It has been close to two months since the TinCaps were able to break out the brooms.
They had another chance to complete their first sweep of the second half Friday at a packed Parkview Field, but a former Indiana Hoosier ruined the party.
Matt Lloyd, an All-American in 2018 at Indiana, ripped a three-run homer in the second inning, and the TinCaps left nine runners on base in 6-1 loss to the Dayton Dragons in front of an announced crowd of 8,009.
TinCaps starter Cullen Dana retired the first five batters he faced, but a walk and a single put two runners on in the second inning. That brought up Lloyd, who was called up from rookie ball Thursday and was making his Midwest League debut.
The former Hoosiers utilityman wasted no time. The first pitch he saw in the league was a fastball on the inner third and he unloaded on it, yanking a home run 406 feet to right field to give the Dragons (49-68, 21-26 second half) a 3-0 lead that they held all night.
“I was just trying to be on time and hit a ball up the middle,” Lloyd said. “I happened to catch it out front a little bit and it backspun out of the ballpark. ... Lofty (catcher Morgan Lofstrom) came in and was like, 'Was that a changeup?' and I honestly have no idea, I kind of blacked out there.”
Lloyd finished 2 for 4 and has six home runs overall this season. He was a three-time All-Big Ten selection and led the conference in home runs in 2019 with 17 as Indiana won the Big Ten regular-season title.
“It felt kind of right, (playing) my first game in A-ball in the state of Indiana,” said Lloyd, who is from Alberta, Canada. “It felt pretty cool, especially walking around today, we went to the mall because we had to check out (before going back to Dayton) and just seeing IU logos everywhere and stuff made me feel a little bit more at home.”
The TinCaps put runners on base in each of the first five innings but couldn't score. They loaded the bases with one out in the third inning, but second baseman Lee Solomon grounded sharply into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Solomon later drove in Fort Wayne's only run on a fielder's choice in the ninth inning. He also struck out looking on a borderline pitch with two on and two out in the fourth.
TinCaps catcher Juan Fernandez was an all-around star, going 2 for 3 with a walk at the plate and cutting down a run at home by scrambling quickly to the backstop and firing the ball to pitcher Franklin Van Gurp after a pitch had gotten past Fernandez. The backup catcher is hitting .281 this season despite inconsistent at-bats.
“You wouldn't know he's the backup by how he goes about his business,” manager Anthony Contreras said of Fernandez. “He's running around, smiling, he's having a good time. That's his personality trait that is infectious.
“You can go out there and know that he's going to give 100% every single game, regardless of whether he's playing or not.”
The TinCaps finished their seven-game homestand, their longest remaining at Parkview Field, at 5-2. They are five games out of the Eastern Division's final playoff spot.