FORT WAYNE – Bryan Verbitsky was in the situation pitchers dread most.
A runner on third base, no outs, in a close game.
In his first appearance as a TinCap, the 21-year-old New York native handled Monday's fifth-inning jam as if he were Andy Pettitte or Justin Verlander.
Justin Chigbogu doubled leading off and advanced to third on the bobble by TinCaps center fielder Mallex Smith.
Verbitsky not only retired the next three hitters, he struck them all out looking.
"I used to be a reliever in college," said Verbitsky, who saved 11 games at Hofstra. "That comes with the territory. You get used to pitching out of jams. If the team needs to put up a zero, you just bear down and make pitches."
At the time, the TinCaps held a 3-2 lead.
The big pitch was a 3-2 fastball to Loons leadoff hitter Malcolm Holland for the second out.
"He's a very good hitter," Verbitsky said. "They have a very good lineup. I had to attack at that point."
Great Lakes rallied after the TinCaps replaced Verbitsky in the sixth and went on to a 7-3 victory. He gave up two runs on five hits and struck out six, leaving manager Michael Collins impressed.
Verbitsky was the first pitcher taken by the Padres in last summer's amateur draft.
"Obviously, very talented – we knew that," Collins said. "I thought he did really well. His last inning, striking out the side shows a lot of (guts). Game's on the line, big moment. Punches three guys out. Says a lot about his makeup."
In light of recent controversies regarding major leaguers' use of pine tar to grip the baseball in blustery weather, Verbitsky handled the wind chill just fine.
"I'm from the northeast, so I'm used to this," Verbitsky said. "It doesn't have any effect (on me) at all."
Peterson's day off
Collins had been looking for three or four days to give third baseman Dustin Peterson a game off to rest. Peterson, the touted prospect, kept making it a hard task.
"Each day he kept coming up with a good hit, a good play, something," Collins said. "I'm going, sheesh, 'I'm looking at it, and I don't want to leave him out.' Tonight I got to the point where – coming off seven straight – I gave him a day to get fresh legs."
Bauers on board
Jake Bauers, the youngest TinCap, got his first hit with the club in the second inning on a two-run triple.
"Fastball in, and I was ready," Bauers said. "I drove it."
He singled and stole a base in the fourth. Collins gave the steal sign in a 3-1 count.
"It was a good time to run," Bauers said. "I got a good jump."
He arrived four days ago from extended spring training to replace Luis Tejada, who was promoted to Double-A San Antonio.
Collins plans to use him pretty much daily at first.
"He had some good quality at-bats," Collins said. "He's quite solid over there. He knows what he's doing."