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The Journal Gazette

Monday, May 14, 2018 10:30 pm

TinCaps beat Whitecaps, 5-3, snap four-game losing streak

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

How it Happened

TinCaps (15-21) starter MacKenzie Gore struggled right away tonight, as the Whitecaps (19-17) touched him for three runs in the first inning. With one out, Gore gave up a fluke single that ricocheted off third base. Dylan Rosa hit next and lofted a fly ball to right that kept carrying, eventually flying over the Miller Lite sign for a two-run homer. The ball traveled 345 feet and left Fort Wayne behind 2-0. Gore struck out Colby Bortles next, but the third baseman reached on a dropped third strike. Reynaldo Rivera made that hurt with a double off the wall in left center that brought in the third run of the inning. It took Gore 32 pitches to get through the first.

The TinCaps responded in the bottom half, thanks to a contingent of their youngest players. With one out, Esteury Ruiz walked and moved to third on a single from Tirso Ornelas. Luis Campusano followed with another base hit, driving in Ruiz for Fort Wayne's first run. Luis Almanzar, 18, then lined hard to center and Ornelas raced home with the second run to make it 3-2. The sacrifice fly was Almanzar's first RBI with the TinCaps.

Fort Wayne drew even one inning later, thanks to mostly the same group of players. With two outs and nobody on, leadoff hitter Jeisson Rosario singled through the right side. On a 1-0 pitch, Ruiz lined a double into the left-field corner and Rosario raced all the way around to tie the score at 3. Ornelas followed with a walk, giving the top three hitters in the TinCaps lineup five times on base in six times at the plate, but Campuanso popped up to end the inning.

The TinCaps scored for the third inning in a row the next time at the plate. This time it was the bottom of the order that produced the run. Almanzar led off with an infield single, his first hit with Fort Wayne, and advanced to second on a passed ball. Gabriel Arias moved him to third with a perfect bunt down the third-base line that Arias beat out for a single. Jack Suwinski hit next and grounded back to the pitcher. Reliever Burris Warner tried to turn a double play, but his throw was wide at second and everyone reached, while Almanzar scored to put Fort Wayne in front 4-3.

Right-hander Mason Thompson relieved Gore and made that lead stand up into the late innings. Thompson had his third straight excellent appearance, throwing four scoreless innings and striking out six while walking just two. He gave up just two hits and struck out four straight in the fifth and sixth innings. 

The TinCaps got an insurance run in the eighth with plenty of help from West Michigan. With two outs, Suwinski grounded up the middle and shortstop Cole Peterson booted the ball. Jalen Washington followed with a slow bouncer to short and the ball scooted under Peterson's glove for another error. Rosario completed the string miscues with a ground ball to third. The throw pulled first baseman Reynaldo Rivera off the base and he dropped it, allowing Suwinski to score and put his team up 5-3.

Thompson faltered to start the eighth, throwing seven straight balls to open the inning and walking the first two hitters he faced. That was the end of his night and it put pressure on reliever Travis Radke. The left-hander was unfazed and retired three straight, two by strikeout, to end the last threat the Whitecaps put together.

Player of the Game: Esteury Ruiz

Ruiz went 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles, driving in his 19th run of the season with a two-bagger in the second. That total ranks second on the team and he's fast closing on team-leader Carlos Belen, who has 21. The third baseman also walked and scored in the first inning and has four extra-base hits in his last five games.

Facts and Figures

Today was the first of 21 straight days the TinCaps are scheduled to play. ... All eight TinCaps among the Top 30 Padres prospects played tonight ... The win snaps a four-game losing streak for Fort Wayne. ... Gore threw 57 pitches, including 36 for strikes in his second start back from a DL stint. He gave up three runs and struck out three in three innings. ... Over his last three appearances (two starts), Thompson has tossed 15 innings and given up two runs, striking out 14 and walking six. He got the win and leads the TinCaps with four victories. ... Rosario came in second in the league in runs scored with 28 and scored in the second. ... The Whitecaps came in with a 3.52 team ERA, the third-best mark in the Midwest League. ... West Michigan third baseman Colby Bortles is the younger brother of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. ... The TinCaps left 14 runners on base, including two in six different innings. ... Rosa's home run in the first inning was his third in the last eight games. He didn't have any in his first 22 games.

What's Next?

These teams will meet again Tuesday at Parkview Field for another 7:05 p.m. start. Left-hander Osvaldo Hernandez (2-2, 3.24 ERA) will be on the mound for Fort Wayne after spending a week on the disabled list. The Padres transferred right-hander Emmanuel Ramirez from Fort Wayne to high-A Lake Elsinore Sunday, making room for Hernandez on the roster. Right-hander Elvin Rodriguez (2-2, 6.85 ERA) will start for the Whitecaps.

dsinn@jg.net