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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, August 16, 2018 9:30 pm

TinCaps beat South Bend, 5-1, in first game of doubleheader

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

How it Happened

The teams traded runs in the first inning on a pair of solo homers. South Bend left-fielder Jimmy Herron got the scoring started with a long ball to left in the top of the inning. The ball was only 92 mph off the bat, but kept carrying over the left-field wall. In the bottom of the inning, Esteury Ruiz hit a much more impressive shot, taking pitcher Brendon Little deep to right-center. The ball jumped off his bat at 103 mph and traveled 403 feet to one of the deepest parts of the ballpark, knotting the score at 1.

The TinCaps took the lead for good in the second inning. Jalen Washington led off the inning with a walk and then moved to second on a passed ball. Juan Fernandez and Aldemar Burgos failed to drive in the run, but No. 9 hitter Hunter Jarmon came through. Jarmon roped a double the other way, one-hopping the wall in right field and putting Fort Wayne in front 2-1. 

The Cubs had a chance to even the score in the third. With two outs, there was a ground ball to third that Olivier Basabe probably should have had, but it got through for a single. The play seemed to rattle starter Osvaldo Hernandez a little because he threw six straight balls to the next two batters. Manager Anthony Contreras said he's seen improvement in Hernandez's demeanor when he hits a rough patch on the mound and it showed in this case as the left-hander took a deep breath behind the mound, steadied himself, and got a pop-up to escape the jam.

The TinCaps extended their lead with another walk-double sequence in the third. Ruiz led off the inning with a double and after two outs, Gabriel Arias smoked a double off the right-field wall (he missed home run by just a few feet) and brought in the second baseman to make it 3-1. Arias' double left his bat at 102 mph.

Fort Wayne broke the game open in the fourth. Fernandez led off with with a line drive double just inside the third-base line. Aldemar Burgos tried to bunt him over, but the bunt was so good that Burgos reached for a single. The third baseman was playing deep, which forced Little to field the ball himself. Jarmon followed with a safety squeeze bunt that brought in Fernandez. Later in the inning, Olivier Basabe ripped a long fly ball to center that was plenty deep enough to bring in Burgos from third and make it 5-1.

Player of the Game: Esteury Ruiz

Ruiz went 1 for 2 with a home run and a walk. The home run was his team-leading 12th of the season and first since Aug. 5. His big game came after a 3-for-4 performance in Wednesday's game. Ruiz also stole second base in the third inning, his 41st steal of the season. That total moves him past Samad Taylor for third in the Midwest League. 

Facts and Figures

The win was the TinCaps' fourth in a row, their longest streak since July 2-5 against the Great Lakes Loons. ... The game was the first of a doubleheader scheduled after a rainout Wednesday. ... Hernandez went five innings and gave up one run on five hits, keeping his season ERA at 1.81, the lowest in the Midwest League. He earned the win to improve to 11-4, the first pitcher in the league to reach 11 wins this season. ... The game began at 7:07 p.m. after a 92-minute rain delay. ... Cubs starter Brendon Little was a first-round pick (No. 27 overall) in 2017. ... Jarmon's two RBI marked his first game with multiple RBI with the TinCaps and second in his pro career, which started in June. ... Fort Wayne reliever Dan Dallas made his Midwest League debut in relief of Hernandez and pitched two scoreless innings, striking out three. ... Basabe made two errors.

What's Next?

In the second game of tonight's doubleheader, the TinCaps will send left-hander Tom Cosgrove (2-6, 4.39 ERA) to the mound, while the Cubs will counter with right-hander Javier Assad (5-6, 3.83 ERA).