FORT WAYNE – The largest crowd in Parkview Field’s history greeted the TinCaps in Thursday’s season opener.
But Lake County spoiled the party, rallying for a 4-3 victory.
Luigi Rodriguez’s two-out triple in the ninth inning knocked in pinch-runner Todd Hankins with the go-ahead run, sending the record crowd of 8,577 fans home disappointed.
It’s always tough when you lose, TinCaps manager Jose Valentin said. Today was a great game. We made a couple of mistakes late in the game, and we couldn’t hold the lead late in the game.
A lot of guys were probably a little too anxious and tried to do a little too much, but I’ve got a great feeling for my team.
Fort Wayne squandered a great start from pitcher Frank Garces. The lefty gave up one unearned run and two hits in six innings. He struck out nine and walked two.
He’s fun to watch, Valentin said. He knows how to pitch. He always battles and tries to do his best. He made adjustments and made pitches when he needed.
Unfortunately, we didn’t help him too much defense-wise.
Fort Wayne made four errors, and TinCaps catcher Austin Hedges was charged with two passed balls.
I obviously had a little anxiety myself, Hedges said. I just have to slow the game down a little. It’s just one of those games.
Fort Wayne scored twice in the third inning.
Hedges walked with one out. Lake County starter Felix Sterling then hit Alberth Martinez with a pitch.
Jace Peterson then sliced a double down the left-field line. Hedges and Martinez scored to give the TinCaps a 2-1 lead.
I got a pitch over the plate. He left it a little bit too much and I put a good swing on it, said Peterson, who went 2 for 3 with two RBI and one walk.
Garces took over from there. Displaying strong off-speed pitches, he retired 10 consecutive batters at one point. He left with the TinCaps leading 2-1.
Fort Wayne tacked on a third run in the seventh inning. Hedges knocked in Travis Whitmore with a line-drive single to left field.
Lake County tied the game with two runs in the eighth. Rodriguez reached on a bunt single, and LeVon Washington followed by laying down a bunt. Hedges threw wide of first, and Rodriguez came around to score with Washington ending up on third. He later scored on a passed ball.
(Hedges is) a better defensive catcher than he showed today, Valentin said. He’s going to be up there almost every day. He’s my No. 1 catcher. I’m going to stick with him because I know he can be better than that.
Jerrud Sabourin started the rally in the ninth, reaching on a fielding error by Peterson. Rodriguez followed with the triple to complete the comeback.
They just have to take it easy, get better and better and think about the next game, Valentin said.