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The Journal Gazette

  • The TinCaps' Nate Easley hits a ground ball in the second inning of Wednesday's game against Wisconsin at Parkview Field. (Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette)

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Jerry Keel of the TinCaps pitched six-plus solid innings against Wisconsin on Wednesday but did not receive the win.

Thursday, May 11, 2017 1:00 am

Tincaps 3, Wisconsin 2

Last-place TinCaps not lacking for confidence

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

TinCaps vs. Beloit

When: 7:05 p.m. today

Where: Parkview Field

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

TV: Comcast Channel 81

Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM

No moping. No bellyaching. No lack of belief and, certainly, no lack of fight.

The TinCaps' season hasn't often looked pretty, Wednesday's 3-2 win over Wisconsin notwithstanding, but players insist they are remaining confident and upbeat, saying there is no gloom and doom around the clubhouse.

“We all are positive,” outfielder Rod Boykin said. “Everybody's doing well; just (have to) grind.”

Nearly a quarter of the way through the season, Fort Wayne (12-21) is in last place in the Midwest League's Eastern Division.

Given how well Dayton, South Bend and West Michigan have played, the TinCaps would need an extended hot streak to get into the running for one of the division's two postseason berths that are awarded based on the first-half standings.

Making the playoffs, though, is never a stated goal, according to manager Anthony Contreras. If Fort Wayne earns a spot, Contreras would be pleased, but he's more focused on the daily progression of individual players than his team's win total.

“With these young kids, every game's a learning experience,” Contreras said. “One thing they need to learn is not every inning is going to go as smooth as they want, and when they face a little adversity they need to be able to keep their emotions in check and still play the game the right way.”

Before a go-ahead two-run home run from Boykin in the bottom of the seventh, Wednesday's affair was anything but perfectly smooth.

In the top of that inning, Wisconsin (14-16) scored twice to lead 2-1 with the help of some shaky fielding by the TinCaps. An RBI single by Monte Harrison went off the glove of Eguy Rosario at third base, and a two-out error by Nate Easley at second allowed Harrison to break for the plate and slide in after the ball caromed to center fielder Jack Suwinski.

“That's a heads-up play by that guy,” Contreras said of Harrison, rated the No. 22 prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers' farm system. “He's very aggressive. Suwinski kind of lollipops it into second base, and they caught us napping.”

Suwinski did have a strong day at the plate, finishing 1 for 3 with a sacrifice fly that made it 1-0 in the fifth. It was his ninth RBI.

While Fort Wayne's offense has not been inspiring, pitching is what might be most encouraging about this club. Jerry Keel delivered 62/3 strong innings Wednesday, and although the Timber Rattlers' runs came after Blake Rogers entered, Rogers ended up getting the win.

David Bednar earned his third save in four opportunities, retiring Harrison on a comebacker for the final out with a runner on first.

“Pitching is very (good) this year,” Boykin said. “Anybody on our team wants to come in clutch, and I did that (Wednesday). I thought we did a good job.”

Notes: Former San Diego Padres star Trevor Hoffman, whose 601 saves rank second in MLB history, will sign autographs for roughly an hour on the Parkview Field concourse today beginning at 6:05 p.m. … The Colts announced that wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and defensive back Darius Butler will appear at Parkview Field on May 18 to sign autographs.

cgoff@jg.net