Fort Wayne, Indiana
Despite a strong start from Michel Baez, the TinCaps fell to the Great Lakes Loons, 4-2 in 10 innings.
Baez pitched seven strong innings, allowing only one run on four hits while striking out five, with no walks. In addition, Baez varied his pitch selection throughout the night, often going to a first-pitch curve with success.
The Loons’ only run off Baez came in the top of the third. First baseman Nick Yarnall led off with a double. After recording two outs, Baez faced Gavin Lux. Lux hit a slow roller to the left side of the infield and beat the throw to score Yarnall, giving the Loons a 1-0 lead. The TinCaps evened the game in the bottom of the inning when A. J. Kennedy launched a first-pitch home run over the fence in left field, his second of the season.
The TinCaps moved ahead in the bottom of the sixth, when Jack Suwinski led off with a single, his second of the game. Suwinski was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice. With one out, Hudson Potts again provided an offensive spark, slapping a double to deep right-center field that brought Nate Easley around from first base.
With a 2-1 lead and Baez on the mound, the TinCaps appeared to be heading toward victory, but the game slipped away in the later innings. Reliever Andres Munoz entered the game in the eighth inning and walked Yarnall, the first batter he faced. Left-fielder Saige Jenco then tagged Munoz for a double that put runners on second and third with no outs. Facing the next batter, Munoz threw a wild pitch that allowed Yarnall to score and tied the game at 2-2.
The TinCaps had an excellent opportunity to go for the knockout punch in the bottom of the eighth. Suwinski doubled to start the inning, and Easley followed with a bloop single to short center. Potts had a strong appearance at the plate, fighting off two foul balls with a 3-2 count before drawing a walk to load the bases. The TinCaps could not convert, however, as clean-up hitter Kyle Overstreet grounded to third, resulting in a force out at home, only to be followed by Marcus Greene, Jr., who hit into a 6-4-3 double play.
While both teams had baserunners in the ninth, no runs were scored, pushing the game into extra innings. Facing TinCaps’ right-handed reliever Jose Galindo, Jenco hit his second double in a row to lead off the inning. After forcing a pop-up and striking out Lux, Loons batters had three consecutive hits, all between third and short, that brought in two runs.
In the tenth, the TinCaps again started strong, with another double from Suwinski and a walk to Easley. Even with the tying run at the plate and no outs, the TinCaps were unable to score, and lost 4-2.
Suwinski led the offense, going 4-for-5 with two doubles and two singles. Easley and Potts both reached base twice, but the remainder of the line-up struggled. Batters four through nine went a combined 2-for-23. Suwinski also had a good night in right field. He recorded five outs, including two difficult catches, one of which saved a run.
The TinCaps play their last regular season home game Friday night. Pedro Avila is expected to start.
Ken A. Bugajski lives and works in Fort Wayne, Indiana. An English professor by trade, he spends many summer nights with his wife and daughter at Parkview Field, home of the TinCaps.