West Michigan became the first team to defeat the Cougars (22-13, 67-38) in a series at home with a 2-1 victory Sunday at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. A well-pitched matchup between the two top teams in the Midwest League ended with the potential tying run at third base.
Already leading 1-0, St. Charles native Jeff Holm gave the Whitecaps a crucial insurance run when he homered off Gerardo Concepcion in the ninth. Holm's solo blast was just the fourth hit for West Michigan all day.
Shawon Dunston Jr. continued his hot bat with a leadoff single to begin the bottom of the ninth and moved to third base on Jeimer Candelario's one-out double. Jacob Rogers batted representing the tying run. Rogers wasn't able to end the game, but he did manage to get the Cougars on the scoreboard.
A sacrifice fly by the Cougars' first baseman scored Dunston to trim West Michigan's lead to 2-1. Artie Lewicki struck out Cael Brockmeyer looking to close the door and pick up his first save.
Tyler Skulina (4-7) tossed his best outing of the second half but was the tough-luck loser. The Cougars right-hander worked 7 innings tying a season-high of 7 strikeouts. Raph Rhymes was the only hitter to really figure out Skulina as he connected on 2 of the 3 hits Skulina surrendered. Rhymes' second hit sailed over the left-field wall for a 1-0 West Michigan lead.
Jon Maciel (5-4) rolled as well with 6 shutout innings, not allowing a baserunner until Penalver's one-out double in the fourth. Maciel surrendered just 2 hits and walked nobody.
The Cougars look to avoid the sweep Monday with Daury Torrez (9-5, 2.93) on the mound against West Michigan's Kevin Ziomek (8-6, 2.32). First pitch at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark is at noon.