The Journal Gazette
Thursday, July 08, 2021 10:30 pm

TinCaps beat Lake County, 5-4, snap losing streak

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Lake County Captains at Parkview Field tonight behind a good start from Ethan Elliott and an outstanding performance from Tirso Ornelas at the plate.

How it Happened

Sometimes, to break a losing streak, a team needs a little luck. Fort Wayne got that in the seventh inning tonight. The game was deadlocked at 4 entering the bottom of the seventh and the TinCaps got a rally started the same way they've put runners on so often in recent weeks: with a walk. It was Chris Givin that drew the free pass, his fifth walk in three games with Fort Wayne since coming down from Double-A San Antonio. Ornelas followed and swung at the first pitch, grounding a single through the right side to put two on.

With two on and nobody out, however, Justin Lopez struck out and when Seamus Curran hit a tailor-made double play ball to short, it looked as though the TinCaps would be frustrated again. Instead, after the force at second, second baseman Raynel Delgado pulled his throw far up the first-base line, giving Givin a chance to sprint all the way around from second with the eventual winning run.

Austin Smith pitched a scoreless eighth for Fort Wayne and Jose Geraldo made the slim lead stand up in the ninth despite walking a hitter and giving up a single.

With TinCaps ace Elliott on the mound, the Captains struck first. A Brayan Rocchio single and a Bryan Lavastida double brought in the game's initial tally, putting Lake County ahead 1-0 before the TinCaps came to bat. 

But the Lake County lead did not last long. After the first two TinCaps hitters were retired in the bottom of the first, right-fielder Ornelas worked a full count and then ripped a towering home run to right-center. After a league-leading 19 doubles without a homer to start the season, the long ball was Ornelas's first of 2021.

After giving up the early run, Elliott settled in and bounced back from his worst start of the season – he gave up six runs (five earned) in 4 1/3 innings July 2 against Great Lakes – with six strong innings during which he gave up only two runs on five hits and struck out four. His low-80s slider was particularly effective and his fastball command – his calling card early in the season – was as good as its been in a while. Elliott also had help from a couple of terrific defensive plays. In the fourth, Ornelas made a spectacular running catch, ranging deep in the gap in right-center to save extra bases before tumbling to the ground. An inning later, Fort Wayne's defense erased a single when Justin Lopez made a nifty pick of a side-spinning one-hopper and started a 6-4-3 double play that ended in the inning.

The TinCaps took the lead twice in the middle innings, going in front 2-1 in the third when Reinaldo Ilarraza doubled and Jonny Homza followed with a single, giving Givin the opportunity to drive in a run with a grounder to short.

After Lake County tied the game in the fourth, Fort Wayne struck again in the sixth, pushing across two runs after Kelvin Alarcon singled and Grant Little doubled to open the inning. Alarcon scored on a wild pitch and Little came in on a sacrifice fly to deep center from Ilarraza. For the third straight time, however, the team that fell behind tied the game its next time up. With Elliott out of the game in the top of the seventh, the Captains got to right-hander Sam Keating for a pair of runs. Keating struggled to command his pitches, hitting a pair of batters and giving up a ringing RBI double to Quentin Holmes. A sacrifice fly from TinCaps killer Will Brennan (his fourth RBI in the series) knotted the score at 4.

Player of the Game: Tirso Ornelas

Ornelas had one of his best offensive games of the season, going 3 for 3 with the home run and a walk. The long ball jumped off his bat at 103 mph and traveled 398 feet to right-center, his first home run since April 13, 2019. It was his first three-hit game of the season since June 13 and his third multi-hit game in his last six contests. He also made the great catch in right field and fittingly made the catch for the game's final out.

Extra Innings

The TinCaps came into the game in last place in the High-A Central East Division, nine games out of a playoff spot. ... Fort Wayne has given up at least one run in the first inning in six of the nine games on this homestand. ... Fort Wayne's Little returned to the lineup for the first time since June 26. He went 2 for 4 with two doubles. Before his two extra-base hits tonight, he had just three all season in 100 plate appearances. Little had been dealing with bruised ribs after getting by a pitch during Fort Wayne's series in South Bend. He turned 24 today. ... Ilarraza went 1 for 2 with a double, a run scored, a walk, a stolen base (his 17th, 10th in the league) and an RBI. ... Elliott's performance was his first quality start since June 15. He came into the game fourth in the league in ERA at 2.94 and his four strikeouts give him 71, second in High-A Central. ... The TinCaps walked four times in the game. They have drawn 90 free passes in the last 15 games, an average six per contest. ... Geraldo earned his fourth save of the season. 

What's Next?

These teams will meet again Friday for the fourth matchup in this six-game series at Parkview Field. First pitch will be at 7:05 p.m. The TinCaps will send 24-year-old right-hander Matt Waldron (2-3, 3.77 ERA) to the mound. Waldron struggled in two starts June 22 and 27, but rebounded with seven innings of five-hit ball with a season-high eight strikeouts and three runs given up (two earned) his last time out. The Captains will counter with 22-year-old right-hander Tanner Burns (2-4, 3.48 ERA). Burns pitched five shutout innings and gave up only one hit against Fort Wayne on June 11.

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