West Mich MLN: Caps Stay Hot

West Michigan picked up right where it left off last week winning seven of their last eight games including a 5-1 stance on a road trip that wrapped up Monday. Hovering back toward the .500 mark on the season, the ‘Caps hope to continue their momentum as the first half of the year nears completion.

Winning their second series in a row while stealing two of three against Lake County after toppling Dayton, the red hot ‘Caps kept on rolling against Great Lakes. In the span of their first two games against the Loons, West Michigan scored seven unanswered runs in game one and the first five runs of game two, for a total of 12 unanswered runs altogether. West Michigan then finished off the Loons with a 3-1 win to complete the sweep.

Wilsen Palacios tallied his team-leading sixth win of the season while Jeff Ferrell started a dominant bullpen performance striking out six of the eight batters faced for 2.2 perfect innings of work. Dave Bennett took advantage of his first save opportunity since May 8 and executed a 1-2-3 inning for his seventh save. Bennett would later collect his eighth save on the year after slamming the door shut on the Loons in game three of the series.

But it was first baseman Aaron Westlake who stole the show the following night. In a decisive 11-1 victory, the Vanderbilt product erupted for a career high seven RBI night at the plate. His performance was a single run shy of the Whitecaps' franchise record of eight RBI in a game. With Westlake batting for almost the cycle – eluded only by a triple – he barely outshined Eugenio Suarez who collected four hits for the second time in three games. Suarez is quietly building a wildly successful campaign where he's batting .318 this season – good for fifth best in the Midwest League – and a ridiculous .643 at the plate during a seven game hitting streak that was snapped Monday.

When your team is starting to play well and maybe up to its potential, as the manager, you can't help but like what you see with the energy your team is showing and putting out there.

"I've been pleased to see the enthusiasm out there and seeing our guys being fired up when someone comes through on a big hit or a big walk or whatever the case may be," said Ernie Young. "I mean, that's having fun."

Monday's win and sweep over the Loons wasn't the only thing the ‘Caps have swept lately. The Midwest League announced its weekly awards Monday and awarded Suarez Player of the Week and right handed pitcher Tommy Collier Pitcher of the Week.

Collier followed up his complete game shutout with another gem on Monday: a five inning, seven hit and one run outing that was good enough for his fourth win of the year.

Not only have the Whitecaps' recent surge caught the eyes of the league on a weekly basis, but also on the season as a whole as was evident in the form of All-Star selections this week. A total of five West Michigan Whitecaps can call themselves All-Stars as rosters for the 2012 All-Star game in a couple weeks were revealed.

Outfielder Steven Moya and designated hitter Dean Green were named starters while Suarez made the team as a reserve and Collier and relief pitcher Michael Torrealba also were awarded the honor.

Moya's resurgence at the plate might be the biggest surprise and accomplishment of the ‘Caps' All-Stars this season given that just a year ago, the Puerto Rican left handed hitter batted a less than extraordinary .204. This season, however, he's been scorching the rubber off the ball hitting .299 with five home runs and 28 RBI. Citing an offseason where he worked especially hard and became more comfortable with off-speed pitches faced at the plate as the reason for his improvement, Moya has been able to fight for longer at bats.

"I've been able to fight with two strikes in the count and try to foul off those bad pitches by just making contact," says Moya. "I try to shorten my swing a bit when I have two strikes and have become a lot more comfortable with the off-speed pitches."

West Michigan returns home tonight after another off-day yesterday to battle Fort Wayne and Great Lakes for three games apiece.

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