Sights, sounds at rainy opener

Justin Cohn of The Journal Gazette takes you behind the scenes to see what went in to the TinCaps' 2013 home opener, which was threatened by inclement weather.

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Photos by Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
TinCaps starter Joe Ross struck out eight in five innings to earn the victory in the team’s home opener.
TinCaps 4, Lake Co. 0

Opener shortened, but sweet

Ross shines on mound in Fort Wayne’s rainy 1st home game

The TinCaps’ Brian Adams, left, high-fives Maxx Tissenbaum after Adams scored in the fourth.
TinCaps second baseman Maxx Tissenbaum scoops a ground ball in the third inning.

It was cold. It was rainy. It was nasty.

But for Fort Wayne starting pitcher Joe Ross, it was a gem.

Ross, a 6-foot-3 right-hander, put together a stellar outing in his second start, striking out eight and giving up only one hit and a walk in five innings en route to a 4-0 win Thursday for the TinCaps (4-3) over Lake County.

The TinCaps’ home opener at Parkview Field was called after 5 1/2 innings because of inclement weather, with Ross earning the victory.

“The past two outings, my fastball command has gone pretty well, and the velocity is there despite the weather,” he said. “Slider and changeup, especially tonight, I thought I threw very well. … It’s just staying aggressive. Being confident in my pitches, and stuff like that is really what gets me off to a good start.”

Ross threw 76 pitches – 51 of them strikes – while getting some help from some Captains’ blunders.

Lake County (1-5) made three errors that accounted for all of the TinCaps’ runs. Soggy conditions led to miscues on a pair of ground balls in the bottom of the fourth that allowed Fort Wayne to reel off three runs.

“They only got one hit off Joe Ross,” Fort Wayne manager Jose Valentin said. “If they don’t play any defense, that’s not our fault. That’s why you’ve got to play defense, especially when you’ve got your ace on the mound.”

Catcher Dane Phillips went 2 for 3 with a double and a single, and Luis Tejada drove in two runs for the TinCaps.

Valentin was pleased with the pair, who helped put the TinCaps in position to capitalize on the Captains’ miscues.

Tejada, in particular, impressed Valentin while bouncing back from a slump at the beginning of the season.

“I’m so happy to see him get that first run of the game, bring it in,” the second-year manager said. “Hopefully, we can get him going. He’s one of the big guys in our lineup.”

But the credit all came back to Ross, who has given up only two hits in two outings.

Phillips called the TinCaps’ ace “incredible” and said Ross hit spots as well as he has seen.

Ross was quick to credit Phillips for his success.

“Me and Dane are definitely on the same page with pitch calling and things like that,” Ross said. “He calls it as I’m thinking it. … I think that’s the biggest thing.”

And the run support, earned or not, didn’t hurt.

“The runs obviously help, especially early,” Ross said. “That’s a confidence-booster for every starter.”

Fort Wayne will try to get a full game in today, with Max Fried on the mound for the TinCaps for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch.

“Hopefully tomorrow, it’s a dry one,” Valentin said. “We start at home with a winning record, so now we just need to stay like that. You’ve always got to protect your house. This is the place you want to play your best.”