FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Fernando Perez hit a grand slam to help the TinCaps overcome an eight-run deficit and Trea Turner provided a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th to lift Fort Wayne to an exhilarating 12-11 win over the Lake County Captains on Thursday night at a sold-out Parkview Field. The TinCaps came to bat in the seventh trailing 11-3 before rallying for the game’s final nine runs in front of 8,103 fans.
With the win, Fort Wayne moved in front of Lake County in the standings and back into a tie for the Midwest League Eastern Division’s second-half wild card.
“It was just an overall great game,” Perez said. “It was pretty tough for us to come back, but I’m glad we did. It’s great for the team, especially now that we are playing really good ball and it gives us confidence. We feel confident that we can win any game.”
Turner’s single through the left side of the Captains’ infield scored Henry Charles from third base with one out on the ninth pitch of his at-bat against Alexi Parades (3-4). Turner said it was the first walk-off hit of his career at any level. He was rewarded after the game by his teammates with a shaving cream pie to the face.
That moment of jubilation became possible when Perez hit his first career grand slam off the Tuthill 400 Club in straightaway-center field. It came on a first-pitch fastball from Parades with two outs.
“I said to myself, ‘You cannot just let this opportunity go away,” the infielder said of his mentality going into the at-bat. “I didn’t realize I tied the game. I was just trying to get a couple runs in.”
Ryan Butler (1-0), who like Turner is a 2014 draft pick, earned the first win of his professional career with a scoreless ninth and 10th on the mound.
The TinCaps started their comeback in the seventh when Ryan Miller led off with a solo home run. It was his team-leading 11th of the season. Fort Wayne (22-24, 52-63) scored three more runs in the frame thanks in part to two Lake County (21-24, 48-67) errors, a Josh VanMeter RBI-double, and a run-scoring single from Franmil Reyes.
At the start of the night, it seemed as though a comeback would never be necessary for the TinCaps. Turner led off the bottom of the first with a triple and scored one batter later on a sacrifice fly by Perez. Then Fort Wayne expanded its lead to 3-0 in the second on a two-run homer by Charles to make it 3-0.
The Captains, though, would strike for 11 unanswered runs. The visitors scored five times against Jimmi Brasoban in the top of the third. Over his last three starts, Brasoban had gone 11 2/3 consecutive innings without allowing a run before that. Lake County added another run in the fourth, two in the sixth, and three in the third to go up 11-3. Unlucky starter Jordan Milbrath settled in after falling behind for six innings of four-hit, no-walk ball.
Lake County out-hit Fort Wayne, 19-12. On an idyllic night with the temperature in the 70s, both teams launched three home runs.
The victory was Fort Wayne’s largest come-from-behind effort since July 4, 2010, when the TinCaps also erased an eight-run margin to win 12-11 against Bowling Green.
Fort Wayne and Lake County play game two of their four-game series at Parkview Field on Friday night at 7:05. Right-hander Cody Hebner is scheduled to start for the TinCaps against left-hander Anderson Polanco. The game can be heard on ESPN Radio 1380, TinCaps.com, and the TuneIn Radio app. It can also be viewed on XFINITY Channel 81.