In the first two games of their series against the South Bend Cubs, the TinCaps rallied late but fell short. Tonight, they rallied again and this time made it count.

Trailing by a run entering the ninth, Jarryd Dale turned that deficit into a victory with a two-run triple that propelled the TinCaps to a 6-5 victory over the Cubs and drove the crowd of 6,313 into a frenzy at Parkview Field.

Fort Wayne first baseman Carlos Luis, who was called up from Low-A Lake Elsinore earlier in the week and was making his TinCaps debut, got the winning rally started with a shift-beating infield single to the left side. Two batters late, Agustin Ruiz shot a single through the hole between third and short to put the winning run on first.

That brought Dale to the plate and after taking a ball he laced a fly ball down the right-field line. Right-fielder Jonathan Sierra made a diving attempt at it, but it landed just out of his reach. He picked it up and fired it to the infield and second baseman Fabian Pertuz relayed it home as Ruiz raced for the plate. The slugger, not known for his speed, slid to the outside of the plate and beat the tag by split-second pushing Fort Wayne (42-57, 15-18 second half) to a triumph.

Pertuz got the scoring started in the opening inning. TinCaps starter Ryan Bergert touched 95 mph against the first batter of the game, but on a 2-2 count to Pertuz, he unleashed a flat, 92 mph heater over the inner-middle of the plate and the 21-year-old infielder ripped it on a line over the wall in left for a 1-0 lead.

Pertuz struck again in the third inning. After getting burned with the fastball the first time he faced the Cub slugger, Bergert threw Pertuz a 3-2 slider in his second opportunity against him, but the result was the same: a line-drive home run to left. This time, the solo shot made it 2-0. Bergert has given up at least one home run in eight straight starts and has surrendered 10 long balls in that stretch.

South Bend doubled its advantage in the fourth on back-to-back doubles and the run-scoring single from Pertuz, all off Bergert, who was pulled after giving up four runs on eight hits and a walk in four innings. He struck out six. Pertuz drove in four runs after failing to notch any RBI in 10 previous games since July 16.

The TinCaps could not get anything going all night against South Bend starting pitcher Luis Devers, one of the best pitchers in the Midwest League in recent weeks. Devers tops out at 92 mph with his fastball, but possesses an excellent 81-82 mph changeup with significant downward tilt and he bamboozled Fort Wayne with it tonight, whiffing six in five shutout innings and giving up only two hits and a walk. In six appearances (three starts) at High-A, Devers has thrown 26 1/3 innings and given up one earned run, good for an 0.34 ERA. 

The TinCaps stranded a couple of runners in the seventh, but finally broke through offensively in the seventh. After walks to Lucas Dunn and Luis, second baseman Olivier Basabe ripped a hard ground ball down the first-base line and into the right-field corner. Both runs scored and a misplay in the corner allowed Basabe to move to third with a triple. Ruiz followed with an RBI groundout to pull Fort Wayne within 4-3.

The Cubs notched an insurance run in the eighth after Sam Keating surrendered a couple of walks and a single and Pertuz hit a slow roller to third to make it 5-3. 

Fort Wayne got that run right back in the bottom of the frame when left-fielder Albert Fabian, who was also called up from Low-A earlier this week, turned around a 94 mph fastball for a solo home run the other way to left. It was Fabian's third home run in his last six games across two levels and 13th of the season. 

Outside of Keating's struggles, the Fort Wayne bullpen was excellent. Right-hander Nick Thwaits cruised through three shutout innings with three strikeouts and extended his streak of consecutive scoreless frames to 10 1/3 over his last five outings. After Keating loaded the bases in the eighth, righty Edwuin Bencomo settled things down, retiring the side with minimal damage and then working a scoreless ninth with a pair of whiffs to keep Fort Wayne in the game.

TinCaps outfielder Joshua Mears went 0 for 4 and saw his seven-game hitting streak snapped.

The matchup was the first of three Copa De Diversión games at Parkview Field this weekend, in which the TinCaps and Cubs become the Manzanas Luchadores ("Fighting Apples") and Cabritos Maldichos ("Cursed Goats") to celebrate the Hispanic and Latino communities. The festivities tonight included TinCaps running on to the field holding the flags of their home countries on the way out to the field, Spanish vocabulary lessons for baseball terms on the scoreboard between innings and specialty uniforms, which for the TinCaps were bright green on the front, red on the back and featured white sleeves.

What's Next?

These teams are back in action Saturday at Parkview Field and will play a doubleheader in order to make up Wednesday's rainout. First pitch of Game 1 will be at 5:35 p.m. and the second contest will start half an hour after the end of the first. Both games will be seven innings. The TinCaps will send left-hander Noel Vela (6-6, 3.59 ERA) to the mound in Game 1. Vela is 2-1 with a 1.96 ERA in his last four starts. Game 2 will see another lefty, Jackson Wolf (5-6, 4.40 ERA), working for Fort Wayne after striking out nine in five innings in his last start. The Cubs will counter with right-handers Kohl Franklin (1-6, 8.52 ERA) and Richard Gallardo (6-6, 4.05 ERA at Low-A).

College Sportswriter

Dylan Sinn is a College Sportswriter, covering mainly Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame, as well local colleges in northeast Indiana and Fort Wayne TinCaps baseball. He is a graduate of Indiana University and an AP Top 25 football voter.