How it Happened
As has happened so often lately, the TinCaps fell behind in the first inning. Today, it was because of some rotten luck. With a runner on first and two outs, Ruben Cardenas ripped a single to left off Fort Wayne starter Sam Keating. Left-fielder Grant Little came up firing and tried to cut down the runner at third. The play would have been close, but as the throw came in, it kicked off the sliding runner's foot and bounced away. The runner, Bo Naylor, was not only safe at third, but he was able to get up and race home with the game's first run.
In the fourth inning, bad luck struck again for Keating. The inning began with an error on shortstop Justin Lopez on a routine ground ball and the hitter, Jose Fermin, eventually reached third following a stolen base and a ground ball. Keating nearly escaped the inning without any damage, getting a big strikeout with a runner on third and one out. With two away, Jonathan Engelmann topped a ground ball to the right side. Keating charged off the mound and reached for it, but it scooted just past him and into no-man's land for an infield hit, bringing in another run. Engelmann's hit came off his bat at a blistering 34 mph. Daniel Schneeman then added insult to injury with a triple into the right-field corner for a 3-0 Lake County lead.
That lead looked bigger than three runs because the TinCaps offense had trouble getting anything going against Captains starter Zach Draper. Draper didn't get many swings and misses, but he kept Fort Wayne off balance all evening, inducing a plethora of ground balls and weak pop-ups. He scattered the few hits he did surrender and exited after six shutout innings.
The Captains added a run in the eighth against reliever Jose Quezada on an RBI double from Jose Fermin. Quezada seemed angry that he gave up the double and his next fastball was 97 mph, a tick or two harder than he usually throws, but the damage had been done and the TinCaps trailed 4-0.
That run became important because the TinCaps rallied in the eighth. Reliever Brendan Meyer walked the first two hitters – Jawuan Harris and Xavier Edwards – before being replaced by side-arm thrower Randy Valladares. The left-hander made Tucupita Marcano look silly on a strikeout, but then walked Blake Hunt to load the bases. Dwanya Williams-Sutton also looked uncomfortable, but he grounded what should have been a single up the middle. The Captains were shifted well, however, and Williams-Sutton was lucky to stay out of a double play on what turned out to be a fielder's choice RBI. The inning ended with only the one run across and Lake County up 4-1.
Player of the Game: Zach Draper
Draper had his best start of the season, pitching six innings for the first time in 14 starts. He did not give up a run, striking out three without a walk. He surrendered just four hits and no two of those were in the same inning. He got the victory to improve to 5-2 this season and 5-0 at Lake County.
Facts and Figures
The attendance was more than 9,000, the largest of the season and among the six largest in Parkview Field history for a baseball game. ... The loss drops the TinCaps below .500 at home this season (20-21). ... Fort Wayne went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position, making the TinCaps a combined 1 for 18 in the last two games w/RISP. ... Edwards came into the game leading the league in batting average (.340, no one else is higher than .312), OBP (.395) and fourth in steals (20). He went 0 for 3 with a walk. ... Hunt entered the game on a season-long nine-game hit streak and went 2 for 3 with a walk to extend the streak to 10. He has six straight multi-hit games. ... Jawuan Harris went 1 for 1 with a walk, hit by pitch and his 17th steal of the year. ... Keating went seven innings for the second time this season, giving up three runs, although none were earned. He struck out four, walked one and gave up four hits, but took the tough-luck loss to drop to 3-5. ... The TinCaps wore special red, white and blue jerseys decorated with stars. The logos on their caps were overlaid with the American flag.
These teams will meet again Friday at Parkview for the finale of the four-game series (the first two games were played at Lake County's home park in Eastlake, Ohio). First pitch will be at 7:05 p.m. The TinCaps will send 20-year-old left-hander Omar Cruz (0-0, 7.36 ERA) to the mound for the second outing of his Midwest League career. He struck out five and walked three in his debut June 29. The Captains will counter with 20-year-old right-hander Luis Oviedo (6-4, 4.54 ERA), the No. 7 prospect in the Cleveland Indians' farm system, per Fangraphs.