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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, May 19, 2018 10:40 pm

TinCaps beat South Bend, 5-4, win season-high fourth straight

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

How it Happened

After the TinCaps took a 5-0 lead in the first inning on Friday, the Cubs jumped in front in the first Saturday.

It was a strange play that gave the Cubs the lead and an unlucky one for pitcher Mason Thompson. With Chris Singleton on second, first baseman Jared Young grounded a fair ball down the first-base line. First baseman Jalen Washington, who doesn't usually play first, fielded the ball cleanly and his momentum took him in to foul territory. He thought the ball was foul and stopped, with his back to home plate, while Singleton rounded third and took off for the plate. Washington realized his mistake in time to fire home and make the play close, but Singleton was safe and the Cubs led 1-0. The run, somewhat cruelly, counted as an earned tally against Thompson.

South Bend picked up a second run on a single, a couple of bunts and a sacrifice fly in the third and the 2-0 lead was plenty for Cubs starter Cody Abbott. The right-hander was a second-round pick in the 2017 draft and was as advertised, keeping the TinCaps well off-balance all night. He commanded his fastball with remarkable precision, getting plenty of swings and misses. The only TinCap to have any real success against the 22-year-old was Jeisson Rosario, who walked in his first two at-bats against Abbott, showing a good eye on several tempting pitches. Rosario was caught stealing after both free passes.

The TinCaps' offense remained punchless into the middle innings, but Mason Thompson kept his team in the game with a fourth straight solid start. The big right-hander didn't have great stuff, but mixed his fastball with a low-70s curveball that was working well. He had some help defensively from Luis Almanzar, who made several nice plays at third and continues to impress in his first week in the Midwest League as an 18-year-old.

The Cubs extended their lead to 3-0 in the sixth, but the TinCaps finally got something going after Abbott left the game. Reliever Enrique De Los Rios didn't fool anyone and the TinCaps loaded the bases with nobody out on two singles and a walk. One of the singles came from Justin Lopez, who dropped an absolutely perfect bunt down the third-base line that didn't even draw a throw to first. Two batters later, Jack Suwinski lined a single to right, driving in two runs and drawing a huge roar from the large Parkview Field crowd. 

Later in the inning, the TinCaps got a pair of massive break back to back. Robbie Podorsky, who had struck out twice swinging and looked bad doing so, came up with two outs and runners on first and third. He grounded to third, but the throw pulled the first baseman off the bag, according to the umpire. The tying run scored on the play, although it looked on replay like the first baseman kept his foot on the base until after he caught the ball. 

Podorsky, who stole 16 bases in 37 games at Tri-City last season, then took off for second as the throw got away from the catcher and went into center field. Suwinski raced home with the go-ahead run to make it 4-3. Podorsky hasn't had much success at the plate in his first two games in Fort Wayne, but he's incredibly dangerous when he gets on base.

The TinCaps came within one out of sealing a win in nine innings, but Jared Carkuff gave up a two-out double to Jhonny Bethencourt with a runner on second in the ninth, knotting the score at 4.  

Fort Wayne wouldn't be denied, however, and Gabriel Arias blooped a single to left on a broken bat in the bottom of the 10th to win it. The TinCaps mobbed him out near second base as the crowd roared.

Player of the Game: Cory Abbott

Abbott shut down a TinCaps' offense that had been red-hot over the last few games. He pitched six shutout innings, striking out 11, including the final three hitters he faced in the sixth. He certainly passed the eye test, getting more than a few awkward-looking swings and misses against overmatched Fort Wayne hitters. The right-hander gave up just two hits, both singles to Luis Campusano. He ended up with a hard-luck no decision. 

Facts and figures?

The win is the TinCaps' fourth in a row, their longest streak this season. They're 5-1 on this homestand. ... The game was the TinCaps' third extra-inning contest of the season, and they are 2-1 in such games. ... The Fort Wayne bullpen had worked 9 1/3 straight scoreless innings before Carkuff gave up a run in the ninth. Former IPFW right-hander Evan Miller pitched 2 2/3 scoreless and struck out four. His ERA is down to 0.60. ... Thompson went 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs and striking out three. ... Luis Almanzar has scored a run in five straight games (seven total in those games). ... Luis Campusano went 3 for 4 and the one out was a line drive rocket to left. ... TinCaps left fielder Robbie Podorsky, in just his second game with the team, made a tremendous leaping catch in the first inning. ... Tyler's Amazing Balancing Act made its debut at Parkview Field on Saturday. Tyler balanced, among other things, an ironing board and a wheelbarrow on his chin and danced with Esteury Ruiz and Justin Fernandez.

What's next?

The TinCaps complete their seven-game homestand Sunday against South Bend at 1:05 p.m. Top prospect MacKenzie Gore (0-1, 10.13 ERA) will be on the mound for Fort Wayne, likely on another limited pitch count in his third start back from the disabled list. The Cubs will start right-hander Erich Uelmen (2-4, 6.58 ERA) as they look to avoid a sweep.

dsinn@jg.net