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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, August 18, 2019 6:20 pm

TinCaps beat Bowling Green, 4-2, clinch series split

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

How it Happened

The Hot Rods had chances early in the game to jump in front, putting runners on first and third with one out in the first and runners on second and third with nobody out in the second. Both times, TinCaps starter Ryan Weathers worked out of the jam. The 19-year-old left-hander had perhaps his best stuff since April in the early innings, repeatedly sitting 92-93 mph with his fastball and finishing the first inning off with a looking strikeout on a 93 mph heater painted on the inside corner. He struck out four in the first two innings, picking two whiffs in the second with sharp sliders, as well.

With Weathers dealing, the TinCaps went in front in the second inning. Michael Curry led off with a sharp single to left and Justin Lopez followed with a line drive down the right-field line that turned into a hustle double for the shortstop. Agustin Ruiz hit next and ripped a fly ball to deep center field. It was caught on the warning track, but Curry jogged home to make it 1-0.

The Hot Rods tied the game in the third with a Grant Witherspoon single to left that scored Jonathan Aranda from second with two outs. Curry had a chance to throw out Aranda at the plate, but he wasn't able to get much momentum behind the throw and it took several hops before reaching the plate. Then, catcher Blake Hunt couldn't hold on to it as he reached across for the tag and Aranda slid in safely.

The score remained 1-all into the fifth, when Saturday's hero struck again for Fort Wayne. Lopez started the rally with a one-out double, his second two-bagger of the day, and moved to third on a ground ball. Ethan Skender hit with two outs and, after breaking a bat, dumped a single into left to bring in the go-ahead run.

The lead didn't last long, however. Weathers seemed to tire a bit in the fifth, with his fastball velocity slipping to 87-90 mph. He got one out, but then gave up a rocket double to left to Ruben Cardenas, ending the left-hander's day. Weathers exited the game clearly upset with himself, ceding the mound to reliever Jose Quezada. Quezada gave up a single to Chris Betts to put runners on the corners with one out, then a very strange play evened the score again. Nick Schnell dropped down a terrific safety squeeze bunt, easily bringing in the tying run. As Quezada fielded the ball and tried to get the out at first, he slipped and fell and the throw went into right field. Betts raced all the way around and tried to score from first, but Ruiz was on the spot and made a strong throw to cut down the designated hitter at the plate. The game was tied 2 after five innings.

The score remained deadlocked into the eighth inning, when the TinCaps mounted a two-out rally. Curry got the string started with a bloop single to center, his second hit of the game. Lopez followed with a walk to put two on, bringing Ruiz to the plate. The right-fielder continued his excellent day with a line-drive single to right center, scoring Curry easily to put the TinCaps in front 3-2. Skender then followed with a single to left, plating an insurance run. In all, Fort Wayne had five straight hitters reach base after the second out.

Henry Henry worked around a Ripken Reyes error to pitch a scoreless ninth and earn his ninth save of the season.

Player of the Game: Ethan Skender

Skender earns the Player of the Game award for the second straight day after he goes 2 for 3 with a walk and two RBI. He has multiple hits in four of his last six games and has 21 RBI in 28 games with Fort Wayne this season. He leads in the team in RBI since his July 14 debut. He's hitting .330 with the TinCaps.

Facts and Figures

The TinCaps are 15-12 at home this season and only 9-19 on the road. ... Bowling Green entered the game in first place in the Eastern Division in the second half. ... Weathers went 4 1/3 innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on six hits and striking out six with one walk. Weathers has walked one batter combined in his last four starts. He had worked 24 consecutive innings without issuing a free pass since July 24 before walking Osmy Gregorio in the fourth. His six strikeouts were the most he has had since April 22, before he went on the IL with a dead arm. ... Manager Anthony Contreras and a trainer came out to talk to Weathers in the second inning. Weathers didn't seem to know why they were coming out and they left after a 10-second conversation. ... Curry went 2 for 4 and scored two runs, extending his hit streak to six games. Since, May 26, his .877 OPS is third in the Midwest League. ... Lopez went 2 for 3 with two doubles, a walk and two runs scored. 

What's Next?

These teams will meet again Monday for the third matchup in this three-game series at Parkview Field. First pitch will be at 7:05 p.m. The TinCaps will send 20-year-old right-hander Edwuin Bencomo (1-0, 3.04 ERA) to the mound. Bencomo is making his second start of the season after going five innings and giving up one run while striking out three in his first start last time out against South Bend. The Hot Rods will counter with 20-year-old right-hander Zack Trageton (3-0, 2.08 ERA), who has dominated in 17 1/3 innings in the Midwest League. Trageton was scheduled to pitch today, but his start was pushed back a day.

dsinn@jg.net