FORT WAYNE – Fort Wayne pitchers kept falling behind in the count.
And Wisconsin hitters made them pay.
As a result, the TinCaps are one loss away from having its surprising postseason run end. And the Timber Rattlers are one win away from the Midwest League title.
Nick Ramirez and Brandon Macias hit home runs for the Timber Rattlers in a 10-8 victory over the TinCaps in Game 3 of the Midwest Championship series in front of 4,939 fans Saturday at Parkview Field.
We held that team to six hits in the first two games and the reason why is because we threw strikes and kept the ball down, Fort Wayne manager Jose Valentin said. Today, we didn’t do that.
Wisconsin scored five runs in the fourth inning on the way to taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. Game 4 is at 5:05 p.m. today at Parkview Field.
We just didn’t get ahead pitching. The big thing was avoiding the big inning. And that was the difference in the game, said Fort Wayne catcher Austin Hedges, who was 2 for 5 with one RBI.
We were behind in the count all day and that put them in hitter’s counts. They got a few pitches up in the zone and drove them pretty good. That was the spark for them to get their big innings.
The Timber Rattlers hit 107 home runs in the regular season, good for second in the Midwest League.
Wisconsin hit two during the critical fourth inning.
Fort Wayne attempted a late rally. The TinCaps brought the tying run to the plate in both the eighth and ninth innings. But Fort Wayne couldn’t complete the comeback. Now the TinCaps will need to come back if they want to capture their second Midwest League crown in franchise history.
We can’t put any more pressure on us than is already on us, said second baseman Tyler Stubblefield, who was 2 for 4 with one RBI. We have to come out and play baseball, have fun. If we get too uptight, it’s going to show.
Fort Wayne gave up the lead twice on Saturday.
Garces was charged with five runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings. He suffered the loss.
Garces, the home run he gave up to Ramirez took him out of the game, Valentin said.
Macias went 3 for 4 with a walk and three runs scored.
The Timber Rattlers scored once in the seventh and three more runs in the eighth to extend the lead to 10-4.
Fort Wayne came back with two in the bottom of the eighth to make it 10-6. An RBI double by Austin Hedges in the ninth made it 10-7. Lee Orr scored to get the TinCaps within 10-8.You see the way we reacted, down six runs in the last two innings, Valentin said. My guys showed a lot of pride. We are not down. We know we are behind, but we’ve been in this situation before.
Note: Outfielder Travis Jankowski (rib) was placed on the disabled list. Infielder Connor Powers was activated from the disabled list.