FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Maybe it’s a good thing. The TinCaps have their back against the wall again. Fort Wayne lost to the Lake County Captains, 5-1, Saturday night at Parkview Field in Game 1 of the best-of-three Eastern Division Championship Series. The TinCaps now need to win Games 2 and 3 on the road in order to advance to the Midwest League Championship Series.
It was a tough turnaround for the TinCaps on Saturday. On Friday night, Fort Wayne beat West Michigan on the road in a decisive Game 3 of the Eastern Division Semifinals. But thanks in part to a 1 hour, 44-minute rain delay Friday, that game didn’t end until close to midnight. It was nearly 4:00 a.m. when the TinCaps arrived back to Parkview Field Saturday morning. Some 14 hours or so later, they were on the field for first pitch against the Captains, who had swept South Bend in the first round and had Friday off.
Despite that adversity, Fort Wayne scored first Saturday. But it was a short-lived lead.
Trea Turner led off the bottom of the first inning with a double against Luis Lugo. Ronnie Richardson advanced Turner to third with a sacrifice bunt and two batters later, he scored on a misplayed grounder to Captains shortstop Ivan Castillo.
The 1-0 TinCaps lead was gone a half-inning later. Lake County put up two unearned runs of their own in the top of the second. In the third, the visitors scored three off Jeffery Enloe.
Fort Wayne relievers Erik Cabrera, Tyler Wood, and Bryan Verbitsky did their part with 6 2/3 scoreless innings. Offensively, though, the TinCaps never found a rhythm at the plate. Fort Wayne struck out 13 times — nine times against Lugo in five innings — and managed only five hits. Two of those hits came in the first and two in the ninth, meaning the TinCaps had only one hit and three baserunners from the second through the eighth.
A crowd of 1,940 supported the TinCaps on short notice Saturday. That raised Parkview Field’s overall attendance in 2014 to a record 411,028. The number, which counts both the regular season and postseason, surpasses the 410,458 fans who visited Parkview Field in 2013.
Game 2 of the Eastern Division Championship Series is set for Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. at Classic Park in Eastlake, Ohio. The TinCaps, who won six of their last seven regular season games just to make the playoffs, are slated to start Ronald Herrera against Lake County’s Dace Kime. The game can be heard on ESPN Radio 1380, TinCaps.com, and the TuneIn Radio app.