The TinCaps overcame several defensive miscues and won on a walk-off double from Justin Lopez in 10 innings, defeating the Lake County Captains 5-4 at Parkview Field tonight, snapping a season-long four-game losing streak.
How it Happened
TinCaps right-hander Carter Loewen, who picked up a tough-luck blown save in the ninth, struck out two in the 10th to strand the free runner at third base. In the bottom half, the TinCaps had not advanced their runners with two outs. At that point, Lopez hit a high fly down the left-field line. Three Captains surrounded the ball and it looked like shortstop Jose Tena was camped under it, but he overran it and the ball landed about a foot inside the line, bringing in the winning run on a bizarre play.
The TinCaps trailed 3-1 entering the bottom of the seventh, with High-A Central ERA leader Logan Allen still on the mound. Kelvin Melean got a game-turning rally started with a blooper down the right-field line that landed a foot inside the line for a double. Grant Little followed with a walk to put two on. Adam Kerner tried to drop down a sacrifice bunt, but Allen hit him in the back foot with a slider to load the bases. After a strikeout of Reinaldo Ilarraza, Allen's night was done, bringing on right-hander Alec Wisely.
Ethan Skender greeted Wisely with a long fly ball to center on his first pitch, deep enough to bring in Melean and cut the lead in half and also to advance to Little to third. The TinCaps were on the verge of letting a golden opportunity end with only one run across, but Wisely's first pitch to Dwanya Williams-Sutton was wild back to the screen. Little broke for the plate and in the game's key moment, the ball beat him to the plate after a good bounce off the backstop. Facing the prospect of making the third out on the bases, Little instead danced a little jig around the tag and somehow got his foot on the plate before he was tagged, tying the game.
Williams-Sutton then made that play hurt even more when he lashed a double to left field, driving in Kerner and putting the TinCaps in front 4-3.
The TinCaps were one out from closing out the victory in the ninth with a runner on first. Loewen induced a high fly to left that should have ended it. Left-fielder Little and center-fielder Ilarraza converged and Little seemed to settle under it with Ilarraza a step behind him, but the ball ticked off Little's glove and fell, letting the tying run score from first. Little put his hands on his knees in frustration after throwing the ball back in.
The game was tied at 1 heading to the sixth and TinCaps starter Matt Waldron had cruised through the fourth and fifth, retiring six hitters in a row with four strikeouts. In the sixth, however, Will Brennan led off and hit a long fly ball to the gap in right-center. Ilarraza gave chase, but he took a poor angle and the ball not only landed, but bounced past him and got to the wall, giving Brennan a chance to round the bases for a triple. Ilarraza is an infielder by trade and although he has the athleticism and speed to play center, he's still learning the finer points of the position and it cost the TinCaps a base in this case.
That one base became important when the next hitter, Brayan Rocchio hit a fly ball to medium-deep left field and Brennan raced home with the go-ahead run. Lake County extended its lead in the seventh to 3-1 when Lavastida and Bracho greeted reliever Sam Williams with back-to-back doubles.
The first run the Captains scored was because of defensive issues, as well. With two out and the bases empty in the third, Rocchio hit a slow chopper toward second. Justin Lopez charged and would have had an easy play, but the ball hit him in the wrist and fell to the dirt, letting Rocchio reach. Waldron kept his composure and immediately picked Rocchio off first, but in the ensuing rundown first baseman Yorman Rodriguez's throw toward second was wild and skipped into right field. Rocchio ended up on second and Jose Tena brought him in with a soft single up the middle for the game's first run.
Those were the only two runs the TinCaps right-hander surrendered in his six innings of work. The 24-year-old hurler gave up only two hit hard-hit balls – Brennan's triple and a Brennan lead-off double in the first that missed being a home run by inches – and kept the Captains off balance with a bevy of different pitches. His changeup was particularly effective, sitting in the low 80s as opposed to his 91-93 mph fastball and darting sharply downward as it neared the plate. He also flashed a slider with sharp good late movement and had solid command of all of his pitches most of the night. He did everything he needed to do, but took a tough-luck loss.
Player of the Game: Dwanya Williams-Sutton
The big outfielder had a game-tying triple in Wednesday's game and followed it up with a go-ahead double in tonight's contest. He finished 1 for 2 with the two-bagger and a pair of walks. The 2019 Midwest League OBP champion came into the game walking at a 21.6% rate, which would be the highest in High-A Central if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. Both of his walks came off of Allen, who had only given out five free passes all season previously. Williams-Sutton was intentionally-walked to lead off the 10th inning.
The TinCaps entered the game in last place in High-A Central, 4 1/2 games out of first. Fort Wayne is 2-7 against the Captains this season and 12-11 against everyone else. ... Waldron was picked by Cleveland in the 2019 draft. The Captains are a Cleveland farm team. Waldron's former teammates in the organization include Brennan, Rocchio, Lavastida, Bracho, George Valera and Raynel Delgado, all of whom were in the Captains lineup tonight. The TinCaps right-hander whiffed seven and walked just one. ... Allen came into the game with a 1.63 ERA. He gave up a season-high four runs and walked a season-high four. He had not walked more than two in any other start. ... Skender went 2 for 4 with two RBI and the game-winning run. ... Williams-Sutton came into the game with a .977 OPS that would rank third in the league if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. ... Right-hander Austin Smith pitched a 1-2-3 eighth for the TinCaps to earn a hold. ... It was the first extra-inning game of the season for Fort Wayne.
These teams will meet again Friday for the fourth matchup in the six-game series at Parkview Field. First pitch will be at 7:05 p.m. The TinCaps will send 25-year-old right-hander Gabe Mosser (1-2, 4.33 ERA) to the mound. Mosser went 3 2/3 innings and gave up two runs on five hits against the Captains on May 13. He has an 8.38 ERA in his last two starts.
The Captains will counter with 22-year-old right-hander Tanner Burns (1-2, 3.04 ERA). He has given up one earned run in his last 11 innings.