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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, May 05, 2019 5:10 pm

TinCaps fall to Quad Cities, 4-3 in 11 innings, get swept

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

How it Happened

The game was the second pitcher's duel for the TinCaps and River Bandits in three days, with the teams matching zeroes through six innings. TinCaps starter Adrian Martinez, pressed into service after Ryan Weathers was scratched, was dealing all afternoon. The 6-foot-2 22-year-old worked quickly, flashing a 96 mph fastball and pitching mostly to contact. He pitched around a leadoff double in the second inning and got help in the third when catcher Blake Hunt threw out two runners stealing in the third (both had walked). Otherwise, the right-hander was never really in trouble and he went through five innings unscathed.

The TinCaps couldn't push across any runs, either, though they did put at least one runner on in each of the first six innings. Fort Wayne squandered an opportunity with runners on second and third and one out in the first, but its best chance came in the fifth.

Starting pitcher Brett Daniels was still on to start that fifth and surrendered a leadoff double to Nick Feight before walking Jawuan Harris and Tucupita Marcano to load the bases with nobody out. Grant Little stepped up with a chance to put his team in front and rapped a hard ground ball near short. The drawn-in shortstop Jeremy Pena gloved it backhand and fired home for a force, cutting off the run. Agustin Ruiz followed with the bases still loaded and grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, ending the inning.

TinCaps reliever Austin Smith kept the game scoreless through the sixth, but in the seventh the River Bandits finally broke through. Jeremy Pena led off with a single and Enmanuel Valdez followed with a line drive to right field. Dwanya Williams-Sutton appeared to make a terrific sliding catch, but the base umpire ruled that Smith had balked during the pitch, negating the out and sending the runner to second. Gifted a second chance, Valdez ripped a single back up the middle and Pena scored easily for the game's first run. Though there was no chance to cut down the run, Harris unwisely lofted a high throw home from center field, missing the cut-off man and letting Valdez reach second. That proved important as Valdez reached third on a fly ball to right and eventually scored on a grounder to first, giving the River Bandits an important insurance run that probably shouldn't have scored. At the point, it was 2-0.

It remained that way into the bottom of the eighth, when the TinCaps rallied against reliever Luis Garcia. The uprising started with a ground ball to third from Grant Little. Valdez, playing third, tried to pick it off the short hop and knocked the ball well into foul territory. Little alertly raced all the way to second. Agustin Ruiz followed a ripped a line drive to deep left, over everyone's head and off the wall on one bounce. Little scored easily to slice the deficit in half. The TinCaps tied it one batter later when William-Sutton muscled up and dumped a soft single into center. He was jammed on the pitch, but it got the job done, scoring Ruiz to make it 2-2. There was still no one out at that point, but Garcia struck out three straight from there to keep the score tied.

The score stayed deadlocked into the 10th, when minor-league rules dictate a runner starts the inning on second base. Both teams escaped jams in the 10th, but in the 11th the TinCaps' defense struggled. Pitcher Carlos Belen threw a pickoff attempt into center field and the runner reached third. The next hitter, Jonathan Lacroix, popped to right-center. Williams-Sutton and Harris converged, but neither took charge and the ball dropped as they collided, bringing in the go-ahead run. The sun also played a role in the drop. Two batters later, Valdez singled and Lacroix came around to score to make it 4-2 Quad Cities.

In the bottom half, Justin Lopez came around to score on a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly, but Nick Feight took a called third strike on a fastball and the TinCaps lost.

Player of the Game: Adrian Martinez

Martinez, making his first start of the season, had arguably the best start of his pro career, certainly his best appearance with the TinCaps. He went five shutout innings, striking out three, walking two and giving up just two hits. Over his last two outings, Martinez has pitched eight scoreless innings, giving up just three hits. He got a no-decision.

Facts and Figures

The TinCaps are a season-worst five games below .500. They went 1-5 on this home stand. ... The River Bandits came into the game with the best record in the Midwest League (17-10). ... This was the first extra-inning game of Fort Wayne's season. ... Before the game, the TinCaps announced top prospect Ryan Weathers had been scratched from his scheduled start and placed on the seven-day injured list. Weathers left his start against South Bend last Sunday after two innings for precautionary reasons. Right-hander Austin Smith was added to the Fort Wayne roster in Weathers' place. ... Xavier Edwards was out of the lineup after leaving Saturday's game in the sixth inning. ... Tucupita Marcano went 1 for 3 with a walk extending, his on-base streak to 13 games. ... Daniels tossed five shutout innings innings for Quad Cities, striking out three and walking three. ... Valdez went 3 for 5 with a double, run scored and two RBI. ... It was Bark in the Park Day at Parkview Field, with fans allowed to bring their dogs along. ... Former TinCap and Norwell graduate Josh VanMeter was called up to the major leagues Sunday. The 24-year-old will play for the Cincinnati Reds.

What's Next?

The TinCaps embark on a nine-game road trip starting Monday with three-game series against Wisconsin, Beloit and Lake County. Ramon Perez will start the series opener against the Timber Rattlers on Monday, with Efrain Contreras and Gabe Mosser to follow.

dsinn@jg.net