, MI: The first game of the three-game series between the West Michigan Whitecaps and the Bowling Green Hot Rods was marked by controversy. The highly contested ballgame went into extra innings, and it seems the ‘Caps had the victory as Eugenio Suarez crossed the plate after being driven in by a double by Aaron Westlake. He and Westlake were being mobbed by teammates, although their celebration would be short-lived. Home plate umpire Ben Guttenberger ruled that Suarez did NOT cross the plate, and that he was out after being tagged by a Hot Rods player. Despite the fact that every reply proved that he did touch the plate, the call stood. The Whitecaps went on to lose 2-1 in 15 innings.
Manager Ernie Young told MLive.com: “I don’t know what to say. That’s a call that…Damn, I really don’t know what to say. I’m at a loss for words on that play.”
Westlake now leads the Midwest League in doubles with 34. He was also in shock, after being dubbed the hero for his efforts.
“We were celebrating as a team, it’s already been a long game and you think the game is over and all of a sudden something like that happens. It kind of takes the wind out of your sails. That’s baseball. We still battled together. In the end, we did score that winning run. I’ve got not much more to say about that.”
The Whitecaps pitching staff kept their team in the game the whole time, though. Starter Marcelo Carreno on allowed one run on five hit, while striking out one and walking one. Slade Smith, Jade Todd, and Melvin Mercedes kept the Hot Rods at bay the rest of the way.
The Whitecaps would bounce back in game two of the series, for the 3-2 win. Suarez scored the eventual winning run in the third inning, stomping on home plate just to drive the point home that he had scored. It was another Aaron Westlake doubled that scored him, too.
“I was frustrated about last night, and wanted to let everyone know that I touched home plate”, Suarez also stated to MLive. com. “I felt so bad right after the umpire’s call because I know that I touched home plate. I knew it wasn’t my fault and the umpire made a bad call. I tried to forget about it.”
On the mound for the ‘Caps, Jeff Ferrell game up one run on six hits in five innings. Reliever Nick Avila came in and protected the lead in the late innings. Westlake ended up with two doubles and two RBI’s to lead West Michigan offensively.
Bowling Green won the rubber match, though, 10-4. On the hill, West Michigan hurler Chad Smith had thrown four hitless innings before getting knocked around in the fifth. This is just Smith’s third start since being promoted from the short season Connecticut Tigers. He’s been on a pretty strict pitch count and hasn’t pitched more than four innings in his last two starts. He as a 17th round pick by Detroit last year, and is still making his come back after Tommy John surgery last season.