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The Journal Gazette

  • Dylan Sinn | Journal Gazette TinCaps pitcher Carlos Guarate made his Midwest League debut Saturday, giving up five hits and one run while striking out five.

  • Dylan Sinn | Journal Gazette TinCaps pitcher Carlos Guarate, 18, made his Midwest League debut Saturday, pitching four innings and giving up one run while striking out five and giving up five hits.

Sunday, September 01, 2019 1:00 am

TinCaps 9 Lansing 2

Big inning propels TinCaps past Lugnuts

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

TinCaps vs. Lansing

Where: Parkview Field

When: 6:05 p.m.

Pitchers: Omar Cruz (TinCaps) vs. Cobi Johnson (Lugnuts)

TV: Xfinity 81

Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM

The TinCaps' season is winding down, but Fort Wayne is still making life difficult for opposing pitchers. 

The denizens of Parkview Field bashed a pair of home runs in an eight-run second inning Saturday and won the opener of the final series of the year, beating the Lansing Lugnuts 9-2 in front of an announced crowd of 6,035.

“These guys are playing hard, finishing the season strong,” said Jhonny Carvajal, who is managing Fort Wayne in the last week of the season. “This is the goal, to finish the season strong, because it's not over yet. We're still playing, we still have a couple more games.”

The TinCaps (62-74, 29-39 second half) got those eight runs in the second inning on just three hits. The first hit was a two-run homer from shortstop Justin Lopez, a 384-foot blast to right that extended Lopez's team-best home run total to 13.

Next came a two-run double from catcher Jose Lezama, which he sprayed down the left-field line to make it 4-0. Those were Lezama's first RBI with the TinCaps since he got called up on Aug. 22.

Fort Wayne chased Lugnuts starting pitcher Troy Miller after just 12/3 innings and reliever Randy Pondler had to face Dwanya Williams-Sutton with the bases loaded. The powerful outfielder, who leads the league in OBP, fell behind in the count, but on an 0-2 pitch rocketed a grand slam 381 feet to left-center for his third home run in the last three games and ninth of the season.

“(Pondler) threw me three straight changeups,” said Williams-Sutton, who had never hit a grand slam in his pro career. “I knew that if he threw me that pitch again, I was going to put a good swing on it. I didn't know it was going to go over (the fence), but I was like, 'I'm going to drive in some runs right here if he throws me the same pitch.' It worked out well.”

The 8-0 lead was plenty for 18-year-old TinCaps starter Carlos Guarate, who was making his Midwest League debut. Guarate, working at a brisk pace, was in control in his four innings of work, striking out five, giving up just one run on five hits and walking one.

“I loved what I saw (from Carlos),” said pitching coach Jackson Quezada, who worked with Guarate in the Dominican Republic in 2018. “He was competing, he was attacking the hitters, fastball with a good hammer (curveball), getting them off balance and he did a great job.

“He always works (quickly). He gets on the mound and he goes fast. His game tempo is great.”

The Venezuela native hit 92 mph with his fastball and worked in a solid curveball on a regular basis. He is the second 18-year-old to debut for the TinCaps this week, joining left-hander Jesus Gonzalez, who made his first start Thursday. The pair combined to give up two runs in nine innings.

The Fort Wayne bullpen never let Lansing back in the game, twirling five solid innings. Right-hander Dylan Coleman pitched a season-long three innings, surrendering only one unearned run and whiffing three to earn the victory. It was his fifth straight appearance without giving up an earned run.