Sometimes you need a little help. On Monday, the TinCaps got plenty from the visiting Dayton Dragons.
Fort Wayne scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a comedy of Dragons errors, and the TinCaps bullpen made short work of the final three innings to secure a 9-3 victory Monday night in front of an announced crowd of 2,310 at Parkview Field.
The TinCaps (3-2) went in front for good in the sixth after falling behind 3-1. They scored three times with the help of two Dragons miscues, in addition to a passed ball and misjudged fly ball that landed for a double off the bat of Agustin Ruiz. That lazy fly ball kicked-started the rally that turned the game in Fort Wayne's favor.
“That's huge because that can flip the momentum real quick, and we have to take advantage and run with it,” catcher Blake Hunt said of the error-filled sixth. “We have to kind of step on their throat at that point and not give them any chance.”
The TinCaps did exactly what Hunt prescribed over the following two innings. With two on and two out in the seventh, designated hitter Nick Gatewood lofted a long fly ball the other down the left-field line. It kept carrying in the warm spring air and eventually banged off the wall to drive in two runs and put Fort Wayne up 6-3.
In the eighth, the floodgates opened, and the TinCaps tacked on. Tucupita Marcano and Hunt each had RBI singles, and Ruiz added a sacrifice fly to make it 9-3. Speedster Xavier Edwards added his third bunt for a hit in three games at Parkview Field to help add fuel to the rally.
The TinCaps ended up tallying eight runs in the final three innings and 12 hits in all, a majority of which went the opposite way. Fort Wayne peppered the right-center gap with line drives in one of its best offensive performances of the young season.
“Just to be aggressive on the fastball, we preach to these guys if they get their pitch not to miss it,” manager Anthony Contreras said. “For the most part, they battled, they took good swings even if they were missing it sometimes, and you take those over and over again. At some point you're going to be able to find your groove and that's what happened.”
TinCaps starter Ramon Perez kept his team in the game with five innings of two-hit ball. He gave up a pair of unearned runs, while striking out eight and walking just two.
His curveball and slider were impeccable and he continued a trend of excellent starts from Fort Wayne in the first week of the season.
“His curveball was really sharp, he had it going tonight,” Hunt said. “He was able to control both sides of the plate with the fastball and any time you can do that, it gets hitters uneasy. They can't pick a lane to try to look for a pitch, so it's always solid when you can control both sides.”
Reliever Henry Henry (2-0) shut down any Dayton thoughts of a comeback with a scoreless seventh and eighth, and he picked up the win by giving up one run over three innings. He has the win in two of Fort Wayne's three victories.
Where: Parkview Field
When: 7:05 p.m.
Pitchers: Angel Acevedo (TinCaps) vs. Jared Solomon (Dragons)
TV: Xfinity 81
Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM