FORT WAYNE – Fort Wayne reliever James Needy stayed up all night thinking about his first pitch.
Two runners were on and there were two outs in the second inning Sunday when the TinCaps resumed a suspended game against Bowling Green. Hot Rods’ batter Tyler Goeddel had a 1-2 count.
You come in with runners on base all the time out of the pen, said Needy, who replaced starter Matt Wisler when Saturday’s game resumed. You don’t come in with the count, but you come in with runners on base. I came in with the same approach. Attack him.
Needy threw a slider. He eventually struck out Goeddel on the way to his longest outing of the season. Needy pitched 4 1/3 innings and was the winning pitcher in Fort Wayne’s 7-2 victory in the first of two games at Parkview Field. Bowling Green won the second game 7-4.
That was a great outing for him, Fort Wayne manager Jose Valentin said of Needy. It was real good to see that, to go out there for four innings and save our bullpen for the second game.
The TinCaps had to go to the bullpen early in the second game after starter Cody Hebner lasted just 2 1/3 innings. Hebner gave up seven runs on eight hits. He walked four.
It doesn’t matter how hard you’re throwing, when you’re behind in the count and pitches are up, sooner or later you’re going to get hurt, Valentin said. And that’s what happened.
Fort Wayne fell behind 7-0 in the second game. The TinCaps (25-17, 56-56 overall) scored three runs in the sixth inning. They brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh and final inning but couldn’t complete the comeback.
The TinCaps had a much better start in the first game. Fort Wayne scored twice in the first inning on Saturday before rain forced the suspension of the game. The offense continued to click when the game continued Sunday. Fort Wayne scored three runs in the third. Lee Orr hit a home run, his first since June 11, in the fifth to make it 7-0.
I didn’t know if I got it, Orr said of his team-leading ninth homer. The wind was blowing in from left and I knew I hit it up there pretty high. I was just hoping it was going to get out. When I saw it in the seats, it was kind of a relief. It’s good to hit another one. There’s nothing better than hitting them. Hopefully I’ll keep doing it.
Needy gave up two runs on three hits. Luis De La Cruz and Daniel Cropper pitched the final three innings.
Fort Wayne used four pitchers in the second game. The Hot Rods (26-16, 64-48) scored five runs in the third inning – three coming on a disputed triple by Goeddel – to build the big lead.
With the bases loaded, Goeddel hit a ball down the third-base line. Valentin argued that the ball was foul.
Valentin wasn’t pleased with the call, but he was happy to see how his team responded late.
We kept battling and battling, he said. We just ran out of time.