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The Journal Gazette

  • Josh Evans | The Journal Gazette Fort Wayne’s G.K. Young attempts to make a tag as Great Lakes’ Cristian Santana dives back to first base in the first inning of Wednesday’s game at Parkview Field.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Hudson Potts rounds the bases after hitting a grand slam in the second inning of Wednesday's game against Great Lakes at Parkview Field. Potts had seven RBI in the game.

Thursday, August 31, 2017 1:00 am

TinCaps 7, Great Lakes 5

Potts' shots power TinCaps to win

7 RBI one short of team mark as magic number at 1 to clinch playoff berth

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

TinCaps vs. Great Lakes

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

The talk of the ballpark may have been the TinCaps' magic number for clinching a playoff spot for the eighth time in nine years – that number is down to one – but the real story Wednesday was the magic of Hudson Potts.

His early work, hitting a three-run home run in the first inning and a grand slam in the second, gave Fort Wayne a significant cushion in a 7-5 victory over the Great Lakes Loons in front of 4,780 fans at Parkview Field.

Potts was 2 for 5 with seven RBI, one short of the TinCaps' franchise record set by Tom Knauss in 1993 and equaled by John Schroeder in 1996 – both in road games.

Fort Wayne (40-25 in second half, 66-69 overall), which opened a three-game series with the Loons (30-35, 66-68), has won 32 of its last 49. Fort Wayne is battling for a playoff spot with South Bend, which lost 2-0 to West Michigan. The TinCaps, who missed the 2016 postseason, would secure a playoff berth with a victory today or a South Bend loss to West Michigan.

Potts, the 18-year-old first-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres in 2016, has 19 home runs, leapfrogging the 18 of Brad Zunica for the most by a player on theroster. Zunica, however, has been on the disabled list since Aug. 10 because of a broken bone in his foot. Fernando Tatis Jr. had 21 before moving up to Double-A San Antonio on Aug. 21.

TinCaps manager Anthony Contreras raved about Potts' development and the third baseman showed his aptitude by hitting his homers on 1-2 counts.

“I'm changing a little bit with my two-strike approach,” Potts said. “I'm not changing my swing or anything, but I'm letting the ball travel a little bit more and kind of reacting instead of just trying to hit the ball hard.”

Potts has 17 of his 19 home runs after May 31, when the TinCaps were 53 games into the season, though he doesn't have a clear answer for what started clicking then.

“I'm not really sure,” he said. “I'm just not missing as many pitches as I was early in the year, when it's cold and all that. I've learned a lot throughout the year about staying aggressive and all that, and it's been fun.”

Contreras credited Potts' ability and his work ethic.

“He's made adjustments. He's a smart baseball player and he's going to go check video. He might make some subtle physical (changes), but he knows what pitches to look for and he knows what he wants to do. You could see the confidence change,” Contreras said.

Note: The TinCaps will wear special jerseys Friday night and auction them off at TinCapsJersey.com. The proceeds will go to Minor League Baseball Charities to benefit those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas. MiLB will match up to $10,000 in donations and the Midwest League will match up to $5,000. The jerseys are of the “fauxback” style from the TinCaps' July 7 '70s Night.

jcohn@jg.net