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The Journal Gazette

Friday, May 19, 2017 11:20 pm

Loons slip past TinCaps

JOSH PATTERSON | The Journal Gazette

With the week’s warmer temperatures giving way to weather more befitting football season Friday night at Parkview Field, the TinCaps found few opportunities to score.

But on a night where Great Lakes pitchers struck out 13 batters, including a pair to end innings with runners on third base, a single run in the fifth inning was the slightest of differences in a 2-1 Loons victory.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to get these guys to be able to put balls in play,” TinCaps manager Anthony Contreras said. “What they have to learn is when they’re facing a tough pitcher or they’re in a situation where they’re trying to drive in runs, a lot of these younger kids try to do too much.”

Prior to the start of Friday’s game, the teams concluded Thursday’s contest that was halted due to the Midwest League curfew, where no inning can start after 12:50 a.m. A lengthy rain delay allowed just eight innings to be completed Thursday night. Neither team scored as position players pitched for both teams, and the Loons finished off a 17-8 win.

Friday’s defeat overshadowed a strong pitching performance from Fort Wayne’s Hansel Rodriguez. The 20-year-old righty turned in his longest outing of the season to date, allowing four hits over seven innings.

In his previous start, Rodriguez lasted just two innings, giving up seven runs on eight hits. On Friday, just one of his two runs were earned.

“I had bad location with my fastball last game, and on my days off I’m working to keep the fastball down,” Rodriguez said through an interpreter.

Of his 89 pitches, 63 were thrown for strikes. He finished his appearance particularly strong, fanning four of the final five hitters he faced.

“When he starts to get a little confidence, and he starts to see what pitches are working at that time, if he does that on a normal basis and can control his emotions with that, he can do a really good job,” Contreras said.

An unearned run put the TinCaps (16-25) up 1-0 in the first, as Jack Suwinski laced a one-out double. He advanced to third when Jorge Ona reached on a throwing error by Loons third baseman Brendon Davis. On the next pitch, Willian Soto uncorked a wild pitch past catcher Keibert Ruiz, allowing Suwinski to score.

But Great Lakes (19-22) would strike right back. Outfielder Cody Thomas tripled off the wall in left-center to lead off the second, then scored as Suwinski, the center fielder, misplayed the carom.

The game remained tied until the fifth. Ruiz doubled to lead off, advancing to third on a fielder’s choice before scoring on a Luis Paz single.

Fernando Tatis Jr., who exited Thursday’s contest in the second inning after getting hit in the cheek fielding a throw at second base, returned to the lineup Friday night, batting leadoff.

“It was just a contusion,” Contreras said. “We just got very lucky.”

Notes: A fifth-inning single extended Tatis’ hitting streak to 14 games, dating back to May 4. Entering Friday’s game, Tatis was hitting .367 in May… Attendance was announced at 6,647 on Star Wars Night.