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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 12:30 am

TinCaps fall short again, in 13 to Whitecaps

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

Another close game for the TinCaps, another heartbreaking defeat.

West Michigan's Cole Bauml sent a ball high into the night sky Monday, finally bringing a conclusion to a long evening at Parkview Field. His solo home run off Wilmer Torres in the 13th inning dealt the TinCaps a 3-2 loss in the opener of a three-game series before an announced crowd of 2,612.

"It feels great," Bauml said. "It was exciting. It was 2-0, and he threw two fastballs before, so I was looking for something I could drive."

Fort Wayne (3-8) has now dropped five games that were decided by two runs or less and resides in last place in the Midwest League's Eastern Division.

"Looking back at the game and kind of reviewing it, there is nothing that really stands out where there was a dramatic change," TinCaps manager Anthony Contreras said. "These guys battled, but West Michigan just came out with the win."

The Whitecaps (6-5) needed a ninth-inning RBI double from No. 8 hitter Anthony Pereira just to force extras. TinCaps reliever Mark Zimmerman blew the save but did work out of further trouble with two runners in scoring position, striking out Will Savage and forcing Cam Gibson to pop out.

"Just bad luck in that ninth inning off Zimmerman," Contreras said.

The TinCaps missed numerous chances after that to win it. In the bottom of the ninth, a one-out walk by Marcus Greene Jr. was all they could muster. Greene's sacrifice fly in the fourth had provided a 2-1 lead.

Gibson led off the game with a triple to the gap in right-center field and scored on a two-out bloop single by Blaise Salter.

The best moment for the home team came when G.K. Young launched his first home run of the season on Austin Sodders' full-count delivery in the second. Sodders pitched only four innings and gave up two runs on five hits, whereas Fort Wayne starter Will Headean went five innings and gave up one run on five hits with seven strikeouts.

"I thought he (Headean) did a good job of going after these guys and making them put the ball in play," Contreras said.

The TinCaps got standout relief outings from Nick Monroe (three scoreless innings) and David Bednar (two scoreless). Torres (0-2) had escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the top of the 12th by inducing a popup by Elvis Rubio and a groundout by Salter.

In the bottom of the 12th, Reinaldo Ilarraza doubled down the left-field line with two down, but Fernando Tatis Jr. went after the first pitch and hit it sharply right at the first baseman to end the inning.

Jorge Oña led off the bottom of the 13th with a single before Hudson Potts grounded into a double play. Eguy Rosario struck out to end it on a pitch that nearly brushed the side of his helmet as he attempted to check his swing. Field umpire Raul Moreno confirmed strike three.

It was not a good day to be a hitter, as the Whitecaps, an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, went 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position and stranded 13 baserunners. Fort Wayne finished 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10.

The TinCaps entered knowing they had improvements to make. Their start offensively was markedly different from the first 10 games of 2016. The TinCaps scored 35 runs in their initial 10 games this season; in 2016, Fort Wayne had scored 77.

On Monday, new West Michigan manager Mike Rabelo, who took over for three-year skipper Andrew Graham, masterfully used his bullpen to stifle the TinCaps' lineup. Whitecap relievers struck out 14 batters over nine innings and did not give up a run while issuing just two walks.

"Our whole staff has been great all year," Bauml said. "It's good to come through for those guys, too."

cgoff@jg.net