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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, August 12, 2017 1:00 am

TinCaps 8 Bowling Green 7

Tatis ties HR mark in comeback win

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

TinCaps vs. Bowling Green

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

A linchpin to the TinCaps' success, Fernando Tatis Jr. slugged his 20th home run of the season on Friday night.

That matched Jake Patterson, who hit 20 in 1997, for the franchise's single-season home run record, but Tatis' feat was almost lost in the hard-to-believe nature of Fort Wayne's 8-7 win over Bowling Green at Parkview Field.

Once down 5-0, the TinCaps (57-60, 31-16 second half) overcame adversity in more ways than one, surviving the final four innings with G.K. Young, normally a first baseman, playing catcher.

A.J. Kennedy started at catcher but was removed just before the start of the third inning because of an apparent injury. With Fort Wayne's other primary backstop (Marcus Greene Jr.) unavailable, Luis Anguizola, who has some catching experience, took over behind the plate, but he left after the fifth. He had been struck by a foul ball, which was also Kennedy's issue.

Such a bizarre, unlikely string of events forced Young, into that position.

“I was kind of like, 'What in the world is going on?' Our team's falling apart, but I caught a couple first-rounders in high school, so I grew up catching pretty hard pitching, and it was cool to get back there and help the team out,” Young said. “I've been catching some bullpens, helping Marcus and A.J. out, so that helped me a lot, and A.J. was over there in the dugout calling pitches.”

The Hot Rods (60-54, 29-18 second half) appeared in great shape in the third when Tatis, who finished 2 for 3 with a walk, drove a two-run blast over the wall in left field. Clubhouse manager Sam Lewis helped retrieve the baseball for a memento.

“It means a lot, man,” Tatis said. “I've been working a lot, and I guess it's paid off already.”

Rated the fourth-best prospect in the San Diego Padres' farm system, Tatis has driven in 64 runs and hit .270 at the low-A level, but the most impressive part of his All-Star season has been the power at such a young age, 18.

“I'm just trying to get a good pitch, you know, and hit the ball on the barrel,” Tatis said. “That's it, man.”

Young, who walked with the bases loaded in the seventh to give the TinCaps the 8-7 lead, congratulated Tatis after the game.

“Tatis has become one of my really good friends in this organization,” Young said. “He is honestly one of the grossest 18-year-olds I've ever played with. He's got so much pop, and, the future, God only knows what it holds for him.”

Young's solo homer in the fourth brought the TinCaps within 5-3, and they trailed 7-3 before scoring five in the seventh. Jack Suwinski's two-run triple began the rally, followed by Buddy Reed's sacrifice fly to make it a one-run game. Jorge Oņa then tied with a bases-loaded walk on four pitches from Bowling Green reliever Joe Serrapica.

“It was a fun game,” Young said. “I don't know if anybody thought we were going to win that game after all our injuries and all the crazy stuff, but it was awesome the way the team played together and came back and won.”