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  • Having a grand time
    Less than a week ago, after getting swept at Lake County, the TinCaps seemed to lose any momentum they had been building in their pursuit of a sixth straight playoff berth.
  • TinCaps win to tighten up race
    Once the final out was recorded, John Nester got the silent treatment, one of baseball’s quirky ways of celebrating a big achievement.“I don’t think anybody likes me too much,” the TinCaps’ catcher cracked.
  • TinCaps smash their way to win
    Manager Michael Collins didn’t want his batters to think about the long ball this season.Yet this year’s TinCaps hit more than any team in Fort Wayne history.
Photos by Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Lake County’s Bo Greenwell slides into Peoria’s Logan Watkins during the Midwest League All-Star Game on Tuesday.

East stars shine bright

Hometown TinCaps help lead way to All-Star win at Parkview Field

Quad Cities’ D’Marcus Ingram is safe at second after South Bend’s Chris Owings loses control of the ball.
Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
TinCaps starter Jerry Sullivan pitches during the first inning at Parkview Field on Tuesday. Sullivan earned the victory for the East.

– Jerry Sullivan walked behind the pitching mound at Parkview Field and picked up the rosin bag as he caught a quick breather.

If the temperature, in the high 80s, wasn’t making the TinCaps’ ace and starting pitcher for the East All-Stars sweat, then the first-inning situation he found himself in surely did.

The first two West batters reached base with singles. Up next were two of the top hitters in the Midwest League: Burlington’s William Myers and Mike Trout of Cedar Rapids.

Sullivan struck out the pair and East catcher Chun Chen threw Scooter Gennett out at second on a stolen-base attempt in between to get out of the jam. East pitchers cruised from there, allowing seven hits in a 6-2 victory Tuesday in front of 6,026 fans.

“It was awesome. The home-field advantage, the crowd,” Sullivan said. “I gave up a couple of knocks early, but I felt comfortable. We got a big throw by Chen and I was able to punch (Trout) out to end the inning. It was a sigh of relief. It was good.”

The East scored three runs in the first, including a two-run home run to right-center by the game’s MVP Jerry Sands of Great Lakes, to make Sullivan the winning pitcher.

“I had faced (Peoria’s Trey McNutt) a few weeks ago and he had a pretty good slider,” Sands said. “I didn’t want to see it, so I was looking for a fastball early and I got it, and luckily I put a good swing on it. I hit that one a little better than I did some (Monday in the home run derby).”

Sands went 1 for 2 with the two-run home run. It’s the second consecutive year the East has won, and the second straight season a TinCap was the winning pitcher. Anthony Bass got the victory last year.

This was the first time Fort Wayne has hosted the game since 1994, and the contest had a home flavor.

Sullivan was one of five TinCaps to play. Fort Wayne manager Jose Flores and his staff served as the East coaches.

“The TinCaps put on an unbelievable show. From the front office to the promotion people to grounds crew. They went above and beyond everyone’s expectations and the expectations were high,” TinCap Nate Freiman said.

Freiman and Danny Payne joined teammate Sullivan as starters.

Freiman went 1 for 3 with a single as the designated hitter. Payne went 1 for 4 with a double and one run scored. He played the entire game.

“It was a blast, an unforgettable experience,” Payne said. “It was by far my favorite baseball experience.”

Second baseman Jeudy Valdez entered in the fifth. He grounded out twice. Miles Mikolas got the only batter he faced, Casey Haerther of Cedar Rapids, to ground out to short to end the sixth.

Luis Vasquez of Great Lakes was the last of 52 players who participated. He allowed one run in the ninth.

Most of the offensive action occurred in the first two innings. Lake County’s Bo Greenwell doubled in a run and then scored on Sands’ homer in the three-run first. Dayton’s Henry Rodriguez drove in two runs for the East in the second with a double, making it 5-0.

The East pitching did the rest, allowing one hit from the second to the seventh.

“The vibe in the locker room, the competitiveness and the stats spoke for themselves,” Sullivan said. “You get a team of all-stars together, and you’ll get an all-star performance.”