A year ago, the TinCaps reached the Midwest League's championship series – ultimately losing to Wisconsin.
Despite sagging in the second half of this year, the TinCaps opened the postseason in fine fashion tonight by giving up only one hit and winning 6-1 over the Bowling Green Hot Rods in Bowling Green, Ky.
The best-of-three series continues at 7 p.m. Thursday at Parkview Field.
Fort Wayne was led by Joe Ross, who gave up only one hit in six innings. He struck out three and walked two. Only Marty Gantt was able to solve Ross, with a second-inning groundball single.
Not bad for a TinCaps team that was 29-41 in the second half of the season – tied for the worst record in the Eastern Division. That was in contrast to their 43-26 record in the first half, which earned them a second-place division finish and a playoff spot.
As for Bowling Green, it was the division's best team in the second half at 44-26, and the division's best team for the whole summer at 82-56, 10½ games ahead of the TinCaps.
Bowling Green defeated Fort Wayne in 8 of 12 games in the regular season.
Mallex Smith was 3 for 5 with two runs and two stolen bases for Fort Wayne. Hunter Renfroe was 2 for 3. Reynaldo Bruguera was 1 for 5 with two RBI, as Fort Wayne totaled nine hits.
Bowling Green's starting pitcher, Jeff Ames, gave up to six hits and five runs (four earned) in five innings, during which he struck out six and walked none.
That was all Fort Wayne would need.
Fort Wayne got its offense going in the top of the third when Bruguera's groundout scored Rodney Daal. Then, Alberth Martinez's groundout scored Smith, who had singled with a bunt and stolen second base, and the lead was 2-0.
In the fifth inning, another Smith steal precipitated his run for a 3-0 lead on a Bruguera double.
The TinCaps took control of things in the sixth, getting three runs for a 6-0 lead. That flurry included an RBI single from Luis Domoromo. Then, as Tyler Stubblefield reached base on a fielder's choice, Renfroe and Domoromo scored, thanks in part to an error by the catcher, Justin O'Conner.
Bowling Green got an unearned run in the ninth inning.
Game 3, if necessary, will at 7 p.m. Friday at Parkview Field.