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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, August 20, 2019 10:50 pm

TinCaps lose to Bowling Green, 6-5, split series

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

How it Happened

The TinCaps did not have a baserunner until the fifth inning in Monday's loss, but they struck early tonight. In the bottom of the first inning, Ethan Skender led off and ripped a single back through the middle off a 95 mph fastball from Bowling Green starter Shane Baz. Skender advanced to second on a wild pitch and Tucupita Marcano pushed him to third with a ground ball to second, a nice piece of situational hitting. Blake Hunt struck out, however, and it looked like Baz might escape the jam. Red-hot Michael Curry hit next and bounced a routine grounder to third. Instead of finishing the inning, however, third baseman Osmy Gregorio threw the ball low to first and it bounced past Seaver Whalen, scoring Skender. It was 1-0 Fort Wayne after an inning.

It stayed a one-run TinCaps lead into the late innings. Fort Wayne starter Omar Cruz turned in a fourth consecutive excellent outing, ripping through the powerful Bowling Green offense with little trouble. He paired a fastball at 89-91 mph, which he located well all night, with a big, hard-breaking curveball in the mid-to-high 60s. The combination was effective and he did not give up a particularly hard-hit ball all night, nor did a Bowling Green runner reach second while he was on the mound.

Baz was just as good after the first inning. He hit 99 mph with his fastball multiple times and his curveball was terrific all night. The TinCaps had a runner on in each inning against Baz and put a runner in scoring position in the second, fourth and fifth, but were unable to push any other runs across.

The TinCaps held the lead until the seventh, when one play changed the course of the game. With reliever Dylan Coleman on the mound, the Hot Rods put runners on first and third with one out. Coleman then made a good pitch and Grant Witherspoon chopped right back to him. The Fort Wayne right-hander gloved the ball and turned to throw to second to start a potential double play. There was some confusion about who was covering second base and the issue threw off Coleman's rhythm just enough that he tossed the ball high and into center field, letting the tying run score. The next two hitters turned in softly-hit RBI singles, pushing Bowling Green in front 3-1 and ending Coleman's night.

That wasn't the end of the Bowling Green rally, however. With all-star Henry Henry replacing Coleman, No. 9 hitter Osmy Gregorio reached on an infield single to load the bases. Leadoff hitter Ford Procter followed with a ground-ball single through the right side that plated two more runs and broke the game open. Finally, a wild pitch brought in Seaver Whalen from third with the last run of the inning. When the dust settled, Bowling Green had jumped in front 6-1.

The TinCaps got one run back in the eighth on a Chris Given single to left then mounted another comeback in the ninth inning. Marcano led off with a fly ball to the gap in right-center and never stopped running, reaching third easily for a triple. Blake Hunt followed and bounced a ground ball to the hole between third and short for an infield, bringing in Marcano to make it 6-3. Curry then drew a walk to bring the tying run to the plate. After a pair of ground balls brought in one run, Jawuan Harris stepped to the plate with a runner on third and two outs. While he was up, Curry scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to one run and then Harris singled sharply to left to put the tying run on base. Kelvin Alarcon then got hit by a slider on an 0-2 pitch, giving Givin a chance to be the hero. The newest TinCap struck out swinging to end the game and a second straight Fort Wayne ninth-inning rally fell a run short.

Player of the Game: Omar Cruz

Cruz has been arguably Fort Wayne's hottest pitcher recently and he turned in another terrific start tonight, going five shutout innings, striking out six, walking none and giving up only three hits. In his last four starts, Cruz has given up one earned run in 21 2/3 innings (0.42 ERA) with 22 strikeouts and four walks. 

Facts and Figures

The series split makes this the first series at Parkview Field the TinCaps did not win since July 4-5 against the Lake County Captains. ... Dwanya Williams-Sutton came in leading the Midwest League in OBP at .409 and went 1 for 4 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored. ... Curry went 2 for 3 with two walks, extending his hitting streak to eight games and his on-base streak to 12 games. He has four straight multi-hit games and is hitting exactly .300 this season with the TinCaps. ... Marcano had a double and triple, his third three-bagger of the season. ... The TinCaps bullpen had pitched 14 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in this series before Coleman's and Henry's struggles in the seventh. Bowling Green sent 10 hitters to the plate in that seventh. ... Skender went 1 for 3 with a walk and is hitting .327 with Fort Wayne. ... Givin started his Fort Wayne career 0 for 13, but picked up his first hit in the eighth, driving in Williams-Sutton. 

What's Next?

The TinCaps open their final road trip of the season Wednesday, beginning a three-game series against the Dayton Dragons. They'll also play a four-game series on the road against the West Michigan Whitecaps beginning on Saturday, before returning to Parkview Field for the last homestand of the year on Aug. 28. Efrain Contreras (5-5, 3.84 ERA) will start the series-opener against Dayton. 

dsinn@jg.net