FORT WAYNE – Ex-Norwell star Josh VanMeter and the TinCaps bounced back quite nicely Friday.
After a tough opener a day earlier, the TinCaps (1-1) got their first win of the season, a 5-2 decision over the Great Lakes Loons in front of 2,160 fans at Parkview Field. VanMeter went 3 for 4 with two doubles, a run scored and an RBI.
On Thursday, the Loons (1-1) won the season opener 9-0 as VanMeter went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and an error. The first local position player to play for the TinCaps, VanMeter was moved up in the batting order from No. 9 to No. 2 for Friday’s game.
(Batting second is) where I am the most comfortable but that’s not my decision, VanMeter said. I just felt more relaxed as a whole. Everything that went into opening night with me being the hometown guy and all that stuff, I was a little antsy. That’s not how I normally play.
I just slowed the game down within myself, and it showed in the results.
The constant for Fort Wayne in the first two games has been its bullpen.
On Thursday, three relief pitchers shut out the Loons over the final 3 2/3 innings. Friday, three TinCaps relievers combined to give up one unearned run over the final 4 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts.
The Loons cut the lead to 5-2 and had runners at second and third with two outs in the top of the eighth, but Nick Mutz struck out Delvis Morales looking to end the threat.
TinCaps relief pitcher Matt Chabot (1-0) struck out all five batters he faced in 1 2/3 innings in the fifth and sixth to pick up the win. Chabot did it on 26 pitches, 16 for strikes.
Coming out, I actually got warmer quicker than I thought I would, Chabot said. I just tried to go to work. I just felt good coming out today.
At one point, Chabot combined with Tayron Guerrero to strike out six straight and eight of nine.
Guerrero struck out three, while Mutz finished the game and had two strikeouts.
Hitters are dealing with the same thing we are, Chabot said. It’s cold out there and throwing it inside, I wouldn’t want to be holding the bat up there. If you just make the pitches in this weather, they aren’t going to want to swing at it.
A day after striking out 16 times and getting only two hits, the TinCaps had 10 hits and scored two runs in the first inning and single runs in the third, fourth and fifth.
We got off to a good start, TinCaps manager Michael Collins said. We came out swinging the bats, and that set the tone. We didn’t dwell on (Thursday’s big loss) at all.
The TinCaps’ Dustin Peterson also went 3 for 4, getting a single, double and triple.
VanMeter doubled for the second time in the fifth and came around to score for a 5-1 TinCaps lead.
In the first inning, VanMeter and Peterson had back-to-back doubles to give the TinCaps a 1-0 lead. Peterson would score on Franchy Cordero’s RBI single for a 2-0 lead.
Ahead 2-1, the TinCaps got a run in the third with the help of the wind.
Mallex Smith got a double to right when the wind pushed his fly ball just over the head of right fielder Alex Santana.
VanMeter then followed with a wind-blown single over the head of shortstop Dillon Moyer to a 3-1 TinCaps lead.