FORT WAYNE, Ind. – On a chilly and damp night in the Summit City, the TinCaps dropped their first game of the 2014 season to the Great Lakes Loons, 9-0. A hearty crowd of 4,447 enjoyed Parkview Field’s Opening Night entertainment, while enduring the weather.
The TinCaps faced phenomenal pitching all night long, beginning with Loons starter Jonathan Martinez. The 19-year-old from Venezuela didn’t seem to mind the temperatures in the 30s, as he struck out 11 Fort Wayne batters across six innings. Of Martinez’s 77 pitches, 61 were strikes. Outside of a double by third baseman Dustin Peterson in the first inning and a bunt single by center fielder Mallex Smith in the third, the TinCaps couldn’t manage any base runners against the right-hander.
Martinez’s successors were impressive as well. Francisco Villa fanned three in two innings of relief and Mark Pope K-ed two in the ninth.
Meanwhile, Great Lakes also thrived at the plate. The visitors scored an unearned run against Fort Wayne starter Walker Weickel in the top of the second inning, and then seized control of the game with a four-run third. Loons first baseman Justin Chigbogu provided the biggest blast — a towering two-run home run that made it 5-0. Great Lakes increased its lead with another run in the fourth, followed by three more in the sixth.
Jesmuel Valentín — the son of TinCaps 2012 and 2013 manager José — shined for the Loons with a two-hit game, including an RBI double. The 19-year-old second baseman also made a highlight reel catch in foul territory down the right-field line in the fourth inning when he caught a Peterson popup over the railing as his momentum led him to flip into the crowd.
The TinCaps and Loons continue their four-game series at Parkview Field Friday night at 7:05. Left-handed pitcher Payton Baskette is set to make his Fort Wayne debut against Great Lakes right-hander Zachary Bird.