Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps' Fernando Tatis Jr. waits for a pitch during the first inning Saturday against Bowling Green. In the fifth inning, Tatis hit a two-run home run, his 21st, to set the franchise record.
Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps’ Reinaldo Ilarraza cheers after tagging out Bowling Green’s Jesus Sanchez on a steal attempt, ending the third inning.
Sunday, August 13, 2017 1:00 am
TinCaps 7, Bowling Green 1
TinCaps win in historic fashion
Tatis' 21st homer, a 2-run shot in 5th, sets franchise mark
CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette
TinCaps vs. Bowling Green
When: 1:05 p.m. today
Where: Parkview Field
Tickets: $12.50, $10, $8, $5 (lawn)
TV: Comcast Channel 81
Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM
When Fernando Tatis Jr. meets the ball with the barrel of his bat, the TinCaps' 18-year-old phenom usually gets to circle the bases.
It took Tatis only 111 games to break the franchise's single-season home run record. He hit a 420-foot blast in the fifth inning of Saturday night's 7-1 win over Bowling Green for his 21st home run of the season, besting the previous high by a Fort Wayne player, set by Jake Patterson in 1997.
At age 23, Patterson hit 20 homers in 121 games. Tatis still has another 22 regular-season games he can potentially play.
“I wanted it, and I wanted it quick,” said Tatis, who hugged hitting coach Doug Banks, among others, in the TinCaps' dugout. “A little congratulations. They were really happy for me.”
Parkview Field's public address announcer, Jared Parcell, immediately informed the crowd of 7,863 of Tatis' place in the record books after he smashed an 0-2 fastball over the left-field fence at an exit velocity of 107 mph.
“As a Dominican player fluent in English, he hits on so many things,” team president Mike Nutter said. “His defense is amazing, and I've been here 18 years and seen a lot of great seasons and a lot of people come and go, but what he's done at his age is just awesome. I told him (Saturday) how proud I was of how he's handled his business on and off the field.”
Tatis' two-run shot gave the TinCaps a 3-1 lead, which was more than enough with Adrian Morejon pitching.
Morejon went six innings and gave up just one run on five hits with five strikeouts.
In the end, the TinCaps' greatest challenge was negotiating with the family who caught Tatis' 21st homer. With clubhouse manager Sam Lewis trading a bounty of memorabilia, the fans eventually made the decision to give Tatis the ball.
“A Nick Hundley baseball bat, Robinson Cano bat, a team-signed bat, three Fernando Tatis Jr. autographed baseballs, a Reinaldo Ilarraza signed baseball and Tatis' 19th home run baseball,” Lewis said. “It was a younger kid with a whole family: mom, dad, grandpa. I kid you not, came back downstairs and back to their seats five-plus times with more stuff, and they finally gave it up.”
Tatis, who finished 1 for 3 with two walks and made three highlight plays in the field, was unsure what he would do with the ball.
The Hot Rods (60-55, 29-19 second half) scored the game's initial run on Jesus Sanchez's third-inning RBI single, an infield chopper that deflected off Morejon and Tatis, but Bowling Green never mustered much offense after that and committed two errors.
Fort Wayne (58-60, 32-16) tied the score in the bottom of the third with G.K. Young's RBI single and pulled away in the seventh on Jorge Ońa's RBI single and center fielder Garrett Whitley's run-scoring throwing error. Jack Suwinski added an RBI single in the eighth, and Ońa walked with the bases loaded to increase the lead to 7-1.
Tatis, a little uncomfortable talking about himself, admitted the record “means a lot” but seemed happiest with the win.
“(Morejon) is a tremendous pitcher,” Tatis said. “(The team did) a great job.”