How it Happened
The TinCaps struck in the second inning for the second straight night, taking an early lead. Catcher Blake Hunt got the inning started with a sharp single up the middle in excess of 100 mph off the bat. Justin Lopez followed and grounded another single softly through the right side. Hunt alertly ran full speed around second and reached third with a slide. A walk to Michael Curry loaded the bases with one out, bringing red-hot Ethan Skender to the plate.
Skender delivered, hitting a high-bouncing ground ball toward the left side that skipped well over third baseman Juan Martinez's head and reached the outfield for a two-run single. Tucupita Marcano later added an RBI ground ball and the TinCaps took a 3-0 lead into the third.
The Dragons struck back in the second as TinCaps starter Joey Cantillo opened the inning with four straight balls and a soft single followed to put two on. Leadoff hitter Mariel Bautista followed with a perfect bunt in no-man's land between first and the pitcher's mound for another single, loading the bases with nobody out. Dayton pushed across one run on a sacrifice fly, but Fort Wayne escaped further damage when Ethan Skender and Tucupita Marcano combined for a nifty 5-4-3 double play. Marcano juggled the ball on the turn, but was still able to get off a strong, accurate throw for the out.
The TinCaps got that run back immediately. Dwanya Williams-Sutton came up with one out and unloaded on the first pitch he saw, taking a remarkably smooth swing and driving a home run over the fence in left. The ball jumped off his bat at 95 mph and traveled 368 feet for a 4-1 Fort Wayne lead.
The lead increased to 5-1 in the fifth inning when a walk and two hit-by-pitches, including one of Michael Curry with the bases loaded, helped force in a run.
Cantillo didn't quite have his best stuff, but he was plenty good enough to hold that lead. The 19-year-old left-hander walked a pair and his fastball was mostly 89-91 mph rather than the 91-93 mph that it was in most recent start. He did touch 93 mph at least once kept the Dragons off balance with some darting changeups and a couple of a very sharp-breaking curveballs for swings and misses. There was plenty of soft contact and he finished his night by retiring seven straight, including strikeouts of the last two hitters he faced.
Relievers Cody Tyler and Moises Lugo combined to pitch three scoreless innings out of the bullpen, facing the minimum nine hitters and the TinCaps cruised down the stretch.
Player of the Game: Joey Cantillo
Cantillo turned in yet another quality start, his sixth in the last seven, pitching six innings and giving up one run on four hits while striking out six and walking two. He lowered his league-leading ERA to 2.05 and jumped back into the league lead with 121 strikeouts. He earned the victory to improve to 8-3.
Facts and Figures
The game began with an 87-minute rain delay, pushing the start time past 8:30 p.m. ... The TinCaps move above .500 at home with the win, running their record to 26-25. They won 2 of 3 games in the series and have captured three straight series at home. ... Williams-Sutton came into the game riding a 15-game on-base streak and leading the Midwest League in OBP at .406. He went 1 for 3 with the home run and a hit by pitch to extend his streak to 16. The home run was his fifth of the season. He leads the league in HBPs with 20 and is three shy of the Fort Wayne record, which stands at 23. He made his first career appearance in center field tonight in his 95th career game. ... Tyler retired all six hitters he faced, part of a string of 13 straight hitters Fort Wayne retired. ... Lugo was making his Midwest League debut after pitching for three seasons in rookie ball. He picked up his first strikeout, as well. ... It was Princess Night at the ballpark and the TinCaps wore jerseys made to look like a Prince Charming tuxedo.
The TinCaps go out on the road for a four-game series against first-half Eastern Division champion Great Lakes at Dow Diamond in Midland, Michigan. The Loons are in second in the division in the second half with a 21-14 record, though they are just 7-8 at home. Fort Wayne will send Ryan Weathers, Sam Keating, Omar Cruz and Efrain Contreras to the mound in the series. The TinCaps return to Parkview Field for a seven-game homestand beginning Saturday.