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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps' Tucupita Marcano prepares to bunt the ball during the third inning against the Whitecaps at Parkview Field on Friday. The TinCaps split the doubleheader, losing the first game 12-3 and winning the second 2-1.

Saturday, April 20, 2019 12:10 am

TinCaps split doubleheader, Mosser strikes out eight

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps could have packed it in after the first game Friday night. It was cold and they'd gotten walloped 12-3 in an ugly first game that took almost three hours to play even though it was only seven innings. They could have played out the string and tried to salvage one game of the series against the West Michigan Whitecaps on Saturday.

Gabe Mosser didn't let that happen. The right-hander set the tone with two strikeouts in the first inning and attacked the Whitecaps hitters all night, eventually striking out a career-high eight without a walk and giving up just three hits to pick up his first win of the season. After an interminable first game in which Fort Wayne depleted its bullpen, Mosser got the team back on track to win the series Saturday. Mosser, who is from Pennsylvania and pitched there in college at Shippensburg, is accustomed to pitching in cold temperatures and it showed against West Michigan. He had his fastball and curveball working and continued his impressive early-season run, settling in at a 1.20 ERA after three starts.

"I'm used to it," Mosser said of the cold. "I love it because hitters hate it."

Just as encouraging was Carlos Belen's outing to close out the second game. The converted infielder had struggled in three of his last four appearances, but was terrific against the Whitecaps. He picked up right where Mosser left off, striking out four in two scoreless innings that took most of the drama out of the final innings of a one-run game. He walked none and faced the minimum, attacking hitters with his blazing fastball and getting swings and misses with the sharp-breaking slider. Belen is still a pitching novice, but he clearly has the stuff to succeed at this level and probably higher levels, as well. He can be Fort Wayne's best reliever if he harnesses that as he did tonight.

The first game was much less encouraging all around, although plenty of that can be blamed on the cold. Joey Cantillo didn't have his command after having his start pushed back a day because of rain Thursday and he got just two outs before being pulled. It was really the first poor start by a TinCaps pitcher this season, coming less than 24 hours after I'd written how the Fort Wayne starting pitching had been superb all the way around. I'm not superstitious, but if I were, I'd feel guilty about that one. By the third inning, West Michigan led 8-0 and the TinCaps were already looking ahead to the second game. One consolation prize was getting to see a position player pitching, as Lee Solomon took the ball for the TinCaps in the seventh inning. He promptly gave up a booming home run to Parker Meadows so, unlike Belen, I don't think pitching is in Solomon's future if being a utility player doesn't pan out. His fastball topped out in the low-70s. 

These April games are always difficult because of the rapidly shifting weather and playing two games in that cold is physically daunting. The TinCaps emerged with a split and can take the series with a win Saturday afternoon. Now if only the rain would hold off.

dsinn@jg.net