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Whitecaps sweep Dragons

Tribune Staff • Jul 21, 2015 at 10:54 AM

It started to rain as the bottom of the first began. Dixon Machado led off the inning with a single, but shortly thereafter the rain turned to hail and the game was put into a weather delay.

Play resumed 55 minutes later and the Whitecaps went back to work. Machado advanced from first to third on a base hit by Luis Castillo and scored on a groundout by Rob Brantly. One inning later, Ryan Hamme drew a walk and scored on a two-out triple by Jeff Rowland to cut the deficit to 3-2.

West Michigan took the lead for good in the fourth. Singles by Castellanos and P.J. Polk put men at first and second with one out when Rowland fought off a broken-bat liner up the middle. The one-hopper was mishandled by shortstop Billy Hamilton, allowing Castellanos to score. Two batters later, Castillo lined a single to right to bring in Polk for a 4-3 edge.

Castellanos tripled and scored in the fifth to stretch the lead to 5-3, while the Dragons scratched across an unearned run in the seventh to make it a one-run game.

The slim margin held up thanks to a strong effort from the bullpen. Dan Gentzler, Ramon Lebron and Bruce Rondon combined to  allow just one unearned run over six innings while striking out 10 and walking one. Gentzler (1-0) picked up the win with three strong innings despite pitching on back-to-back nights, while Rondon (3) struck out three and stranded the potential game-tying run at second base to earn the save.

Dayton’s Josh Smith (2-3), who entered play leading the league in strikeouts and tied for sixth in ERA, suffered the loss. The righty, whose outing was disrupted by the lengthy first-inning rain delay, was charged with four runs — two earned — on six hits over 3.1 innings.

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