CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — They say pitching and defense wins, and for the Fort Wayne TinCaps on Sunday afternoon, that formula worked to a tee. Starter Jeffery Enloe, along with relievers Eric Yardley and Ryan Butler, led the TinCaps to their second shutout win in the last three days, 2-0, over the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
Enloe (2-3) stymied the Kernels for 5 1/3 innings without an overpowering fastball or a devastating breaking ball. He only had one strikeout. Instead, the left-hander relied on changing speeds and consistently throwing first-pitch strikes to limit Cedar Rapids (15-14, 46-53) to four hits and no walks. Through the first five innings, the Kernels’ only hits came on a bunt and a groundball that was nearly fielded by second baseman Josh VanMeter.
Meanwhile, at the plate, Fort Wayne (11-18, 41-57) found a way to manufacture two runs. Cedar Rapids starter Ryan Eades (5-11) only walked one batter in six innings, but it came back to bite him. Jake Bauers walked to begin the top of the second inning. After Ronnie Richardson and Nick Schulz both singled to load the bases, Henry Charles grounded out to second, scoring Bauers for the game’s first run.
The TinCaps increased their lead to 2-0 in the third. Trea Turner led off with a double and scored after tagging up on flyouts by both Dustin Peterson and Fernando Perez. Turner has hit safely in each of his first seven games in the Midwest League since debuting last Sunday. He has four doubles and a triple.
The home team’s best threat to score came in the bottom of the sixth when Michael Quesada and J.D. Williams — the Kernels’ eight and nine hitters — led off with singles. Engelb Vielma’s sacrifice bunt attempt was smoothly fielded by Enloe who threw to third base for the force-out of Quesada. At that point, Yardley came on in relief and proceeded to retire the next two batters to end the inning.
Yardley also tossed no-hit frames in the seventh and eighth innings before handing the ball to Butler, who struck out the side in the ninth. While Yardley, a side-armer, didn’t touch 90 miles per hour on the radar gun, Butler’s fastball was clocked as high as 101 miles per hour.
In addition to phenomenal pitching, the TinCaps were also as good as they’ve been all year defensively. Most notably, during the bottom of the third, Turner backhanded a groundball deep in the hole at short off the bat of Quesada. With his momentum bringing him into left field, the 21-year-old made a young Derek Jeter-esque leaping throw across his body to first for the out. Fort Wayne also turned a 5-4-3 double play in the third and didn’t commit an error on the day.
The game was played in 2 hours, 14 minutes. It was the TinCaps’ fourth shutout victory of the season. Fort Wayne has won six of its last eight games.
The TinCaps now look to take the rubber match of their three-game series with the Kernels on Monday afternoon at 1:05. In the finale of a six-game road trip, left-hander Max Fried is scheduled to start for Fort Wayne against Chih-Wei Hu. The game can be heard on ESPN Radio 1380, TinCaps.com, and the TuneIn Radio app.