TinCaps manager Jose Valentin said a day like this would come: one when his team wouldn't be able to get by without making the most of situational hitting.
Friday was that day. And instead of doing what Valentin had stressed the team must do – make contact and get men over in clutch situations – the team flopped.
To a point, anyway.
With runners on second and third and no outs in the bottom of the second, Fort Wayne had a golden opportunity to turn a two-run deficit on its head. Instead, two batters struck out back-to-back, which gave the runners no chance to advance. The final out of the inning came on the next batter, a harmless fly ball to right field.
Instead of carrying some momentum into the rest of the game, the TinCaps came away with nothing.
The home team failed to score in a similar scenario in the eighth, with runners on second and third after a sacrifice bunt. Luis Tejada came in and whiffed badly on some bad pitches for a strikeout, and Rodney Daal flew out to center to end the inning.
The bottom of the ninth proved an antithesis: a four-run inning that came from loaded bases with no outs. The TinCaps made some mistakes in that inning, but they came from being too aggressive, which the staff can live with.
This could be the exception to the rule for the TinCaps, who have been stellar at the plate for most of the season. Regardless, leaving runners in those spots hurts teams. Sometimes, the pitcher gets the credit, but Valentin has pointed out his players struggle with their approach in those must-hit situations in previous outings.
Fort Wayne got the win, which in the end is all that matters. But developing consistent habits in situational spots will be key for the TinCaps going forward.
Valentin has stressed it all season. Now, he has an example to use.
Carmon comes up big
The shortest player on the TinCaps roster came up with the biggest hit of the night after entering the game in the bottom of the ninth as a pinch runner.
Shortstop Stephen Carmon, who replaced Diego Goris in the lineup, came up with a line drive single to score Mallex Smith. His last walk-off hit, he said, was a home run when he was a junior in college.
It felt about the same, he said -- except this time, he got a jug of water poured on him and a shaving cream pie to the face.
"It's great to win on a walk-off at home," Carmon said. "If you hit a walk-off, it feels pretty good."