TinCaps relievers gave up no runs in 131/3 innings in the first three games of the TinCaps' series against Bowling Green. In the series finale Tuesday, they gave up six.
The TinCaps led into the late innings, but an errant throw from right-hander Dylan Coleman on a double-play chance opened the floodgates for the Hot Rods and Bowling Green roared back to win 6-5 at Parkview Field despite another furious TinCaps ninth-inning rally in front of an announced crowd of 3,144.
The teams split the four-game series.
The TinCaps (57-68, 24-33 second half) trailed 6-2 into the ninth but turned in a furious comeback for the second consecutive night.
Fort Wayne plated three runs and had the tying run on second when Chris Givin struck out swinging to end the game.
Michael Curry, who went 2 for 3 with two walks, including one in the ninth, and extended his season-long hitting streak to eight games, said the TinCaps have confidence they can come back from any deficit.
“Absolutely,” said Curry, who scored on a wild pitch in the ninth. “We've done it before. When the ball starts rolling like that, people start standing up, getting on the fence and it gets really interesting.”
The TinCaps entered the seventh inning up 1-0. Coleman had pitched a 1-2-3 sixth, but put runners on the corners with one out in the seventh.
He then made a good pitch against right-fielder Grant Witherspoon, who chopped back to the mound. Coleman turned to try to start an inning-ending double play, but there was momentary confusion over who was covering second and it threw Coleman off just enough that the throw was high and into center field, bringing in the first run.
That play was the turning point in the game.
The next two hitters for Bowling Green (73-54, 34-23) added RBI singles and Coleman's night was done. His replacement, Henry Henry, gave up three more singles before retiring the side.
By the end of the inning, the Hot Rods had sent 10 hitters to the plate and scored six runs, breaking the game open.
“To see (Bowling Green) tie the game and then momentum goes on their side and it snowballs,” manager Anthony Contreras said of the importance of the throwing error. “This game is all about momentum. Whoever has it, it can switch within a pitch, it can switch within a play. ... We've just got to be able to play sound defense.”
The seventh-inning meltdown wasted another great start from Omar Cruz, who has been one of the team's hottest pitchers in the last month. The 20-year-old left-hander tossed five shutout innings, striking out six and walking none while giving up just three hits. He got a no-decision, but over his last four starts he has given up one earned run in 212/3 innings, with 22 strikeouts and four walks.
“Really good,” Contreras said of Cruz's start. “Getting five innings out of him, the fastball command looked really good. ... He attacks guys. It's nice to see a young pitcher like that go after big hitters and older hitters like that and not shy away. He's going to be a fun one to watch down the road.”