The TinCaps dropped their seventh straight game despite a furious comeback in the late innings, falling 7-6 to the Lake County Captains at Parkview Field tonight and dropping a season-high nine games below .500.
How it Happened
The TinCaps trailed by as many as seven in the early innings, but rallied late and sent the tying run to the plate with one out after back-to-back walks in the eighth inning. Unfortunately for Fort Wayne, Kelvin Alarcon and Jawuan Harris struck out to end the threat.
Fort Wayne got it going again in the ninth, however. Jonny Homza got the uprising going with an eight-pitch at bat that ended in a slow bouncer to third that Victor Nova couldn't handle, giving Homza a chance to reach. Chris Givin followed with a bloop single off the very end of his bat that barely reached the outfield grass, putting two on. That brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Agustin Ruiz and he delivered, driving a single through the right side to bring in Homza from second and bringing Tirso Ornelas to the plate.
Ornelas didn't have to do anything to advance the runners into scoring position. Lake County did that on its own, unleashing a wild pitch that left the tying run on second base. Ornelas was intentionally walked, but Justin Lopez flew out deep to left, bringing in another run, but leaving the game on Seamus Curran's shoulders with two on and two out. Curran whiffed at a slider down and in to end the game and the comeback fell 180 feet short.
The game began with thick, dark clouds hanging over Parkview Field and the game started with a dark moment for the TinCaps, as well. On the very first pitch of the game, Captains centerfielder Will Brennan teed off on a get-me-over fastball from Bencomo and launched it 422 feet to straightaway right field for a home run, putting the Captains ahead 1-0 before the crowd had even settled in.
Two pitches later, No. 2 hitter Jose Tena ripped a double into the left-center gap. He came around to score later in the inning on a Joe Naranjo sacrifice fly to right. Agustin Ruiz made a terrific throw, trying to cut Tena down at the plate, but Fort Wayne catcher Jonny Homza was unable to hold on to the ball as he applied the tag and Fort Wayne was down two runs before it came to bat.
The situation went from bad to worse for Bencomo in the second inning. He started the frame by walking the first three hitters he saw, loading the bases with nobody out. He recovered with a strikeout of No. 9 hitter Quentin Holmes, but then Brennan struck out, grounding a single just the outstretched glove of Givin at second to bring in two more runs. A sacrifice fly and an RBI single followed before Bencomo could retire the side and after two innings, the Captains were in front 6-0.
That was enough offense for Lake County, which held on down the stretch. The TinCaps didn't have a hit in the first three innings, but newly-arrived infielder Givin broke up the no-hitter with a sharp single to left to open the fourth. Later in the inning, Seamus Curran hit a sizzling ground ball through the left side for a single, driving in Givin from second and bringing the TinCaps within 7-1.
The next six TinCaps were retired in order following Curran's hit, but with two outs in the sixth, Fort Wayne drew closer. Ornelas kept the inning going, lacing a single the opposite way to get on in front of Justin Lopez. The red-hot Lopez then smoked a blistering line drive to right. It cleared the 15-foot high wall in that area of the ballpark by a just a few feet, but the infielder absolutely earned his sixth home run: the ball jumped off his bat at 105 mph and brought Fort Wayne within four runs.
That was one of the few bright spots for Fort Wayne. Another was the performance of piggyback starter Erik Sabrowski, who continued his string of excellent outings with the TinCaps. The tall left-hander gave up a double high off the wall in left-center on the third pitch he threw, but that was the only hard-hit ball against him in four innings of work. Sabrowski once again mixed a low-90s fastball with a hammer of a curveball that was as slow as 72 mph on one occasion.
A soft single and a sacrifice fly after the double brought in Lake County's seventh run, but after that Sabrowski was lights out. Of the final 13 hitters he faced, 11 were retired (five by strikeout), one walked and one reached on an error. The southpaw effortlessly pitched around a dropped fly ball by Ruiz in the fifth, recovering to strike out the dangerous Victor Nova with a high fastball at 90 mph to erase the miscue. Sabrowski never seemed rattled, despite the difficult start to his outing.
The TinCaps crept a step closer in the seventh thanks to the raw speed of Harris. The former Rutgers football player, who has been struggling mightily at the plate, dropped a perfect bunt down the third-base line. Captains pitcher Jared Janczak tried an ill-advised throw to first that would not have gotten the out had it been on line. Instead, it was wild and up the right-field line and Harris reached second. The speedster then stole third without a throw and raced home when Janczak unleashed a wild pitch that actually went behind Givin. The daring baserunning brought Fort Wayne within 7-4 after seven innings.
Player of the Game: Will Brennan
The Lake County leadoff hitter has been a terror in this series. He went 2 for 3 tonight with his third home run of the season, three RBI, two runs scored and a pair of walks. In the last two games, he is 6 for 9 with five runs scored, a double and the homer.
The game started on time despite the tarp being on the field barely half an hour before the game. ... Fort Wayne is 4-10 against Lake County this season. ... Bencomo made his first start of the season. Sabrowski had been scheduled to start, but the TinCaps changed him to the piggyback starter about an hour before the game, likely in case of a rain delay. ... The run the Captains scored in the third broke a string of 8 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings for Sabrowski. He pitched four innings and struck out five. ... In his first 20 innings this season, Bencomo struck out 29, walked six and had a 1.80 ERA. In his last 7 2/3 innings, he has struck out seven and walked seven, posting a 10.95 ERA. ... Lopez's home run was his third since June 24. He has three doubles, two homers and six RBI in July. ... Andelson Arias hit ninth and was the TinCaps designated hitter, making his High-A Central debut. He had never played a game above rookie ball previously. He went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. ... Fort Wayne walked six times. The TinCaps have drawn 86 free passes in the last 14 games, an average of 6.14 per contest (80). ... Curran went 2 for 4 with a walk and an RBI; Givin was 2 for 3 with two walks and two runs scored. He has been on base six times in two games in Fort Wayne.
These teams will meet again Thursday for the third matchup in a six-game series at Parkview Field. First pitch will be at 7:05 p.m. The TinCaps will send ace left-hander Ethan Elliott (2-1, 2.94 ERA) to the mound. Elliott is fifth in High-A Central in ERA at 2.94 and tied for second in strikeouts with 67, six behind league-leader Zach McCambley. The Captains will counter with 24-year-old right-hander Kevin Coulter (4-3, 6.97 ERA). Coulter will be making only his fourth start against eight relief appearances. He's coming off his best appearance of the season: five shutout innings against South Bend.