Fort Wayne, Indiana — The TinCaps earned their first win of the 2014 season on Friday night at Parkview Field with a 5-2 victory over the Great Lakes Loons. Josh VanMeter helped key the Fort Wayne win with three hits, two runs, and a run batted in.
After being limited to three hits in nine innings on Opening Night, Fort Wayne matched that output in the first inning Friday. VanMeter’s first hit as a TinCap was a one-out double to center field. The next batter, third baseman Dustin Peterson, smacked a double of his own off the center-field fence to drive home VanMeter for Fort Wayne’s first run of the season. The TinCaps extended their lead to 2-0 in that first inning thanks to a run-scoring single by shortstop Franchy Cordero.
Meanwhile, on the mound, Fort Wayne (1-1) starter Payton Baskette retired the first six Great Lakes batters he faced. The 20-year-old left-hander struck out four in 4 1/3 innings of work.
Though the Loons got on the board in the road third, the TinCaps responded in the bottom half of the inning. Center fielder Mallex Smith doubled and stole third base. VanMeter followed with a popup to shallow left field that — with winds gusting more than 20 miles per hour — proved problematic for the Great Lakes defense. The ball dropped down for a Van Meter single and his first RBI in the Midwest League. That gave Fort Wayne a 3-1 lead.
The TinCaps hit five doubles Friday, including an RBI two-bagger by first baseman Luis Tejada in the last of the fourth to extend the home side’s advantage to 4-1. Peterson, who finished a home run shy of the cycle, added a triple in the fifth to put Fort Wayne ahead 5-1
Perhaps the turning point of the game came in the top of the fifth inning with the score 4-1. With a Malcolm Holland single and a Jacob Scavuzzo walk, the Loons chased Baskette from the game. Right-hander Matt Chabot came out of the TinCaps bullpen to face the heart of the Great Lakes order. The pride of Riverside, California, was up for the challenge as he struck out both the Loons’ number three hitter Kyle Farmer and cleanup batter Webster Rivas. Chabot also fanned all three batters he faced in the sixth inning.
Tayron Guerrero and Nick Mutz combined to toss the final three frames for the TinCaps without yielding an earned run.
The TinCaps and Loons reunite at Parkview Field on Saturday evening at 5:05. Fort Wayne is set to start righty Pete Kelich, countered by Great Lakes right-hander James Campbell. The game can be heard on The Fan 1380 and seen on XFINITY Channel 81.