The TinCaps wanted to finish their season strong as they prepare for a playoff game against Bowling Green on Wednesday.
An eight-run third inning in an 11-10 win against Great Lakes on Monday at Parkview Field did just that.
Offensively, we showed up today, TinCaps manager Jose Valentin said. And that’s a great time to do it.
Fort Wayne (72-67, 29-41 second half) lit up Loons starter Brandon Martinez and replacement Thomas Taylor with the type of timely hitting Valentin hopes the TinCaps can carry into their best-of-three series against the Hot Rods.
Fort Wayne welcomed its 2 millionth fan in the past five seasons Monday, and the 6,083 who showed up for the milestone got a show.
Shortstop Tyler Stubblefield started the offense in the bottom of the second with a two-out single to right-center. The hit drove in left fielder Luis Domoromo and became a blip on the radar after the following inning.
Catcher Rodney Daal and center fielder Mallex Smith led off the third with consecutive singles, and right fielder Brian Adams moved the pair over on a sacrifice bunt.
Then came two more singles, from second baseman Maxx Tissenbaum and third baseman Diego Goris.
A strikeout by designated hitter Hunter Renfroe broke up the action, but Fort Wayne had six consecutive batters reach base – and six more score – before the end of the inning.
That was big for us, Tissenbaum said. We’ve kind of been waiting on a big inning like that, and to finally get it on the last day of the year, right before the playoffs, is big.
Great Lakes (67-72, 40-29) got its first run in the top of the fifth off an error by first baseman Luis Tejada, but the TinCaps tacked on another in the bottom half after a Great Lakes error.
Great Lakes rallied in the top of the sixth with five runs off reliever Matthew Chabot, the fifth Fort Wayne pitcher. The Loons scored another four runs in the seventh to tie it and chased Chabot.
Fort Wayne used seven pitchers to tune up for the coming series against the Hot Rods.
We got to get those guys out of the bullpen, Valentin said.
Great Lakes squandered its comeback on two more miscues in the bottom of the seventh. They were the fifth and sixth errors of the day for the Loons.
Daal reached on a leadoff single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Smith. Then, a pickoff attempt by reliever Arismendy Ozoria went into the outfield, and center fielder James Baldwin also botched his throw, which allowed Daal to score and give the TinCaps an 11-10 lead.
That advantage would stand, as Trevor Gott picked up the hold and Roman Madrid the save.
We just got to count on everybody, come Wednesday, Valentin said. As a team, we’ve been inconsistent, but we’ve been tough to beat. It’s not gonna be easy.