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The Journal Gazette

Friday, August 31, 2018 10:10 pm

TinCaps fall to Lake County, 5-4, in final home game

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

How it Happened

Mason Thompson started for the TinCaps and ran into immediate trouble in the first inning. His control was immaculate (he threw 17 strikes among his first 22 pitches), but fell victim to some bad luck. The Captains pounded four hits in the opening inning, though none was actually hard-hit. An RBI double on a ground ball down the left-field from Jonathan Laureano drove in the game's first run and an Elvis Perez chopper up the middle went for a two-run single to make it 3-0 before the TinCaps had come up to bat.

Thompson's command deserted him in the second inning, however. The big right-hander walked two and gave up an RBI single Laureano to bring the Lake County lead to 4-0. Thompson threw 52 pitches in the first two innings, just 34 for strikes.

Thompson settled down a bit in the third and in the bottom half, the TinCaps' offense woke up. With one out, Kelvin Melean singled and Jeisson Rosario followed with a ground-ball single through the left to put runners on first and second. Jack Suwinski hit next and remained red-hot, lashing a line drive down the first-base line and into the TinCaps' bullpen. The Fort Wayne relievers weren't as quick to get out of the way as they could have been, giving Suwinski a chance to race around for a triple, his seventh of the season. The Captains complained, but the umpires let the play stand, bringing in two runs to make it 4-2. Later in the inning, a ball got past the catcher, and Suwinski raced home. The play was close, but he got his foot in by a hair to bring his team within a run.

In the sixth, the Captains got one back. Cleveland's 2016 first round pick, Will Benson, stepped up with two outs and launched a monster home run to right off Nick Kuzia to make it 5-3. The ball left his bat at a blistering 110 mph. As Benson neared home plate, catcher Chandler Seagle said something to the 6-foot-5 slugger and Benson stopped in his tracks a few steps short of the plate, raising his arms in a "What did you say?" gesture. Players started to leave both dugouts, but the umpire quickly ushered them back and a fight was averted.

The TinCaps had an opportunity to draw even or take the lead in the eighth, loading the bases with one out. Gabriel Arias and Esteury Ruiz struck out swinging, however, to end the inning and Ruiz slammed his bat on the ground in frustration after whiffing on what would have been ball four. 

Player of the Game: Will Benson

Benson, one of the Indians' top prospects, went 1 for 3 with his home run and two walks. The home run traveled 372 feet and was his 20th of the season, tying him with Ronaldo Hernandez and Ryan Noda for the Midwest League lead. He also has 53 RBI.

Facts and Figures

The game was the final home date for the TinCaps this season. They entered the game tied with West Michigan for the final spot in the Eastern Division playoffs. Fort Wayne finished the season 37-31 at home and drew just more than 376,000 fans, the second-fewest the TinCaps have had since they moved to Parkview Field in 2009. ... Thompson went 3 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on six hits. He struck out five and walked three, the first time he'd walked more than two since May 19, a span of 13 starts. ... Suwinski went 3 for 4 with two RBI and a run scored. He's hitting .378 since July 31. ... Before the game, the Padres placed Fort Wayne infielder Olivier Basabe on the disabled list and promoted 18-year-old Agustin Ruiz from short-season Tri-City. Ruiz has 10 triples since his season debut on June 19, the most in all of minor-league baseball in that span. Basabe is the ninth player on the Fort Wayne disabled list.

What's Next?

The TinCaps open the final series of their season Saturday against the West Michigan Whitecaps. Fort Wayne and West Michigan are the two teams vying for the final Midwest League playoff spot. The series-opener starts at 7:05 p.m. and will feature Henry Henry (4-4, 4.99 ERA) on the mound for the TinCaps and Chance Kirby (0-1, 2.60 ERA) going for the Whitecaps. Kirby gave up three runs in five innings against the TinCaps on Aug. 13.

dsinn@jg.net