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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 2:20 pm

TinCaps beat Whitecaps 3-2

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

How it Happened

The TinCaps started 18-year-old Luis Patino on the mound and he immediately ran into trouble. He got two quick outs in the first inning, but then gave up a double down the left-field line to Luke Burch. Burch moved to third when Patino threw a pickoff attempt into center and scored on a soft single up the middle from Reynaldo Rivera, putting West Michigan in front 1-0. It was the third straight game the Whitecaps took the lead in the first two innings. On a more positive note for Patino, he hit 96 mph on the radar gun in the first inning and got a lot of soft contact.

Patino was much more impressive in the second inning, striking out two on hard-breaking curveballs. His fastball remained at 96, while his curveball broke in at 78 mph, keeping Whitecaps hitters off balance. He also showed some variation in his delivery, doing an extra leg waggle every few pitches to change the tempo.

In the bottom of the second, the young pitcher got some help from the Fort Wayne offense. Luis Almanzar led off with a walk and reached second on a ground ball back to the pitcher. Gabriel Arias hit next and grounded hard up the middle. Shortstop Cole Peterson got to it and tried to throw Arias out, but the throw sailed into the Fort Wayne dugout, letting Almanzar trot home from second and knot the score at 1-1. 

The TinCaps struck again in the third, this time without the help of any miscues. Esteury Ruiz singled to lead off the inning and then stole second on slow-delivering Whitecaps pitcher Matt Manning. Manning hit Carlos Belen and Luis Almanzar followed with a soft single to center, driving in Ruiz from second with the go-ahead run. Two batters later, Arias lined down the right-field line for a double. The ball was barely fair, landing directly on the line, but it was enough to drive in Belen and put Fort Wayne ahead 3-1.

Patino cruised through the middle innings, but in the sixth he began to falter. An infield hit put a runner on first and prevented first baseman Carlos Belen from getting to a chopper from the next batter that sctooted through the right side for another hit. Patino battled with Brady Policelli, but eventually walked him on nine pitches to load the bases with nobody out. That ended the starter's day after five-plus innings, with Ben Sheckler taking over. Sheckler was terrific, getting a double play ground ball and an easy grounder to short to end the threat. One run scored to make it 3-2, but the reliever averted more serious damage and kept his team in the lead.

Sheckler worked the seventh and eighth and right-hander Jared Carkuff handled the ninth. Carkuff retired the side without incident to pick up his second save. 

Player of the Game: Ben Sheckler

The reliever pitched the TinCaps out of trouble in the sixth after coming in with the bases loaded and nobody out and wriggled out of a jam of his own making in the seventh with another double play. He worked three scoreless innings in all, giving up two hits and striking out two. He kept Fort Wayne in front after inheriting a 3-1 advantage.

Facts and Figures

Whitecaps starter Matt Manning was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2016 draft and is the No. 51 prospect in baseball per MLB.com. He struck out eight in five innings, running his strikeout total to 34 in 20 2/3 this season.... TinCaps starter Luis Patino made his first appearance in the Midwest League, pitching five innings and giving up one earned run on five hits while striking out four and walking one. The 18-year-old gives the TinCaps the six youngest players in the Midwest League.... Designated hitter Juan Fernandez went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, ending his on-base streak at 21 games. He had been on base in every game he'd had a plate appearance this season. The 21-game streak was the third-longest active streak in the league.... Arias had two hits for Fort Wayne, just his second multi-hit game in the last 28.... The Whitecaps made one error, giving them a total of eight this series.... The TinCaps sent reliever Adrian Martinez down to extended spring training before the game.... Fort Wayne turned two 3-6-1 double plays in the game and three double plays overall.

What's Next?

These teams will play the series finale Thursday night, with the TinCaps looking to take three of four games. First pitch will be at 7:05 p.m. at Parkview Field, but before that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett and tight end Jack Doyle will be signing autographs at the stadium and throwing out first pitches as part of the "Colts At Bat" initiative. Aaron Leasher (1-2, 3.31 ERA) will be on the mound for Fort Wayne, while right-hander Jesus Rodriguez (2-1, 4.05 ERA) will start for the Whitecaps. 

dsinn@jg.net