Fort Wayne, Indiana
In a game that featured 36 total strikeouts, the TinCaps fell to the last-place Burlington Bees following a two-run home run in the top of the twelfth.
After the TinCaps failed to convert opportunities in the tenth and eleventh innings, Fred Schlichtholz took the mound as the TinCaps’ fourth pitcher of the night. By Midwest League rule, teams begin each extra inning with a runner on second base, and Schlichtholz faced lead-off batter Harrison Wenson. Wenson cranked a line drive homer to left field that brought in the two runs that make up the margin of victory.
In both the tenth and eleventh innings, the TinCaps had the potential winning run on third base but could not bring him across the plate.
In the tenth, manager Anthony Contreras appeared to call a suicide squeeze, as Jalen Washington broke from third as Bees pitcher Austin Krzeminski began his windup. With the pitch in the dirt, however, batter Jeisson Rosario could not get the ball into play, and Washington was easily tagged out at home. The eleventh presented an even better opportunity, as the Caps had the bases loaded with no outs. After a fielder’s choice force at home, Bees reliever Zack Kelly struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
The TinCaps did provide a dramatic comeback to tie in the bottom of the ninth, with Gabriel Arias getting on base with a one-out single. After a Juan Fernandez sacrifice bunt, Contreras brought in Robbie Podorsky as a pinch runner. The move paid off, as Luis Almanzar poked a single to right field, and Podorsky scored, sliding head first into home to tie the game.
Prior to the ninth and extra innings, the TinCaps’ offense had been mainly silent, with fourteen K’s spread over the first eight innings. During the same time frame, the TinCaps produced only five hits, and when Podorsky subbed in for Arias in the ninth, it was only the second time in the game the TinCaps had a runner in scoring position. The lone offensive bright spot was second baseman Esteury Ruiz, who had half of the team’s hits, going 4-for-5 with three base hits and a first inning solo home run.
Prior to the twelfth inning, the TinCaps pitchers provided an equal challenge to Bees hitters. Although the trio of Tom Cosgrove, Austin Smith, and Travis Radke gave up more hits—eight—they also produced more strikeouts, with seventeen over eleven innings.
Cosgrove was effective in his six-inning start, tallying eight Ks while giving up four hits and two runs, the first of which resulted from a questionable call. With Torii Hunter on first, Cosgrove went to first base just as Hunter broke for second, setting up a potential rundown. Washington threw from first, and although the throw beat the runner by a good margin, umpire Taylor Payne ruled that Hunter eluded the tag and reached second safely. One batter later, Kevin Williams smacked a double to right field to give the Bees a 1-0 lead. Cosgrove’s only mistake came in the sixth inning, when he gave up a rainbow homer to Orlando Martinez.
Smith and Radke were both effective in relief. Over two innings, Smith gave up two hits while striking out five. Radke pitched for three innings—longer than usual for the closer—but still excelled, giving up only two hits and striking out the side in the eleventh, his final inning of work.
The TinCaps face the Bees in the series finale Friday night.
Announced attendance was 8,647
Ruiz’s home run is his ninth on the season, which leads the team
Beyond Ruiz, only Luis Almanzar had a multiple hit game, going 2-for-4 with two singles and a walk
Tirso Ornelas and Washington both had particularly difficult nights at the plate, as each struck out three times
Following a four-game winning streak at the start of July, the TinCaps have lost ten of their last twelve
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.