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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, July 19, 2018 11:10 pm

TinCaps fall to Burlington Bees 4-2 in 12 innings

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

How it happened

The TinCaps trailed 2-1 into the ninth and seemed ready to go quietly after another tough night on offense. Instead, Gabriel Arias got a rally started with a single to right and moved to second on a Juan Fernandez bunt. Robbie Podorsky then pinch ran for him and scored when Luis Almanzar lined a clutch two-out single to right that knotted the score and sent it to extra innings. 

Neither team scored in the 10th or 11th, but in the top of the 12th, catcher Harrison Wenson reached out and drove a yanked a 359-foot home run to left field off TinCaps reliever Fred Schlichtholz. The blast quieted what had been a large and raucous crowd and Fort Wayne went quietly in the bottom half to fall for the second straight night.

The teams both posted a run in the first inning to get the scoring started. Burlington took an early lead thanks to Torii Hunter Jr., son of former Fort Wayne Wizard Torii Hunter Sr., who singled and reached second on failed pickoff attempt with the help of a nifty swim-move slide after the ball beat him. Right fielder Kevin Williams drove him in with a ringing double to make it 1-0.

In the bottom of the inning, Fort Wayne quickly evened the score. No. 2 hitter Esteury Ruiz jumped on the first pitch he saw and sent a rocket to left field. The ball was on a line, but high enough to hit the yellow padding on top of the fence for a game-tying home run. It was Ruiz's ninth homer of the season, breaking a tie with Tirso Ornelas for the team lead.

From there, the pitchers took over and the game zipped along. Both Fort Wayne's Tom Cosgrove and Burlington's Michael Santos dominated early, combining for 11 strikeouts in the first four innings. Cosgrove struck out six through his first five innings, utilizing a changeup with a ton of downward tilt to get whiffs. After Williams' double, Cosgrove retired eight hitters in a row and didn't give up another hit until the sixth. The first four innings took barely an hour to play.

The Bees took the lead in that sixth. Cosgrove had been cruising through the middle innings, but with two outs and nobody on base in a tie game, Burlington left fielder Orlando Martinez turned on a fastball and sent it high in the air. It kept carrying and eventually landed just over the right-field fence for a go-ahead home run, putting the visitors in front 2-1. It was Martinez's first home run in the Midwest League in 16 games.

Player of the Game: Harrison Wenson

In addition to his game-winning home run, Wenson also singled and doubled, finishing 3 for 5 with two RBI. The home run was his fifth of the season and traveled 359 feet after leaving his bat at 102 mph. Wenson came into the game batting an anemic .121 in the Midwest League.

Facts and figures

Ruiz's first-inning home run went 355 feet and left his bat at 104 mph. He finished 4 for 5, his first four-hit game this season. ... Fort Wayne is 4-4 in extra innings. ... The TinCaps have a lost a season-high six in a row at Parkview Field. ... Fort Wayne has dropped 10 of its last 12 games, its worst stretch since the beginning of the season. ... The TinCaps have scored two or fewer runs in six of their last seven games. ... Bees starter Michael Santos threw four innings, giving up just one hit (the Ruiz homer) and striking out a season-high six. It was his first start of the season after 10 relief appearances. ... Travis Radke pitched three scoreless innings, striking out four. Fellow TinCaps reliever Austin Smith pitched two scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth and struck out five. ... The teams combined for 36 strikeouts. ... Orlando Martinez, who hit the go-ahead home run in the sixth, came in slugging .237 in the Midwest League. He slugged .604 in 12 rookie ball games earlier this year. ... Former "Voice of the TinCaps" Mike Couzens called the game on Xfinity 81. Couzens called games from 2012-14 before leaving for ESPN. He's called major league games on ESPN radio. ... The announced crowd was a 8,647, the second-largest crowd this season.

What's next?

These teams will play the finale of their three-game series on Friday night at Parkview Field. First pitch will be at 7:05 p.m. The TinCaps will send All-Star starter Aaron Leasher (5-4, 3.06 ERA) to the mound. He's had a couple of rough starts in a row, giving up seven runs in 9 1/3 innings over his last two outings. The Bees will counter with 19-year-old right-hander Jose Soriano (0-3, 4.50 ERA).