EASTLAKE, Ohio – Fort Wayne fought off snowflakes, an early four-run deficit and a late three-run margin to tie the game in the eighth inning and again in the ninth before falling to the Lake County Captains, 8-7, in 10 innings in the season opener on a frigid night Thursday at Classic Park.
With temperatures in the 30s and a wintry mix steadily falling, the TinCaps (0-1) and Captains (1-0) traded zeroes until the bottom of the sixth. After dropping behind 4-0 in the sixth, Fort Wayne knotted the game 4-4 in the eighth. Trailing again 7-4 heading to the top of the ninth, the TinCaps pushed across three more and forced extra innings.
But in the bottom of the 10th, Lake County first baseman Anthony Miller rapped a walk-off double to right field to send everyone home three-and-a-half hours after the first pitch.
TinCaps catcher Austin Allen, the Padres’ fourth-round draft pick in June, went 4-for-5 with a double and three singles. First baseman Brad Zunica (3-for-5, one RBI) and left fielder Rod Boykin (2-for-6) also notched multi-hit games, as did third baseman Ty France (2-for-4), who rocketed a two-run home run to right field with two outs in the top of the ninth to tie the game, 7-7.
TinCaps right-handed starter Walker Lockett cruised through five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, walking none and fanning six. Left-hander Taylor Cox allowed just one earned run over 2.2 innings.
In a scoreless game, Fort Wayne right-hander Emmanuel Ramirez relieved Lockett to start the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Captains left fielder Silento Sayles reached on an error. Five more consecutive Captains reached, as Lake County pushed across four runs to grab a 4-0 lead before Cox induced a double-play ball on one pitch.
The TinCaps sent seven to the plate in the top of the seventh and grabbed three runs back, cutting the deficit to 4-3. Right fielder Jhonatan Peña singled to right field to score France, and Allen scored on a Lake County throwing error. Boykin’s fielder’s choice plated Peña.
Fort Wayne then tied the game, 4-4, in the top of the eighth. Lake County shortstop Willi Castro’s error with the bases loaded allowed TinCaps center fielder Michael Gettys to touch home.
But in the bottom of the eighth, Lake County capitalized on an infield single and a Fort Wayne error, as Miller clubbed a two-run double after third baseman Yonathan Mendoza’s go-ahead single — pushing the Captains up 7-4.
In the ninth, Zunica sliced the deficit to 7-5 with an RBI single before France’s long ball leveled the game at 7-7.
Fort Wayne aims for its first win of the season Friday when it squares off at Lake County at 6:30 p.m. TinCaps right-hander Austin Smith, San Diego’s second-round pick in June, will oppose Captains righty Casey Shane. The game can be heard on ESPN 1380, 100.9 FM, TinCapsRadio.com and the TuneIn Radio App.