The TinCaps had found no luck at the plate throughout most of the second half.
But in a 7-4 win against Great Lakes on Saturday at Parkview Field, Fort Wayne had luck to spare.
The TinCaps (48-37) scored four unearned runs, taking advantage of four errors by the Loons (39-48).
The Loons entered the game 12-4 to lead the Midwest League’s Eastern Division in the second half. The Tin Caps improved to 5-11 in the second half.
It’s a good sign, TinCaps manager Jose Valentin said. Finally, we got the hits when we needed them in clutch situations, especially with two outs.
A day after Valentin had to use five relievers in a 16-10 win over South Bend, Fort Wayne starter Bryan Rodriguez went six innings for the TinCaps. The right-hander gave up six hits and three earned runs while striking out four.
The TinCaps needed that steady outing to balance out a back-and-forth game in front of 6,510 fans.
He went in there and battled, made pitches when he had to, Valentin said. It’s about keeping the game close and giving your offense chances to get some runs.
Fort Wayne took advantage of a pair of early errors to claim a 2-0 advantage in the bottom of the second inning, but a two-run double by Great Lakes third baseman Brandon Dixon tied the game in the top of the fourth.
Shortstop Tyler Stubblefield hit a home run to left field in the bottom of the fourth to give Fort Wayne another lead.
But that one didn’t last long, either – a single by Loons catcher Jose Capellan scored one in the top of the fifth to tie it again.
Capellan came through again in the top of the seventh with his second RBI, good for the Loons’ first lead of the game.
That lead was short-lived.
TinCaps first baseman Diego Goris reached in the seventh on the Loons’ fourth error, and catcher Dane Phillips brought him across with a game-tying double.
That’s two consecutive nights where we’ve played great team baseball, said Stubblefield, whose team had 20 hits Friday. We’ve been struggling a little bit offensively and defensively.
A bloop single to shallow right field by Stubblefield two batters later put Fort Wayne ahead again, and a pair of insurance runs with two outs in the bottom of the eighth made it 7-4.
The TinCaps had 13 hits in the contest. But the biggest plays, Valentin said, were on defense – the same plays Great Lakes couldn’t make.
Reliever Matthew Chabot got the win, and closer Roman Madrid picked up the save for Fort Wayne, which put together consecutive victories for the first time since June 27-29.
Today was a complete, great game overall, Valentin said. Hopefully, that’s a good beginning.