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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, September 01, 2018 1:00 am

Lake County 5 TinCaps 4

TinCaps' home slate ends in loss

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps' 2018 schedule at Parkview Field has come to a close.

Fort Wayne played its final home Friday against the Lake County Captains, falling 5-4 after the Captains tagged starter Mason Thompson for four runs in the first two innings in front of an announced crowd of 8,082.

Friday's attendance brought the team's season total to 376,422, the second-lowest in the 10 seasons since Parkview Field opened in 2009, though it still ranks third in all of Single-A minor-league baseball this season.

The Fort Wayne loss, combined with a West Michigan loss to Dayton, leaves the TinCaps (63-72, 31-35 second half) and Whitecaps in a tie for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Division. The teams will play the final three games of the regular season at West Michigan to decide who will advance to the playoffs.

“Honestly I really haven't thought about it going forward just yet,” manager Anthony Contreras said of the season-ending series. “Our concentration was on this game. We know what the implications are. I'm sure (West Michigan's) watching it closely, everybody's watching it closely. 

“We've got to go out there and play good baseball. We had a few opportunities today that we could have capitalized on and we've got to stay composed.”

The TinCaps' best chance to even the score came in the eighth, when they loaded the bases with one out against reliever Thomas Ponticelli, but Gabriel Arias whiffed on a high fastball and Esteury Ruiz struck out on a full-count slider to end the threat, Ruiz slamming his bat down in frustration.

“The previous night, I saw (Arias) chased the fastball up, so I decided it can't hurt and I went back to that,” said Ponticelli, who was making his first Midwest League appearance. “(Against Ruiz), I was just trying to make my best pitch and on 3-2 not a lot of people are sitting slider.”

The Captains (57-79, 28-39) jumped on Thompson in the top of the first. The right-hander threw 17 strikes on his first 22 pitches, but four of those went for soft hits, including an RBI double from Jonathan Laureano and a chopper up the middle for a single that drove in two for Elvis Perez and made it 3-0. 

Thompson walked two in the second and a Laureano single drove in Tre' Gantt to make it 4-0, giving the TinCaps a difficult hill to climb for the rest of the game.

The home team almost got there in the fourth. Jack Suwinski's two-run triple cut the deficit in half, and he dashed home on a passed ball to make it 4-3. The TinCaps couldn't push any more runs across after that.

dsinn@jg.net