SOUTH BEND – The magic fizzled Monday.
Fort Wayne, which was playing some of its best baseball at just the right time, couldn't do enough in Game 3 of the Midwest League Eastern Division Championship Series.
The TinCaps' season ended with a 9-5 loss to South Bend at Four Winds Field.
Fort Wayne starter Joe Ross, the hero of Game 1 during the start of his team's playoff run, gave up eight hits and five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. He was pulled after a three-run home run from third baseman Brandon Drury and a single compounded by a throwing error from Ross.
As Ruben Mejia came in from the pen, Ross walked away from the mound, his glove off, his eyes on the turf.
The walk back to the dugout always seems longer after outings like this, but particularly in a game like Monday's, with so much at stake and everything out of your hands.
There was nothing more Ross could do.
He trudged down the steps and sat down on the wooden bench, away from his teammates.
He stared at the concrete beneath him, knowing all too well that this game might be over and the TinCaps season might be, too.
Fort Wayne battled back with four runs in the next two innings, but couldn't do enough.
The TinCaps and Silver Hawks faced off in 21 games during the 2013 season, and Fort Wayne was 6-14 against South Bend entering Monday. But all of those wins came in the second half of the season, and the TinCaps were 4-1 in their past five games against the Silver Hawks.
The Eastern finals, the most important matchup, went to South Bend.
Drury, whose three-run blast opened up the game for South Bend, had four RBI in the win and went 2 for 4. Right fielder Socrates Brito had a big game for the Silver Hawks, as well, with two runs, three RBI and four hits in five at-bats.
The TinCaps didn't have any standout performances, but chased starter Aaron Blair after 5 2/3 innings thanks to four hits in the sixth off the No. 36 pick in the 2013 MLB draft. Blair had six strikeouts, and his relief staff did enough to get the Silver Hawks past the streaky TinCaps.
South Bend tacked on three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth off a three-run triple by Brito.