Fort Wayne, Indiana
In the final home game of the regular season, the TinCaps staged a late-inning rally to beat the Great Lakes Loons 5-2.
After being shut out for seven innings, the TinCaps bats erupted for a five-run eighth inning that included back-to-back home runs.
The inning started with Loons’ reliever Evy Ruibal giving up a walk to the number-two batter, Nate Easley. Hudson Potts then scorched a liner to the right side of the field, and Easley could not get out of its way. The ball bounced off Easley, who appeared uninjured, and rolled to Loons’ second baseman, Gavin Lux. Because no Loons player had touched the ball, Easley was out; however, Potts outran Lux’s throw for an unusual single.
Ruibal walked Kyle Overstreet, throwing two wild pitches during the at-bat that allowed Potts to advance to third. G. K. Young then punched a grounder to right-center field to score Potts and to cut the lead to 2-1. After the Loons made a pitching change to James Carter, Gabriel Arias struck out, bring Buddy Reed to the plate. Reed went down 0-2 before taking a ball. He then fouled off four consecutive pitches before launching a slider high and deep. Despite the wind blowing in, the ball carried far enough and stayed just inside the right field foul pole for a three-run homer to take the lead and bring the hometown crowd to their feet.
With the bases cleared, Reinaldo Ilarraza stepped to the plate and again took Carter deep to right field for the final run in the 5-2 victory.
Although the eighth inning provided a thrilling comeback, TinCap bats were largely silent prior to the rally. The offense had several baserunners due to five walks from Loons’ starter Alfredo Tavarez, but the TinCaps could not capitalize, as they produced only three singles in the first seven innings. Reed was the only player in the lineup to record two hits.
TinCaps starter Pedro Avila faced a rough start, as the Loons’ only runs came in the first inning. Avila walked Lux, who then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Ilarraza muffed a routine grounder from Jaren Kendall, putting runners at the corners with one out. The Loons followed with three singles in a row to net two runs.
After the first inning, Avila settled into a groove, pitching four more innings, allowing only three hits with no walks. He recorded two 1-2-3 innings, including the fourth, when he struck out the side. In the fifth, Avila’s hot streak continued, as he struck out three of the four batters he faced.
Osvaldo Hernandez pitched three solid innings of relief, giving up no runs, hits, or walks, and recording five Ks.
The only baserunner during his time on the mound came in the bottom of the ninth. After striking out lead-off batter Connor Wong, Hernandez then struck out Cody Thomas on a wild pitch. Thomas ran to first, and a throwing error by catcher A.J. Kennedy allowed Thomas to get all the way to third. However, Hernandez snuffed out any potential comeback, retiring Tyler Adkison for the third K of the inning and then forced Jared Walker into a ground out to end the game.
The TinCaps will close out the regular season with three games against the West Michigan Whitecaps, and they will begin the playoffs next Wednesday, September 6.
6,331 fans watched the home finale, bringing the TinCaps’ 2017 paid attendance to 409,253, the second-highest regular season total since the TinCaps moved to Parkview Field in 2009.
The TinCaps wore 1970s-style jerseys that were auctioned during the course of the game, which raised $2,500 for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
Following the home finale, players saluted the fans and stayed on the field to watch the annual season-in-review video created by the TinCaps’ video production team.
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.