The TinCaps returned from a season-long road trip Wednesday and learned once again that there is no place like home.
After playing nine straight games on the road and losing six of the final seven in that span, Ryan Weathers and Fort Wayne made quick work of the Peoria Chiefs in the first of a six-game stretch at Parkview Field.
Weathers worked six innings and earned his first victory since April 16, while Blake Hunt reached base four times and Justin Lopez drove in three runs in a sharp 2-hour, 12-minute 6-2 victory in front of an announced crowd of 4,542.
“After being on the road, the other side of the division, it's good to be back,” Hunt said. “This place (Parkview Field) is home and we love the fans.”
The TinCaps (41-52, 8-17 second half) sent Peoria (34-60, 4-21) to its 10th loss in the last 11 games. The Chiefs have the worst second-half record in the Midwest League.
Weathers got off to a rough start, giving up hits to the game's first two batters and a first-inning run, but then settled in, controlling his fastball and a touching 93 mph with the heater.
The 19-year-old left-hander worked six innings for the first time since April 22 and gave up just two runs on three hits while striking out five and walking one. After those first-inning hits, he did not give up another until Brendan Donovan led off the sixth with a home run, his eighth of the season.
“He had his fastball command back, which was huge,” Hunt said of Weathers. “Then obviously he had all three pitches going, the changeup, the slider. He's able to keep hitters on their toes when he's working all three, so it's good to see him back like that.
“Obviously we've been working on stuff in bullpens and getting back in the groove, so it's good to see it out on the field, in the game.”
The TinCaps took the lead for good in the bottom of the first with a couple of runs on a passed ball and a Justin Lopez RBI groundout, but they broke the game open with a four-run third.
The first five Fort Wayne hitters singled in the third inning, with Hunt ripping an RBI hit to center and Lopez following with a two-run knock to make it 5-1.
The TinCaps are 6 for 14 with runners in scoring in position over their last two games after hitting just .162 in such situations over their previous 11 contests.
“They've been working hard to try to get something rolling,” manager Anthony Contreras said. “During the road trip it was hard for us to string some hits together. So that's encouraging to see.
“We want these guys having competitive (at-bats) and to get back-to-back-to-back-to-back knocks like that and string some things together is huge for their confidence right now.”
Ethan Skender and Agustin Ruiz each had two hits and scored twice, while Hunt singled and walked three times.
The TinCaps' bullpen slammed the door after Weathers exited. Cody Tyler pitched two perfect innings and Jose Quezada turned in a 1-2-3 ninth to complete the victory. Overall, Fort Wayne retired the final 12 Chiefs hitters in a row and 19 of the final 20.
TinCaps vs. Peoria
Where: Parkview Field
When: 7:05 p.m.
Pitchers: Sam Keating (TinCaps) vs. Colin Schmid (Chiefs)