TinCaps vs. Dayton
When: 1:05 p.m. today
Where: Parkview Field
Tickets: $12.50, $10, $8, $5 (lawn)
TV: Comcast Channel 81
Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM
With Saturday night's game in the balance, David Bednar remained calm as pitch after pitch he threw was fouled off.
The TinCaps' closer finally forced Dayton's James Vasquez to swing and miss on the 11th pitch of his two-out, ninth-inning at-bat, sealing Fort Wayne's 7-4 victory before an announced crowd of 7,604 at Parkview Field.
“You've got to focus every pitch like it's the first one,” Bednar said. “You've got to keep going after it with your best stuff.”
With two runners on base, Vasquez, who has 19 career home runs in the Midwest League, represented the tying run. The slugger fouled off seven pitches, six with two strikes, before chasing a 2-2 slider out of the strike zone.
“Eventually I won the battle,” Bednar said after his eighth save in nine opportunities. “Pumped up to help my team get the win. They played a good game. Everybody battled hard.”
Jorge Oņa delivered Fort Wayne's first grand slam of the season to lead the offense.
In the third inning, the TinCaps (25-44) loaded the bases with two outs when Reinaldo Ilarraza was hit by a pitch to bring their All-Star right fielder to the plate. Oņa did not disappoint, sending a changeup over the left-field wall for his fifth home run of the year to provide a 4-1 lead.
“That was awesome,” Bednar said. “As soon as he made contact, I knew it was a shot.”
The Dragons (41-28) also used the long ball to their advantage, opening the game with a leadoff homer from Jose Siri and tied it in the fifth on a three-run shot from Taylor Trammell.
The TinCaps quickly retook the lead in their half of the fifth, 5-4, on A.J. Kennedy's first homer. Back-to-back RBI singles from Nate Easley and Rod Boykin in the sixth pushed the lead up to three.
That proved enough of a cushion on a night Fort Wayne's bullpen was in top form.
Hansel Rodriguez, who started his first 10 appearances, pitched in relief for only the second time this year and had two shutout innings. Diomar Lopez then worked a scoreless eighth before giving way to Bednar, who walked one batter and hit another but escaped trouble.
Reggie Lawson (1-3) earned his first win in five starts for the TinCaps. The 19-year-old right-hander pitched five innings and gave up four runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts.
The Dragons learned late Friday they had clinched a playoff spot, their first since 2011. Players and coaches celebrated beneath a tent the TinCaps provided on the right-field concourse.
“They have good chemistry,” Dayton manager Luis Bolivar said of his players. “Pitchers have been outstanding the whole year long, and guys have been clutch.”
Bednar defines clutch for Fort Wayne, which is sending Oņa, Logan Allen and Fernando Tatis Jr. to Tuesday's Midwest League All-Star Game. Bednar had a case but is happy for his teammates.
“They've had a great year so far,” Bednar said. “It's a great honor for them.”