Midland, MI – Tuesday night’s game at Dow Diamond between the TinCaps and the Great Lakes Loons required a good bit of patience. First pitch was delayed by 55 minutes due to rain, Fort Wayne went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and the game didn’t end until nearly midnight-but the TinCaps still found a way to win, 2-1, in twelve innings in the opener of a three-game series.
Franmil Reyes launched his team-leading 10th home run of the season to lead off the 12th inning, giving the TinCaps their first run since the third inning and breaking a tie that had stood since the eighth inning. For Loons reliever Mark Pope (1-3), a former Padres farmhand, who allowed the home run, it was the first longball he’d given up all year. The blast brought the TinCaps back-to-back wins, their fifth in the last six games, and 11th in their last 16.
Fort Wayne (16-21, 46-60) nabbed one run against Great Lakes (17-20, 51-56) starter Greg Harris, and it came in the third. Josh VanMeter singled with one out and the next batter, Trea Turner, doubled him home. For the rest of the five innings Harris was on the hill, he was firmly in control. The righthander accounted for seven of the season-high 17 strikeouts the TinCaps had at the plate.
Harris’ counterpart, Cody Hebner, put the TinCaps in excellent position to hold a one-run lead, as he allowed only three hits over six innings. The righthander, in his fifth start with Fort Wayne this year, walked two and struck out four.
The Loons tied the game in the bottom of the eighth inning against Nick Mutz, who pitched in a TinCaps uniform for the first time since July 13th after returning from Advanced-A Lake Elsinore. Paul Hoenecke, pinch-hitting for catcher Jose Capellan, laced an RBI single to right field, scoring Spencer Navin to tie the game.
Both teams squandered a multitude of opportunities in the late innings, and the Loons even had to send two different pitchers to the plate after using Navin in the eighth to replace then-designated hitter Webster Rivas.
Ultimately it was the superior pitching of Fort Wayne that made the difference. Eric Yardley went 2 2/3 scoreless innings, covering the end of the eighth, the ninth, and the 10th. Josh Richardson (1-1) held the Loons in the 11th and 12th for the victory.
The win for the TinCaps, coupled with a Lake County loss, brings Fort Wayne within 1 ½ games of a wild-card playoff spot.
Game two of the three-game series is scheduled for Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m., with Kyle Lloyd of Fort Wayne set to square off with Brandon Martinez of Great Lakes. The game can be heard on ESPN Radio 1380, TinCaps.com, and via the TuneIn radio app.