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The Journal Gazette

  • TinCaps second basemen Eguy Rosario reaches for a bouncer from Cole Bauml of West Michigan in the sixth inning at Parkview Field on Tuesday. (Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 1:00 am

TinCaps 2, West Michigan 1

9th-inning rally lifts TinCaps past Whitecaps

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

TinCaps vs. West Michigan

When: 11:05 a.m. today

Where: Parkview Field

Tickets: $12.50, $10, $8, $5 (lawn)

TV: Comcast Channel 81

Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM

As the TinCaps' celebration drifted into center field, teammates doused Rod Boykin with Gatorade, water and other things.

“Lot of stuff being thrown everywhere,” said a grinning Boykin, whose ninth-inning RBI single Tuesday night sent the TinCaps to a 2-1 win over West Michigan before an announced crowd of 3,046 at Parkview Field.

Fort Wayne (4-8) tied the game earlier in the ninth on Fernando Tatis Jr.'s RBI double. After Tatis reached third base with one out, the Whitecaps (6-6) issued intentional walks to Brad Zunica and Marcus Greene Jr. to set up a force play at every base as they attempted to keep the score tied and force extra innings.

Boykin had other ideas and lined a 1-2 slider from Bryan Garcia (0-2) sharply into center. Before the ball even landed on the grass, Fort Wayne's players had begun rushing out of the dugout and onto the field.

“I just stayed composed,” Boykin said. “My first two swings probably got too big. Third swing, short to the ball. Line drive up the middle.”

The TinCaps caught a glimpse of Boykin's ability to hit in the clutch last season. He brought the team back from the edge of defeat Aug. 5 with a two-out RBI single in the ninth inning at South Bend in a game the TinCaps eventually won in the 15th. More heroics came Aug. 9 when Boykin offered another ninth-inning reprieve with a tying RBI single at Lansing.

“You never know at this level who's going to come through,” Fort Wayne manager Anthony Contreras said. “Tatis had been struggling the last few games and comes up with the big hit. I don't really care who's in that situation because I kind of want all of them to be in that situation at some point.”

Neither team scored until Jake Robson hit an RBI double in the eighth.

The TinCaps wasted a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the bottom of that inning when Reinaldo Ilarraza struck out and West Michigan turned a double play on Jorge Ona's sinking liner to left.

What helped Fort Wayne stay in the game was a strong start by Hansel Rodriguez, who pitched six shutout innings, allowing only four hits. Lou Distasio (1-0) took it from there, working the final three innings and giving up one run on three hits with five strikeouts.

“We told him before the game to go after these hitters,” Contreras said of Rod­riguez, who threw only 58 pitches. “They're not the best hitting team over there, and they were very aggressive putting balls in play. That had to be one of the fastest games I've been part of that went to the bottom of the ninth like that.”

After the TinCaps lost the opener of this three-game series in heartbreaking fashion, 3-2 in 13 innings, redemption came not a moment too soon.

“We came out strong,” Boykin said. “It always helps out to have confidence.”