FORT WAYNE – The weekend’s three-game series against Lansing was full of season-bests for the TinCaps.
A season-best in hits, with 15, Friday. A new season best of 21 Saturday, along with 17 runs. And after Sunday, a tie for the season-best in consecutive wins and the first sweep of the series with a 7-5 victory over the Lugnuts at Parkview Field.
The TinCaps strung together 45 hits and 31 runs in the sweep.
We jumped on these guys all this series, said designated hitter Mallex Smith, who went 3 for 5 Sunday and scored four times. This last game, we didn’t want to change nothing because it’s been working.
On Sunday, Fort Wayne worked counts, swung aggressively at good pitches and managed to make up for some defensive slipups in the middle innings.
The TinCaps had a 5-0 lead in the top of the sixth, but a dropped foul ball by first baseman Luis Tejada gave Lansing a chance it jumped on.
The Lugnuts strung together five runs on two walks, three hits and a fielding error by third baseman Gabriel Quintana.
We can’t afford to get too lazy and play that kind of sloppy baseball like we played in the sixth, manager Jose Valentin said. We can’t afford to give up a lead for the guy that’s been there for six innings, pitching a great game.
That guy, Justin Hancock went 5 2/3 innings and gave up no runs in five straight 1-2-3 innings. But when reliever John Hussey came in after the first error, Lansing took the TinCaps’ momentum and tied the game at 5.
The TinCaps’ offense made up for their defense in the bottom half of the sixth. Catcher Rodney Daal took a second-pitch fastball and crushed it over the left-field wall for a solo home run to give Fort Wayne the lead again.
I’ve been struggling for a long time, Daal said. I saw a good pitch to hit, it was up a little bit and I just put a good swing on it. I think it helped a lot. Everybody got pumped up after that.
It was a product of a lot of daily work on hitting from the players and hitting coach Morgan Burkhart. The Lugnuts gave up an error of their own to Smith next, and a double by Maxx Tissenbaum and sacrifice fly by Diego Goris settled the final score line.
Valentin has no complaints about his team’s offense, but he would like to see more consistency from the pitching staff and defense.
There’s gonna be some times, probably, when we’re gonna face tough pitching on the other side and it’s not gonna happen, he said. Eighteen hits, 15 hits is not going to happen every day.
The defense shored itself up in the final three innings. The TinCaps gave up no runs, and Roman Madrid earned his third save of the season.
Fort Wayne plays at Bowling Green (12-4) at 8:05 p.m. today.