A matchup of the worst teams in the Midwest League has produced surprisingly good baseball through two of the three games.
After the TinCaps evened the series with a 3-2 win over Beloit on Thursday, 16 of 18 innings have ended with no more than a run separating the two struggling clubs. For the most part, the fundamentals have been strong – a few errors here and there, but some excellent pitching and defense, as well.
Snappers manager Rick Magnante said he knew little about Fort Wayne coming in because his team resides in the Western Division. This is their only regular-season meeting with the TinCaps.
“We went out there and tried to play good baseball,” Magnante said. “We tried to make our moves and assessments as we play the game. When you only face a team three times during the year, it’s difficult. There’s not a lot of book you can get on them.”
Herschel 'Boog' Powell, MVP of the Midwest League All-Star Game, was promoted on June 23, depriving Beloit of a .355 hitter. But Magnante makes no excuses for his club having the league’s worst winning percentage at .392, just ahead of Fort Wayne’s .412.
“Our record kind of speaks for itself,” he said. “This is a season in which we have had a lesson in humility and character building. Our main goal every year is to develop tools and skills and giving the players a structure to develop good habits and get on the road to being big leaguers.”
Magnante said it’s probably not much different than what the TinCaps are going through. You work hard and don’t look too much at the standings.
“There’s really not much to look at,” Magnante said. “You try to stay in the moment and be as good as you can be on a given day, maintain a positive effort and just give our best out there.”
TinCaps manager Michael Collins said these have been “great, quality ballgames for both teams.”
Streak ends: Tyler Marincov’s RBI double in the fourth inning snapped a stretch of nine consecutive scoreless innings hurled by TinCaps starter Cody Hebner. He worked a scoreless third before being pulled July 11 against South Bend, then pitched five shutout innings Friday against Quad Cities before holding down Beloit for three innings.
Local kid: Beloit catcher Josh Ludy made his season debut Thursday. Born in Fort Wayne, Ludy graduated from Jay County High School. He struck out swinging leading off the third and finished 0 for 4 after grounding out to third to end the game.
What is next: The series wraps up Friday, with Fort Wayne’s Kyle Lloyd (3-4, 4.79 ERA) vs. Hunter Adkins (1-3, 5.40 ERA).