FORT WAYNE – After missing major opportunities throughout the game, Fort Wayne made the most of its last shot Friday with a four-run ninth inning to force extra innings against Kane County.
The magic kept right on into the 10th inning.
An outing plagued by missed opportunities in clutch situations turned into a 6-5 win for Fort Wayne after a single by Stephen Carmon scored Mallex Smith and sent the TinCaps (11-8) rushing out of the dugout to celebrate.
It’s a great win, manager Jose Valentin said. It doesn’t matter how you win. It’s better to win ugly than lose.
Ugly was a good way to describe it.
The TinCaps had runners on second and third with no outs in the second and one out in the eighth but failed to score.
Kane County (7-11), meanwhile, put the ball in play with runners in scoring position and managed three of its runs on infield grounders.
All season, Valentin has stressed the importance of putting the ball in play with runners in scoring position.
Our approach is different, Valentin said. They get tight, or they try to do too much in those situations.
We’re swinging not only too hard, but also we’re swinging at pitches out of our strike zone. You got to find a way to put that ball in play and put some pressure on the defense.
But after early slipups, Fort Wayne got it going in the ninth.
With the bases loaded with no outs, Diego Goris singled and Gabriel Quintana doubled to score three runs and put men on second and third. Two infield outs preceded a sharp single by Luis Tejada to score the tying run, but Brian Adams was out attempting to reach third on the hit, sending the game to extra innings.
Reliever Roman Madrid struck out three hitters in the 10th to give the TinCaps a chance to finish out the rally.
After a bumpy start to the inning, they did so. With two outs, Smith walked and advanced to second on a stolen base. Maxx Tissenbaum walked, as well, to bring up Carmon, who had replaced Goris as a pinch runner in the prior inning.
You try not to put too much pressure on yourself, Carmon said. I just got loose and pretended it was just the start of the game.
And that approach, after a plenty of tight at-bats from the team, ended it.