TinCaps vs. Dayton
Eastern Division Finals (best of 3)
Dayton leads 1-0
Game 1: Dayton 2, TinCaps 1
Game 2: 7 p.m. today at Fifth Third Field, Dayton
*Game 3: 7 p.m. Monday at Fifth Third Field, Dayton
* – if necessary
The TinCaps have shown a lot of resiliency this season – remember, this team started the season 19-39 – and it's not about to be rattled by a must-win situation in today's Game 2 of the best-of-three Eastern Division Championship Series.
“Never. We've been through a lot of adversity this year. We know what we can do as a team now, late in the season. We've played together for a long time now. We've seen a lot of failures and success coming off failures. It's not a problem; we're all focused and ready to go,” left fielder Nate Easley said after a 2-1 loss Saturday night to the Dayton Dragons.
For the exceedingly young TinCaps, there's even a silver lining to this situation: It's a valuable learning experience for the San Diego Padres prospects, who were one good bounce away from a different outcome in front of 2,255 fans at Parkview Field.
“They have to play these games and everything like that,” TinCaps manager Anthony Contreras said. “As dramatic and magnified as everything is because it's the playoffs, when it's all said and done, that feeling and that experience, you can't replicate that. These guys need to feel that, regardless of the result that's going on, because next year they probably won't even remember this game and what happened.”
The teams have met 15 times this year and this was only the third time the home team lost. The TinCaps squandered a terrific performance from starting pitcher Adrian Morejon, who worked six innings and gave up one run and seven hits, striking out five and walking two. Dayton's starter, Wennington Romero, was even more impressive over 61/3 innings, giving up one unearned run and six hits, striking out eight and walking none.
Down 1-0, the TinCaps (70-73, 2-1 in postseason) stranded two runners in both the first and second innings. But they tied it in the third inning, when Marcus Greene Jr.'s ground ball preceded shortstop Carlos Rivera's third throwing error of the postseason, bringing in Easley to tie it at 1.
Things were decided in the eighth inning, when TinCaps reliever Dauris Valdez followed a Jose Siri single with a wild pitch to advance him to second and then walked Taylor Trammell.
Valdez was then replaced by Andres Munoz, who squandered a 1-2 count to Bruce Yaro, although the fans certainly felt home plate umpire Darius Ghani erred twice in not awarding a third strike. Yaro hit a groundball to shortstop Gabriel Arias, who touched second base but failed to complete the double play with a low throw to the first baseman, Kyle Overstreet, bringing in Siri for the 2-1 lead.
“It shouldn't (rattle us). These guys are a talented team. I think we match up well against (Dayton),” Contreras said. “We have tremendous faith in Reggie (Lawson) going to the mound for us. Everybody's game steps up in the playoffs. You can see it. It gets quiet and everybody's focused, like you want it to be every game that we play.
“But the playoffs just bring a different type of atmosphere, and these guys are doing a good job for how young they are, keeping their heads in the game, competing.”
Easley was 3 for 4 for the TinCaps, while Overstreet was 2 for 4.