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The Journal Gazette

  • Nick Falzerano | For The Journal Gazette TinCaps pitcher Hansel Rodriguez and catcher Marcus Greene Jr. embrace after Fort Wayne's victory Sunday at Fifth Third Field in Dayton.

Monday, September 11, 2017 1:00 am

TinCaps 6 Dayton 0

TinCaps get shutout to keep season alive

Zunica, Greene hit homers to back Lawson's solid start

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

TinCaps vs. Dayton

Eastern Division Finals (Best of 3)

Series tied at 1

Game 1: Dayton 2, TinCaps 1

Game 2: TinCaps 6, Dayton 0

Game 3: 7 p.m. today in Dayton

DAYTON – Their season was on the line Sunday night, and the TinCaps responded with an assertive performance to extend their stay in the Midwest League playoffs – at least another day.

A 6-0 win over Dayton in Game 2 of the Eastern Division Championship Series forced tonight's winner-take-all Game 3, which will also be played at the Dragons' Fifth Third Field.

“Everybody was in their same mood,” Fort Wayne manager Anthony Contreras said. “We went through our regular routine. These guys were loose during (batting practice) and just enjoying baseball like they should, and I think it transferred over.”

Reggie Lawson, who pitched five shutout innings, allowing four hits with five strikeouts, had a lot to do with how the TinCaps bounced back from Saturday's 2-1 loss in Game 1 at Parkview Field.

In a Twitter posting, team president Mike Nutter praised Lawson for being a “great competitor.”

“He's one of the biggest competitors on our pitching staff,” Contreras said. “He shows it out there on the mound. He gets pumped up, and that's what we want. We want that excitement. We want that adrenaline.”

Lawson pumped his fist in the fifth when his defense helped him escape a two-on, two-out jam. Second baseman Justin Lopez, added to the roster after Reinaldo Ilarraza's first-round injury, made a diving stop on a sharply hit grounder to his left and threw to first to retire Dayton's Bruce Yari.

Earlier in the inning, Lawson required no aid against Jose Siri. The owner of the league's longest hitting streak swung over a pair of breaking balls as Lawson used Siri's aggression against him.

“My curveball, when it's spinning good, it's spinning real good,” Lawson said.

Offensively, Marcus Greene Jr. and Brad Zunica, sluggers in the middle of Fort Wayne's batting order, carried the day. Each finished 1 for 3 with a solo home run and a bases-loaded walk.

Their long balls came on back-to-back pitches from Matt Blandino in the second.

“Zunie has it in there whenever we need it,” Contreras said. “Marcus was hitting the ball on the screws (in Game 1) and wasn't rewarded; (Sunday) he gets rewarded for it.”

Dayton manager Luis Bolivar removed Blandino, who gave up four hits, with one out in the third. Blandino had just walked Zunica had just walked with the bases loaded to make it 3-0.

Lucas Benenati entered and didn't fare much better. After Greene worked a bases-loaded walk for a 4-0 edge, Benenati hit Jorge Oņa to force in another run.

The score remained 5-0 until Buddy Reed's ninth-inning RBI double.

By that point, an announced crowd of 7,284, hoping to see Dayton advance to the Midwest League Championship Series for the first time, had thinned.

“I think the guys are going to come ready (tonight) and give the best effort,” Bolivar said.

Fort Wayne, seeking its third trip to the league finals, will start Michel Baez against Dayton's Andrew Jordan.

“I've pitched in important games in Cuba,” Baez said through an interpreter. “I've got experience in this type of situation.”

cgoff@jg.net