Fort Wayne, Indiana
On a warm and humid night in Fort Wayne, the Bowling Green Hot Rods peppered the TinCaps with 14 hits, eventually overtaking the home team in the top of the ninth for a 7-5 victory.
TinCaps’ reliever Jared Carkuff ran into trouble at the start of the final inning, giving up a lead-off single followed by a walk. TinCaps’ manager Anthony Contreras brought in the team-leader in saves, Travis Radke, but a single to the first batter he faced drove in a run to tie the game at five all. With runners on second and third, clean-up batter Ronaldo Hernandez grounded to third, but having no play at home, Luis Almanzar threw to first for the put out as a run scored. Devin Davis then singled to right field for the last run in the 7-5 win.
Until the final inning, the TinCaps stayed even with or led the Hot Rods, jumping out to an early lead in the first, when Esteury Ruiz began the half-inning by drawing a walk and then stealing second base.
After a flyout, Tirso Ornelas drew another walk to put runners at first and second. Ruiz and Ornelas combined for a double steal, and a throwing error by Hot Rods’ catcher Hernandez allowed Ruiz to reach home. In the bottom of the second, Justin Lopez launched a lead-off rainbow to right field for a four-bagger that gave the TinCaps a 2-0 lead.
After the Hot Rods knocked in two runs off starter Aaron Leasher to tie the game in the top of the third, the TinCaps reestablished their two-run lead in the bottom of the fifth. Robbie Podorsky singled to begin the inning, and Ruiz then beat out a bunt to put runners on first and second. Gabriel Arias followed with a successful sacrifice bunt to move them over, and Ornelas doubled to left field, bringing in both runners and giving the TinCaps a 4-2 lead.
The Hot Rods responded in the sixth with three consecutive hits that, along with a Will Stillman wild pitch, again tied the game. In the bottom of the eighth, the TinCaps’ capitalized on an error to regain the lead. With two outs, Carlos Belen sent a check-swing grounder back to the mound, but reliever Phoenix Sanders mishandled it, allowing Belen to reach first safely.
Justin Lopez came through with another clutch at-bat, sending a drive into deep left field, bringing Belen all the way around for a 5-4 lead. For the second time in four games, however, the bullpen could not preserve the lead in the ninth.
The TinCaps face the division-leading Hot Rods again Wednesday night. Nick Margevicius is expected to start.
Announced attendance was 3,856.
Ruiz and Lopez both had multiple hit games, each going 2-for-3 plus a walk.
Hot Rods shortstop Taylor Walls was 4-for-5, falling short of the cycle after a double, single, and triple in his first three at bats.
TinCaps starter Leasher averaged one K per inning while giving up four runs on seven hits in five innings of work.
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.