Comstock Park, Michigan – Friday night Fort Wayne shut out West Michigan, 4-0. On Sunday afternoon at Fifth Third Ballpark, the Whitecaps nearly returned the not-so-pleasant favor with a 2-1 win over the TinCaps in the rubber game of a three-game series.
West Michigan (12-11) starter Kevin Ziomek kept Fort Wayne off the scoreboard for the first eight innings on Sunday. The former Vanderbilt Commodore, who was selected 58th overall by the Detroit Tigers in 2013, had never thrown more than five frames in seven previous outings as a pro, but you wouldn’t have known that Sunday. Ziomek (1-2) limited the TinCaps to three hits and walked none while striking out six.
The left-handed Ziomek’s performance overshadowed what was also a career outing for his counterpart, Adrian De Horta (0-1). Fort Wayne’s starter set a career high for innings pitched, too, with five. De Horta, though impressive, couldn’t quite keep pace with Ziomek.
The Whitecaps scored twice in the bottom of the second inning, aided by two TinCaps errors. Dominic Ficociello and Ben Verlander — the younger brother of Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander — hit back-to-back singles to begin the home second. Former TinCap Wynton Bernard laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third base, respectively. A De Horta wild pitch scored Ficociello to give West Michigan a 1-0 lead. Verlander advanced to third when Josh VanMeter committed a throwing error on a groundball hit by Willy Adames. Bennett Pickar brought Verlander home to make it 2-0 with an RBI-groundout to third.
Fort Wayne (9-13), which had 14 straight batters retired from the third through seventh innings, finally scored in the top of the ninth. With Ziomek’s day done after 91 pitches, Montreal Robertson came out of the bullpen. The hard-throwing righty struck out two of the first three batters he faced, sandwiched around a walk of Dustin Peterson. Down to their final out, Fernando Perez delivered a clutch double to the right-field corner that plated Peterson, and gave Fort Wayne life. Franchy Cordero pinch-ran for Perez and made it to third on a wild pitch. But pinch-hitter Dane Phillips grounded out to second to end the ninth-inning rally.
In the losing cause, Fort Wayne reliever Tony Rizzotti tossed three innings of scoreless relief. The 2 hour, 18-minute game saw the two sides go a combined 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
After a seven-game road trip, the TinCaps return to action at Parkview Field on Monday night at 7:05 against the Great Lakes Loons. Right-handed pitcher Bryan Verbitsky is scheduled to make his Fort Wayne debut, countered by Great Lakes righty James Campbell. The game can be heard on The Fan 1380 and seen on XFINITY Channel 81.