It's been difficult to upstage a Joey Cantillo start at Parkview Field this season.
The 19-year-old left-hander, who leads the league in ERA and strikeouts, was dominant again Monday night against the Cedar Rapids Kernels, but Dwanya Williams-Sutton put together an even more noteworthy performance.
The TinCaps right fielder was hit by a pitch four times, including twice with the bases loaded, boosting him into the league lead in getting plunked with 19 this season, and Fort Wayne won 10-2 in front of an announced crowd of 6,614.
Williams-Sutton was already third in the league in hit-by-pitches coming into the game and got plunked in the second, fourth, fifth and seventh to move into the league lead by two. He is now third in all of professional baseball and is closing in on the Fort Wayne franchise record, which stands at 23. He finished 0 for 1 with the four hit-by-pitches and a walk.
“My arm's hurting,” said Williams-Sutton of the limb that took all four rogue baseballs. “I'm gonna go in the training room and get some ice on it. ... Good thing we've got an off day (today) because there's no way I'd be able to play.”
Williams-Sutton insisted that he does not lean in to pitches and was not trying to get hit. Three of the pitches that hit him were off-speed and he nearly got hit again in his final at-bat in the eighth inning.
“(Cedar Rapids catcher Alex Isola) was like, 'Man, we're not trying to hit you,' ” Williams-Sutton said, laughing. “That was the third time and then my fourth time he was like, 'Bro, I promise we're not trying to hit you.' Then the last time (in the eighth inning), he was like, 'Bro, that was a changeup, bro, I promise we're not trying to hit you.'
“I told him it was all good, I'm not a violent person, I don't want to fight nobody.”
It took plenty to outdo Cantillo, who tied a career-high with 10 strikeouts in six innings of five-hit ball. He gave up two runs, but cruised through his final few innings, striking out five combined in the fifth and sixth.
Cantillo hit 94 mph, a season-high, in the sixth and finished his night with a swinging strikeout, pumping his fist and shouting as he walked off the mound.
“Obviously, it was great to have that home crowd, I haven't pitched in front of these guys since (June 26),” Cantillo said of his emotion at the end. “They packed the stadium, big crowd, which was awesome.
“Just the way things started, giving up those two runs (in the first three innings) ticked me off a little bit. ... Big moment there in the sixth inning. ... I let everything out there. It was fun.”
He got the win to improve to 7-3.
The TinCaps piled up runs in the early innings, scoring three times in the second, twice in the third and three more times in the fifth. Walks were a huge part of Fort Wayne's offensive effort, as the TinCaps took eight free passes, including two with the bases loaded.
Tucupita Marcano had one of those run-scoring walks and finished with four RBI, a double and a run scored. Michael Curry and Tyler Benson each had three hits, and Curry scored three times.
The win clinched the series for the TinCaps, their second series victory in a row. This is the first time they've won two series in a row in the second half of the season after taking the final two sets of the first half. They finish their six-game homestand 4-2.