For 81/2 innings today it looked like the TinCaps would lose this game. The Beloit pitchers were seemingly in control and even when Fort Wayne did string together a few hits, the Snappers immediately responded with some of their own, or the TinCaps helped them out with costly errors.
It's a mark of how well this team is playing that it somehow found a way to win anyway, scoring two runs in the eighth and four more in the ninth to come away with a 7-6 win. The victory is the team's fifth in the last six games and improves their record to 12-14, the closest the TinCaps have been to .500 since they were 0-2.
On a longer-term note, this was another data point in support of the idea that this team, especially the young position players in the lineup, have the ability to be successful this summer. Justin Lopez, 17, the youngest player in the Midwest League, hit a home run and drove in two runs with a double in the eighth, and second baseman Esteury Ruiz singled in the eighth and walked in the ninth, helping extend game-turning rallies.
Of course, Fort Wayne got plenty of help from its veterans, as well, with Carlos Belen pinch-hitting in the ninth and lining a two-run double down the left-field line on the first pitch he saw. Jack Suwinski then took three straight balls before getting hit in the knee on the final pitch of the game, forcing in the winning run from third and sending Fort Wayne home winners. This is how a team wins games when it's hot and the TinCaps are hot right now. They have a chance for their first sweep of the season tomorrow night and still have four more games left on this homestand.
After the game, Fort Wayne left-hander MacKenzie Gore, the top pitching prospect in the Padres organization, threw a simulated game against TinCaps hitters, pitching two innings with manager Anthony Contreras and pitching coach Burt Hooton watching from behind the mound.
The No. 3 pick in last year's draft hasn't pitched since his first start of the season because of a blister, but he seemed fine physically today and had plenty of zip on his fastball. Contreras said Gore looked good, with the one quibble that the location of his off-speed pitches needed some tightening up. Gore isn't scheduled to pitch the rest of this week at home, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him get a start next week in either Quad Cities or Kane County.