SOUTH BEND – Fort Wayne needed to win two in a row against South Bend to move on to the Midwest League Championship Series.
The TinCaps took the first step, and staved off elimination, with a 5-1 win against the Silver Hawks on Sunday at Four Winds Field.
Manager Jose Valentin's team greeted the must-win game with clutch hitting, clinical pitching and confidence in the field.
Fort Wayne (73-67, 3-1 playoffs) and South Bend (81-58, 3-1 playoffs) had played eight games decided by one run or less before Sunday's contest and 14 with a margin of three or fewer runs.
This contest, a must-win game for the TinCaps, was also hotly contested for most of the game.
South Bend starter Rob Coe and TinCaps starter Colin Rea each pitched seven innings. Home runs by Fort Wayne right fielder Hunter Renfroe and Silver Hawks third baseman Brandon Drury, which both came in the sixth inning, were the lone blemishes for both pitchers.
Rea struck out six batters in his outing, intentionally walked one batter and gave up just three hits, including the solo shot by Drury. The TinCaps roughed up Coe a bit more, with five hits in seven innings, but only had the homer by the San Diego Padres' 2013 first-round draft pick to show for it.
Enrique Garcia came on in place of Coe in the eighth inning. The lefty struggled immediately.
Center fielder Alberth Martinez started the inning with a base hit, and third baseman Gabriel Quintana followed that up with a two-run home run deep over the wall in left-center. It was the 10th homer of the season for Quintana, who was batting .305 for the TinCaps entering Sunday's game.
Renfroe got back into the action next with a triple to center, and left fielder Luis Domoromo scored him on a base hit. With four straight hits and three runs to his name, Garcia was yanked for Tyler Green.
After a quick out, Green loaded the bases on a walk and single that pushed Domoromo to third. Designated hitter Mallex Smith worked to a 3-2 count and forced a fielder's choice that brought in another run to give the TinCaps a four-run cushion.
Fort Wayne batted around in the eighth, which proved to be the decisive inning.
Chris Nunn relieved Rea in the eighth, while Roman Madrid came on in the ninth. Madrid gave up an unearned run in the inning, but sealed the game for Fort Wayne.
The TinCaps and Silver Hawks play at 7:05 p.m. Monday for a spot in the Midwest League Championship Series and the Eastern Division crown.