GRAND CHUTE, Wis. – A wild and dramatic Game 1 of the Midwest League championship series ended on a wild pitch.
Rafael Neda scored on a wild pitch in the 10th inning, giving Wisconsin a 3-2 victory over the TinCaps in front of 1,574 towel-waving fans Wednesday at Fox Cities Stadium.
It was just one game that got away, Fort Wayne manager Jose Valentin said.
Neda led off the 10th with a single to right field. He moved to second on a bunt. Luis De La Cruz intentionally walked Brandon Macias. Chadwin Stang grounded out to second, moving the runners to second and third. Ben McMahan was walked intentionally to load the bases for Nick Ramirez.
De La Cruz threw wildly on the second pitch, bringing home Neda with the game-winning run.
De La Cruz has been pitching so good. It’s one of those games, probably the intensity, you want to do too much, Valentin said.
Game 2 of the best-of-five series is 1:05 p.m. today.
Fort Wayne didn’t capitalize on most of its scoring chances, going 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
It’s frustrating not getting the first win, outfielder Kyle Gaedele said. It was a very well-played game until the last couple of innings. We didn’t execute, myself included. They executed in the 10th, and they got runners in scoring position and found a way to win.
Fort Wayne got five solid innings from starting pitcher Joe Ross. He gave up two runs on two hits. Ross had some stretches of wildness, walking three. But he also struck out five.
Ross began by walking Macias. He moved to second on a bunt.
With McMahan up, Ross threw a wild pitch. Austin Hedges couldn’t locate the ball and Macias came all the way around from second to score the first run.
Fort Wayne tied the game with a run in the third. Gaedele walked and then stole second. With two outs, Travis Jankowski hit a grounder to first. Ramirez couldn’t field the ball and it went into right field. Gaedele scored, tying the game at 1.
Neda hit a two-out double in the fourth, bringing home Max Walla to give Wisconsin a 2-1 lead.
Fort Wayne tied the game in the seventh.
The inning started with an infield hit by Travis Whitmore. Lee Orr followed with a single to left field. Hedges then hit a grounder to third. Macias stepped on the bag for the first out. He threw to second for out No. 2. A throw to first was just wide of the bag, and was a little late, otherwise it would have been a triple play.
Duanel Jones came through for Fort Wayne with a triple to center field. Hedges scored, tying the game at 2.
Jones led off the 10th with an infield hit but was eventually stranded on second.
Wisconsin got its leadoff man on in the bottom of the inning. And found a way to get him home.
This is not a time to not execute, Valentin said.
Notes: Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and Grand Chute, Wis., Town Chairman David Schowalter have agreed to a friendly challenge for the series.
If the TinCaps win the series, Schowalter will send a basket of Merkts cheese to Fort Wayne and will wear a TinCaps’ jersey for a day.
If the Timber Rattlers win the series, Henry will send a basket of DeBrand Fine Chocolates to Grand Chute and will wear a Timber Rattlers’ jersey for a day.