How it Happened
The Hot Rods' offense came into this series third in the league in runs and OPS. After a relatively quiet first two games of the series, Bowling Green got on the board early in tonight's matchup. Jordan Qsar got the scoring started with an RBI double to the gap in left-center, scoring Osmy Gregorio and putting the Hot Rods in front 1-0. TinCaps starter Edwuin Bencomo then worked hard to limit the damage, but some bad luck stopped him from him doing so. Ruben Cardenas followed Qsar and hit a tapper toward third that went for a swinging bunt single to put runners on first and third with two outs. Bencomo then struck out Nick Schnell with a good changeup, but the third strike squirted past catcher Juan Fernandez for a wild pitch and Qsar scored to make it a two-run lead before the side was retired.
The Hot Rods pushed their lead to 4-0 in the second inning with four more hits off Bencomo, including an RBI double from Jonathan Aranda and a run-scoring single off the bat of Ruben Cardenas, both with two outs. While Bencomo had gotten slightly unlucky in the first inning, the second was nearly all hard-hit balls from Bowling Green.
That four-run lead was plenty for Hot Rods starter Zack Trageton, who had arguably his best performance of the season at short-season Hudson Valley or with Bowling Green. Trageton zipped through the early innings, retiring the first 12 hitters he faced, including two strikeouts, before Michael Curry broke up the perfect game with a leadoff single in the fifth. Trageton promptly erased that hit with a 6-4-3 and the TinCaps did not come close to scoring again until the seventh.
In that seventh, with Trageton still on – he'd thrown only 61 pitches in six innings – Fort Wayne mounted its first real rally of the game. Agustin Ruiz led off with a soft groundball up the middle that turned into an error on second baseman Jonathan Aranda. Trageton tired as the inning wore on and walked two batters to load the bases with two outs. That brought No. 8 hitter Ripken Reyes to the plate and he went down looking at strike three on a pitch that looked like it might have been low.
The TinCaps got one run in the eighth inning when Jawuan Harris tripled to deep right field and Chris Givin drove him in with a line-drive sacrifice fly to center field. In the ninth, the TinCaps drew closer when Curry led off the inning with a rocket home run to left center. The ball jumped off his bat at 104 mph and traveled 374 feet for his eighth long ball of the season to make it 4-2. Justin Lopez followed with a double into the right-field corner and Dwanya Williams-Sutton got hit by a pitch, putting the tying run on first with nobody out.
The ending of the game was one of the most exciting of the season, though it didn't go the TinCaps' way. With two outs and two on, Harris ripped a double into the left-field corner. Lopez scored easily and, after Qsar had trouble getting the ball out of his glove, pinch-hitter Ethan Skender, who had hit into a fielder's choice, tried to score and tie the game. The throw and the runner reached home plate at nearly the exact same moment, but catcher Roberto Alvarez corralled the ball, blocked the plate effectively and applied the tag, ending the game.
Player of the Game: Zack Trageton
The 20-year-old right-hander took a perfect game into the fifth inning and needed just 85 pitches to work seven shutout innings, striking out six and giving up only two hits. It was the longest start of his career and he lowered his Midwest League ERA to 1.48 in his fifth start with Bowling Green. He came in with just two walks all season in 55 2/3 innings, but he walked three in the game, including two in the seventh.
Facts and Figures
The loss is just the third in the last 13 games for the TinCaps at Parkview Field. ... Williams-Sutton came in leading the Midwest League in OBP at .408 and went 0 for 2 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch. The HBP was Williams-Sutton's 29th of the season, extending his Fort Wayne franchise record. He leads the league in getting hit. ... Curry went 2 for 3 with a home run and a walk. He is hitting .295 now this season and has a seven-game hitting streak, including three straight multi-hit games. ... Bencomo went four innings, giving up four runs on eight hits while striking out three and walking one. It was his second start of the season. ... The Fort Wayne bullpen pitched five shutout innings, giving up just two hits. In this series, TinCaps relievers have pitched 13 1/3 scoreless innings, surrendering only six hits. ... Harris went 2 for 4 with a triple, double, run scored and RBI. ... It was Military Appreciation Night at Parkview Field. The TinCaps wore camouflage uniforms and "God Bless America" was sung before the game began.
These teams meet again for the finale of this four-game series Tuesday at Parkview Field. First pitch will be at 7:05 p.m. The TinCaps will send 20-year-old left-hander Omar Cruz (2-1, 2.78 ERA) to the mound. Cruz has an 0.54 ERA with 16 strikeouts and four walks over his last three starts. The Hot Rods will counter with 20-year-old right-hander Shane Baz (3-2, 3.10 ERA), the No. 12 overall pick in the 2017 draft and the fourth-ranked prospect in the Rays organization, per Fangraphs.