How it Happened
The TinCaps trailed by three runs entering the eighth, but once again their offense got going at the opportune moment. Juwuan Harris got the rally started with a one-out triple to the gap in left-center, the first triple at Parkview Field this season. After a groundout and a Tucupita Marcano walk, Grant Little slapped a single to center, scoring Harris and cutting the margin to 4-2.
A pitching change followed, but it did nothing to slow the TinCaps' momentum. New pitcher Jerry D'Andrea struggled to find the plate, walking Agustin Ruiz and then uncorking a wild pitch that brought home Marcano with the second run of the inning. With runners on second and third and two outs, Luis Almanzar strode to the plate. He was 0 for 3 with three strikeouts, but hit a hard ground ball through to the left side. Third baseman Juan Martinez dove for it, but it ticked off his glove and trickled into left field for a go-ahead two-run single. The TinCaps scored four runs in the inning to take a 5-4 lead.
Henry Henry loaded the bases in the top of the ninth, but worked his way out the jam with a ground ball to first for a force out at the plate and a flyout from pinch-hitter Jay Schuyler to end the game and secure a sweep.
After exploding for 12 runs on Wednesday, the TinCaps' offense went quiet in the early innings against Dayton starter Jhon De Jesus. De Jesus was masterful through five innings, confounding the TinCaps with a sharp-breaking curveball and a fastball that touched 94 mph, which he spotted on the outside corner. The 6-foot-4 right-hander held the TinCaps to just one hit in those first five innings and kept them off the scoreboard.
TinCaps starter Efrain Contreras was nearly as good, but faltered slightly in the third inning. The 19-year-old righty issued a leadoff walk and Miguel Hernandez followed with a line drive over Agustin Ruiz's head in left for a double. Ruiz seemed to take a less-than-ideal route to the ball and it landed near the warning track to drive in the game's first run. Contreras was mostly excellent otherwise, throwing a solid changeup and getting plenty of swings and misses. He did, however, walk three, a season-high for a TinCaps starter.
The Dragons added a run in the sixth against reliever Dan Dallas. Once again, a walk played a key role, this time drawn by left-fielder Shard Munroe. A ground ball to third followed and it got through Luis Almanzar for an error, letting Munroe reach third, where a ground ball to first drove him in to make it 2-0. It was Munroe's third run scored in the series.
The TinCaps cut the lead in half in the seventh thanks to designated hitter Nick Gatewood. With Agustin Ruiz on first, Gatewood ripped a fly ball deep to left-center and very nearly watched it fly over the wall for a game-tying home run. Instead it slammed off the top of the high left-field fence and ended up as an RBI double, slicing the deficit to 2-1. It was the second time in the series Gatewood missed a home run by a few feet. Catcher Juan Fernandez had a chance to tie the game with a runner on third and two outs, but struck out swinging. He swung his bat again in frustration on his way back to the dugout.
With their lead preserved, the Dragons extended it in the top of the eighth. The big blow was an RBI double off the bat of Martinez, which fell in left field after Ruiz misjudged the ball in the wind. It probably should have been caught, but Martinez reached, as did Reniel Ozuna, who grounded back to the pitcher. Pitcher Tom Colletti lost his footing and stumbled backwards, making Ozuna's tapper a single. Claudio Finol followed with a perfect squeeze bunt and a run scored to make it 4-1.
Player of the Game: Jhon De Jesus
De Jesus tossed five shutout innings, giving up only one hit and striking out seven. He picked up the victory to improve to 2-0 and has now thrown 10 shutout innings over his two starts this season after not pitching at all in 2018. He's thrown 16 consecutive innings dating back to Sept. 4, 2017.
Facts and Figures
The TinCaps (6-2) have won four games in a row and completed the sweep of the Dragons. They are in first place in the Eastern Division. Three of the wins in the series were comeback victories. ... The go-ahead single was Almanzar's second go-ahead hit of the series in the eighth inning or later. He also hit a grand slam in Fort Wayne's 5-4 win Tuesday. ... Contreras went five innings, giving up one run and striking out eight while walking three. Through eight starts, TinCaps starters have struck out 53 and walked eight. ... Ruiz went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored and has a hit in each of the seven games he's played this year. Almanzar has a hit in all six games he's played this season. Harris went 2 for 3 with a triple and a run scored. ... Prior to the game, TinCaps shortstop Justin Lopez was placed on the 7-day Injured List with wrist inflammation and reliever Trent Shelton was sent to extended spring training. Infielder Michael Curry and right-hander Korey Anderson replace them on the roster. ... Dragons reliever Ryan Campbell notched four strikeouts in the seventh inning after Ruiz reached on a dropped third strike. ... Henry got the save, the first of his pro career in four seasons.
The TinCaps go on the road for the next six games, starting with three in Bowling Green and then going to Dayton for three more. The stretch is part of 17 games in 17 days Fort Wayne is playing to start the season. The TinCaps' first day off is April 20. Joey Cantillo, Gabe Mosser and Ramon Perez are scheduled to start the three games against the Hot Rods.