The TinCaps gave the game away. Then they got it back.
Fort Wayne second baseman Justin Lopez blooped a ground-rule double down the left-field line with two outs in the 10th inning to bring Ethan Skender home with the winning run in a 5-4 victory in front of an announced crowd of 3,742 at Parkview Field on Thursday that snapped a season-long four-game losing streak.
Lopez came up with two outs and the winning run on second. His high fly ball was surrounded by three Captains (17-16) and third baseman Brayan Rocchio seemed to settle under it, but instead he overran the ball and it fell barely a foot inside the foul line before bounding into the stands for a ground-rule two-bagger.
There was momentary confusion as the TinCaps (14-18) mistook plate umpire Kellen Martin's call of a ground-rule double for a call of a foul ball, but after Martin clarified the decision, Fort Wayne spilled out of the dugout and mobbed Lopez in shallow center field.
“It was a weird play, we didn't know what happened,” Dwanya Williams-Sutton said. “(Lopez) hit the ball in the air and the third baseman runs back and it lands fair and the umpire just comes out screaming and we don't know what he's saying. We're all panicking because we're ready to go home with a win.
“It was scary, but it was fun.”
The TinCaps nearly won the game in regulation innings. With Fort Wayne up 4-3 in the ninth, closer Carter Loewen walked the leadoff hitter then retired the next two. Second baseman Raynel Delgado then lofted a sky-high pop-up to left field. Left fielder Grant Little and center fielder Reinaldo Ilarraza converged, and Little was in position to make the catch, but the ball ticked off his glove and dropped, bringing in the tying run.
“Granted that ball was a skier, it's a twilight sky, but that's no excuse,” manager Anthony Contreras said. “Grant Little and (Ilarraza), they're good defenders out there and we expect them to make those catches.”
Although Little's miscue extended the game in the ninth, Fort Wayne had the lead because of some baserunning wizardry from Little in the seventh. With two outs and Fort Wayne trailing 3-2, Little tried to score from third on a wild pitch. The ball kicked sharply back toward the plate and beat Little by a couple of steps. Instead of sliding into the tag, he danced around it, stepping on the plate to tie the game as pitcher Alec Wisely lunged at him.
Williams-Sutton then doubled to left to bring in Adam Kerner with the go-ahead run.
“I'm very confident at the plate right now,” Williams-Sutton said. “(Wisely) threw one right there, middle-middle, and I put a good swing on it.”
TinCaps starter Matt Waldron pitched six good innings, giving up two runs and striking out seven against only one walk. He went toe-to-toe with Captains starter Logan Allen, who came in as High-A Central's ERA leader.
TinCaps vs. Lake County
When: 7:05 p.m. today
Where: Parkview Field
Pitchers: Gabe Mosser (TinCaps) vs. Tanner Burns (Captains)
TV: Xfinity 81
Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM