MIDLAND, Mich. – Facing the possibility of a four-game sweep at the hands of the Great Lakes Loons, the Fort Wayne TinCaps earned a 2-1, 11-inning win at Dow Diamond Thursday night. Josh VanMeter scored the game-winning run on a passed ball, helping the TinCaps defeat the Loons for the second time in eight tries.
Fort Wayne (8-11) starter Pete Kelich turned in a strong outing, going 5 2/3 innings and striking out nine batters, besting his own mark for starters this season. He was given a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Mallex Smith scored the game’s first run. The TinCaps center fielder walked to start the game, stole second, and eventually scored on a ground out by Dustin Peterson.
Great Lakes (13-7) issued its one-run retort in the bottom of the third against Kelich. Shortstop Dylan Moyer, who led off the inning, grounded to shortstop, but Franchy Cordero threw well wide of the first-base bag, committing his team-leading 11th error of the season. Moyers ended up at second base and scored three batters later on a Kyle Farmer RBI double.
For the second straight night the TinCaps offense did not produce a bevy of hits, limited to only six for the evening. In the 11th, VanMeter and Peterson had back-to-back one-out base hits, which put them at third and second, respectively. The Loons walked Ronnie Richardson, who had come in to pinch-run for Franmil Reyes in the ninth, and elected to face Fernando Perez. He struck out, but the third strike he swung at was a wild pitch charged to Michael Johnson (1-1). The pitch skittered to the backstop, allowing VanMeter to score the go-ahead run.
In the bottom of the 11th, Nick Mutz allowed a leadoff triple to Webster Rivas, which had the potential to be a home run if not for the strong winds blowing in from left field. Mutz proceeded to retire the next three batters in order, stranding the tying run on third, and securing his second save of the season. Reliever Tony Rizzotti (2-1), who pitched a scoreless 10th, earned the win.
Next for the TinCaps is a three-game series against the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Midwest League affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. The first game of the series is scheduled for Friday night at 6:35 p.m. at Fifth Third Ballpark. The scheduled starters are Coby Cowgill for Fort Wayne and Buck Farmer for West Michigan. The game can be heard on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com.