FORT WAYNE – Travis Jankowski had a conversation recently with San Diego minor league hitting coordinator Sean Berry about the proper approach at the plate with the infield in.
The Fort Wayne center fielder found himself in that exact situation in the ninth inning Saturday against Wisconsin. And he came through with a game-winning single.
Jankowski knocked in Austin Hedges with a base hit to right field to give the TinCaps a 4-3 victory over the Timber Rattlers in front of 7,411 fans at Parkview Field.
I was talking with Berry the other day and he said, Dont try to do too much. Any ball thats hit hard is going to get through. If you hit it right at someone, theres nothing you can do about that, Jankowski said. He just said, Make solid contact like you can.
Jankowski did just that to cap a two-run ninth inning.
The victory also gives the TinCaps (12-10, 43-49 overall) momentum after losing six of their previous seven games.
Its nice to have a win like that, Fort Wayne manager Jose Valentin said. The guys battled the whole game. We executed today.
The TinCaps improved to 4-36 when trailing entering the ninth inning. The Timber Rattlers (11-11, 55-36) lost for just the fifth time in 47 chances when leading going into the ninth.
Wins like this can always help, Fort Wayne first baseman Lee Orr said. Its not every day you walk off. Its exciting.
Fort Wayne entered the ninth trailing 3-2.
Duanel Jones led off with a double to left field off of Kevin Shackelford. Austin Hedges followed with a single to left field. Ben McMahan bobbled the ball, but Jones stayed at third.
Orr came through with a single to center on an 0-2 pitch. Jones scored to tie the game at 3.
He threw the same pitch (a slider) three times in a row, said Orr, who was hitting .199 coming into the at-bat. I finally decided to swing at it. It felt good to get a hit in that situation. Id been struggling since coming off the DL, and before the DL. It feels good to get a hit.
Kyle Gaedele moved the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt.
Tyler Stubblefield was intentionally walked.
Jankowski then singled to right to give the TinCaps the victory.
I saw that the infield was in. I was looking for a pitch to drive. The pitcher looked like he had a pretty good slider, so I was looking fastball, Jankowski said. He threw a fastball low and in on the first pitch and I tried to do as much as I could with it. I got good wood on it and it got past the first baseman.
Note: TinCaps relief pitcher Luis De La Cruz was suspended by the Midwest League for three games after it was ruled he intentionally hit Great Lakes Angelo Songco with a pitch on June 30.