FORT WAYNE, IN
Although the Fort Wayne TinCaps fell behind the South Bend Cubs twice Thursday night, the offense battled back to win the game 3-2 in the ninth and to sweep the four-game series.
Luis Almanzar began the ninth, reaching first on an infield throwing error. For the second time in the game, Juwaun Harris laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Almanzar to second. After an intentional walk to lead-off man Xavier Edwards, Tucupita Marcano singled to right, and Almanzar slid head first, beating the throw home to win the game.
The dramatic finish built off an exciting eighth inning. In the top of the frame, TinCaps reliever Nick Kuzia entered the game, and the Cubs’ Cole Roederer sent the first pitch sailing over the wall in right field to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. The TinCaps responded in the bottom half, as Dwanya Williams-Sutton bloop singled to right, and Augustin Ruiz then smashed a grounder down the first base line and into right. Williams-Sutton came all the way around from first, crossing home plate just ahead of the throw from the outfield.
The scoring of the final two innings was balanced by the effective outings of both teams’ starting pitchers. Joey Cantillo had his fourth consecutive strong start for the TinCaps, going five innings with one run, four hits, two walks, and six strikeouts. The one run came in the fourth, when Andy Weber’s lead-off single was followed by Jonathan Sierra’s double to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. For the Cubs, starter Faustino Carrera struck out four batters over six innings and gave up only two hits. One of those hits, however, was catcher Blake Hunt’s third home run of the season, a fifth-inning bomb that cleared the fence in deep center.
Several stand out defensive plays also helped Cantillo. In the first inning, with two on and one out, first baseman Lee Solomon snagged a line drive and doubled up the runner on second to end the inning. In the second, Solomon shined again. With runners at the corners, Cantillo threw to first, and Solomon quickly caught the pick-off attempt and fired it home to catch Tyler Durna trying to steal. In the second and fourth innings, Harris in center and Ruiz in right, respectively, made difficult catches to end each inning.
The TinCaps head out to Midland, Michigan for a 4-game series against the leaders of the Easter Division, the Great Lakes Loons.
-Announced attendance was 5,677, which pushed the total for the season over 100,000.
-Henry Henry pitched the ninth for the TinCaps and got the win. Over his last seven appearances dating back to May 3, he has pitched ten innings of relief, given up 0 earned runs, and struck out 17.
-Prior to the winning run, the TinCaps struggled with scoring chances, going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
-With the victory tonight, the TinCaps have won seven of their last eight games.
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.