FORT WAYNE – It was Justin Bieber night at Parkview Field. And just like the pop star’s hair, which was shown endlessly on the scoreboard on top of the TinCaps’ faces, the game was messy but hugely popular.
The TinCaps got an 8-3 victory over the Quad Cities River Bandits, or, as they were called Thursday – the River Biebers.
But Quad Cities was out of tune all night, and Fort Wayne (53-42, 10-16 second half) won for the third time in four games.
Way better, said TinCaps manager Jose Valentin, whose team had given up three unearned runs in a 4-3 loss to the River Bandits on Wednesday. We’re still not good quite yet. But it was a pretty good game and we got the hits when we had to.
The cheers of the 7,834 fans, who witnessed 11 Fort Wayne hits from eight players, along with post-game fireworks, drowned out the repeated plays of As Long as You Love Me and Baby.
Fort Wayne pitcher Max Fried started off clumsily by giving up a hit to Quad Cities leadoff man Teoscar Hernandez, who stayed on base thanks to shoddy defense. A pickoff throw from catcher Rodney Daal was in time but dropped by first baseman Diego Goris and a passed ball by Daal allowed Hernandez to advance to second before scoring on Carlos Correa’s RBI single.
Fried (4-4) settled down, giving up five hits and two runs (one earned) with five strikeouts and a walk in five innings.
Fried was pretty much battling, Valentin said. He went five innings, but it wasn’t easy for him there. His tempo looked too slow. He’d get behind the count and was lucky he could make the pitches when he had to.
It’s a situation where you can’t afford to go up there and give up 2-0 counts to every hitter. At the higher levels, they’re going to make you pay. You might get away with it now, but you’ve got to work for it and be aggressive with the hitters.
The Fort Wayne offense was led by Goris, who had a sacrifice fly in the first inning to tie it at 1 and a line-drive home run into left field for a 3-2 lead in the third.
Mallex Smith was 2 for 4 with two runs, two stolen bases and a triple, and Tyler Stubblefield was 2 for 4 with a double and a run.
The River Bandits (52-42, 14-11) committed two errors, hit two batters and gave up a passed ball, but Fort Wayne wasn’t always able to capitalize.
In the bottom of the fourth, Fort Wayne’s Chris Burke reached on an error, which was followed by a Luis Domoromo double. Burke was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice by shortstop Austin Elkins, and Domoromo was stranded.
The TinCaps atoned in the bottom of the fifth, going up 5-2 on Gabriel Quintana’s line-drive RBI single and Burke’s sacrifice fly. In the seventh, Smith’s triple was followed by an RBI sacrifice fly by Maxx Tissenbaum for a 6-2 lead.