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  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps' Tom Cosgrove, shown pitching earlier this season, gave up just one run on three hits in five innings and struck out the side in the first, third and fifth on his way to a career-high 11 strikeouts Friday night against South Bend. That total was also the highest for any TinCaps pitcher this season.

Saturday, August 18, 2018 1:50 am

TinCaps win fifth straight after 3:49 rain delay

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

It took close to seven hours after the official start time, but the TinCaps did eventually beat the South Bend Cubs and win their fifth straight game Friday night (although even saying it happened Friday night isn't entirely accurate, because the game technically ended at 12:22 Saturday morning). The victory keeps the TinCaps a half-game in front of West Michigan for the top spot in the second-half Eastern Division playoffs and sends them in to a season-long 10-game road trip with plenty of confidence.

"It's propelling us into the road trip," manager Anthony Contreras said of the winning streak. "We know how long (the trip) is going to be. These guys are in a good spot right now going into the road trip. We just can't get complacent with our game, we have to stay focused for all nine innings while we're out there."

Staying focused was a challenge for the TinCaps (and the Cubs) on Friday night. The teams waited through a nearly four-hour rain delay before they finally played one game instead of the scheduled doubleheader. The TinCaps passed the time playing cards and ping pong and were able to remain ready to play.

"I don't think anyone minds it too much, we all like spending time with each other," starting pitcher Tom Cosgrove said. "It's not like we're all sitting in (the clubhouse) miserable. We play some cards, eat a lot. It's not nervous eating, but there's nothing else to do, so we're grabbing snacks and stuff. It's not a waiting-around kind of vibe in there, it's a usual day, just a little longer."

Once the game started, Cosgrove showed that he had remained prepared. He gave up just one run on three hits in five innings and struck out the side in the first, third and fifth on his way to a career-high 11 punchouts. That total was also the highest for any TinCaps pitcher this season.

"My offspeed pitches were working well tonight," the 22-year-old left-hander said. "My fastball wasn't great, I didn't feel like I had great command, honestly. I think it was just more that my offspeed was sharp and I got my fastball over when I needed to. I worked with it."

Cosgrove didn't get the win because the game was tied at 1 when he exited. The TinCaps took a 4-1 lead with three runs in the sixth, but the Cubs tied it with three of their own in the seventh. The winning tallies came in on a Kelvin Melean two-run homer in the seventh, his first home run at Parkview Field. The Cubs rallied once more in the ninth and scored to make it 6-5, but right-hander Dylan Coleman induced a game-ending double play with the bases loaded to preserve the win, six hours and 47 minutes after the game had been scheduled to start.

"These are the types of days and games that, you build character from these days," Contreras said of the rain-soaked series. "You learn how to be patient and get yourself ready and do things that are uncomfortable. And then to pull out a win on top of it is huge because it shows you that, no matter what the day throws at you, you have a chance to win a ballgame."

dsinn@jg.net