Where: Parkview Field
When: 7:05 p.m.
Pitchers: Luis Patiño (TinCaps) vs. Kyle Weatherly (Lugnuts)
TV: Xfinity 81
Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM
The TinCaps have had no trouble getting the lead on this homestand. Where they’ve run into problems is holding on to their advantage in the late innings.
Fort Wayne has taken a lead in five straight games but has lost three of those contests and needed a ninth-inning comeback to win another.
Sunday brought more of the same at Parkview Field as the TinCaps had a two-run advantage after one inning, but home runs from Andres Sotillo and Chad Spanberger helped the Lansing Lugnuts come from behind and win 5-4 in front of an announced crowd of 6,389.
“They’re definitely playing good enough baseball to win ballgames, we’ve just gotta tighten up some stuff on the pitching side,” manager Anthony Contreras said of his team. “We’re facing a good team that can hit well, and when you make mistakes to them, they’re gonna make you pay and they’ve done that the last two nights.”
The Lugnuts (66-47, 23-20 second half) jumped in front with a run on a Ryan Noda ground ball in the first, but the TinCaps (51-60, 19-23) responded resoundingly in the bottom half. With two outs, Jack Suwinski clubbed a 363-foot home run to right to even the score.
After Gabriel Arias lined a double to left-center field, Esteury Ruiz launched a home run off the facade in center field, 418 feet from home plate. It was his team-leading 11th homer of the year. The blast put the TinCaps in front 3-1, but they had just one hit over the next six innings.
Suwinski’s home run was part of a big day for the right-fielder, who hit No. 3 in the order for the third straight game after doing so once previously in two seasons with the TinCaps. The 20-year-old went 3 for 4 with the homer, his seventh of the season, and two doubles. It was his second three-hit game of the season and first with three extra-base hits.
Contreras said that Suwinski has been somewhat frustrated with his performance in his second year with the TinCaps. The outfielder came into Sunday’s game hitting .211 but said he’s pleased with the progress he’s made recently.
“Things don’t always go your way and it can get tough at times, but you just have to keep going,” Suwinski said. “You go through good spots and bad spots, but that’s the whole season, ups and downs and you just gotta work through it.
“Obviously the work I’m doing is paying off now, so it feels good.”
TinCaps starter Ben Sheckler held Lansing in check until the fifth, when Sotillo ripped a mammoth 428-foot home run to left-center to knot the score at 3. Sheckler pitched six innings, his longest outing of the season, and gave up three runs. He struck out four.
“It’s pretty good against a lineup like this,” Contreras said of Sheckler’s start. “He got hurt on the home run, but he gave us a chance to win, kept us in the ballgame and got us deep into the ballgame. That’s all you can ask for.”
The Lugnuts went in front on a Samad Taylor infield single in the seventh and got an insurance run when Spanberger took reliever Fred Schlichtholz deep in the eighth. Suwinski ripped an RBI double to right in the bottom of eighth to get his team within a run, but Ruiz popped up, ending that threat.