Saturday, June 10, 2017 10:40 pm
Ilarraza, Tatis homer as TinCaps win 4th straight
CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette
Greeting Reinaldo Ilarraza in front of the TinCaps' dugout, Fernando Tatis Jr. looked as excited as a young fan receiving his first autograph.
What brought a huge smile to Tatis' face was that his teammate had just nailed the first home run of his professional career, and Ilarraza's long ball was indeed a central highlight of Fort Wayne's 8-4 victory over Lansing on Saturday night at Parkview Field.
Not to be outdone, though, Tatis would add a two-run drive, his seventh of the season, later in the game.
The TinCaps (23-39) are on a season-long four-game win streak, and the good vibes are in part due to Ilarraza, an 18-year-old infielder who is starting to heat up. He went 2 for 5 with the solo homer Saturday and finished 2 for 4 with an RBI single on Friday night when Fort Wayne took the opener of this four-game series against Lansing.
Ilarraza, batting .193 in his first full pro season, picked up his 15th RBI leading off the fourth inning Saturday. The Venezuelan drove a fastball from Tayler Saucedo (2-2) out to left for a 2-1 lead.
The Lugnuts (33-26) have had the top offense in the Midwest League but were held in check by the TinCaps for a second straight day. This time it was All-Star left-hander Logan Allen (4-3) serving as the immovable object against the irresistible force.
In six innings, Allen gave Lansing only two runs on five hits. Bo Bichette, whose .378 batting average leads the league, tagged Allen for an RBI double in the first. Christian Williams became the first player this season to homer off Allen. Williams' solo shot pulled the Lugnuts within 4-2 in the sixth.
Fort Wayne responded in the bottom of that inning with Buddy Reed's RBI double and Tatis' sacrifice fly. Tatis' dinger pushed the lead to 8-2 in the eighth.
Edward Olivares launched a two-run homer with two outs in the top of the ninth, and Bichette followed with a single, but Diomar Lopez got a called third strike on Williams to end it.
A run-scoring throwing error by catcher Ridge Smith in the second provided Fort Wayne a 1-1 tie.
Jack Suwinski (1 for 4 with a sacrifice fly) and Brad Zunica (2 for 3 with a solo homer and two walks) were also offensive standouts as the TinCaps played before an announced crowd of 7,752.