FORT WAYNE, Ind. – No other game in the 22-year history of Fort Wayne professional baseball lasted as long as Wednesday’s did between the TinCaps and visiting Burlington Bees. In an 18-inning, five-hour forty-five minute game, the Bees prevailed, scoring two runs in the top of the 18th to win the marathon contest.
Burlington (7-5) right fielder Ranyelmy Mendoza homered in the second inning off of Fort Wayne (4-8) starter Payton Baskette, giving the Bees a 1-0 lead. The game cruised along into the sixth, when the TinCaps got on the board. Mallex Smith, who went 0-for-8 in the game, walked and moved to third on an errant pickoff attempt by Burlington starter Ryan Etsell, later scoring on another failed pickoff attempt by catcher Stephen McGee. Later in the frame, Fernando Perez doubled in outfielder Ronnie Richardson, giving the TinCaps a 2-1 lead.
The Bees claimed two runs in the seventh, and the TinCaps one more in the eighth, leaving the game tied at three, which was the score at the end of nine frames.
Both offenses became anemic once bonus baseball got underway. Fort Wayne, which committed six errors, one shy of the franchise high, had just one hit in the first five extra innings, and finished the game 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position. Bees pitchers issued seven walks (two intentional) to the TinCaps in extras. Burlington threatened by putting runners in scoring position in the 11th, 12th, and 14th, but did not convert any of those chances.
The first scoring post-Dustin Peterson’s eighth-inning RBI single came in the 16th when Mark Shannon, who began the game in center field, laced a hard grounder off of TinCaps second baseman Josh VanMeter, plating a run.
Mother Nature had other plans for this game that didn’t involve it ending in the 16th, as she blinded Burlington right fielder Mendoza. Richardson dumped a two-out, two-strike single in front of him, and then Richardson hit a pop-fly to right that Mendoza lost in the sun, allowing Richardson to score from first.
Both teams traded runs in the 17th before Burlington capped it off with two in the 18th. The winning and losing “pitchers,” in addition to the one credited with the save, were all position players. Shannon pitched three innings and earned the win, while Richardson gave up the two 18th-inning runs and took the loss. The save went to Ryan Dalton, who began the game at first base for Burlington.
The previous longest game in TinCaps history by time was played April 7, 1995, at Memorial Stadium between the Fort Wayne Wizards and the Michigan Battle Cats (now the Great Lakes Loons) in the home opener of that campaign. That game lasted five hours, thirteen minutes and went 18 innings.
The TinCaps homestand continues Thursday with a 7:05 p.m. game against the Peoria Chiefs, the Midwest League affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The scheduled starters are Pete Kelich for Fort Wayne and Jimmy Reed for the Chiefs. The game can be seen on XFINITY 81 and heard on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com.