FORT WAYNE – The fight for the Midwest League title has become a best-of-three series.
Fort Wayne and Wisconsin meet in Game 3 of the Midwest League championship series at 7:05 p.m. today at Parkview Field. The series is tied at 1 after the teams split games at Fox Cities Stadium.
The remainder of the series is at Parkview Field – Game 4 is 5:05 p.m. Sunday; Game 5, if necessary, is 7:05 p.m. Monday.
Hopefully our pitching keeps doing the job, Fort Wayne manager Jose Valentin said after the TinCaps 5-1 victory in Game 2 on Thursday.
Hopefully those guys, the starters, go at least five innings and keep the game close. Our bullpen has been great so far.
Pitching has been the story of the series. Fort Wayne starter Colin Rea and relievers Johnny Barbato and Matt Stites combined for a two-hitter in the Game 2 win. Fort Wayne has limited Wisconsin to six hits in the two games.
The Timber Rattlers have scored four runs. Two of the four scored on wild pitches. Wisconsin defeated Fort Wayne 3-2 in 10 innings in Game 1, scoring the game-winning run on a wild pitch.
Frank Garces is the scheduled starter today for Fort Wayne. He went 9-6 with a 2.81 ERA in the regular season. Garces has made one start in the postseason, going six innings of Game 1 of the Eastern Division championship series against Lake County. Garces gave up two runs on four hits and struck out six but did not factor in the decision.
David Goforth will pitch for Wisconsin. He had a 10-8 record in the regular season. Goforth pitched a complete-game four-hit shutout of Game 3 of the Timber Rattlers Western Division opening-round series against Burlington.
Fort Wayne will have to shuffle its lineup after losing leadoff hitter Travis Jankowski to a rib injury. The outfielder was hit by a pitch in the first inning of Game 2. He left the game after the half inning and will be out the rest of the series, according to Valentin. Jankowski hit .282 during the regular season. He had 17 stolen bases. He hit .259 in the playoffs.
Kyle Gaedele will likely shift from left to center field, with Mike Gallic or Jeremy Baltz as options in left field.
Its a big blow, Valentin said. He put us in this situation. One of the reasons we are in the finals is because he was great. Were going to miss him, but whoever comes in is going to have to step up. This game of baseball is about 25 guys, its not about one guy. Weve got plenty of guys who can do the job.
Note: Valentin and Stites were honored by Baseball America, which released its All-Star teams for each minor league classification Friday. Stites was selected as the Low-A All-Star relief pitcher. Valentin was named the Low-A Manager of the Year. The list is compiled from all rosters in the Midwest League and South Atlantic League.