MIDLAND, Mich. – Fort Wayne pushed past the Great Lakes Loons, 6-5, on Wednesday afternoon at Dow Diamond to claim the rubber match in the three-game set despite collecting just four hits.
The TinCaps (4-3) leapt out to a 2-0 lead in the first, broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth and held on in the ninth en route to the series-clinching victory over the Loons (2-2).
Fort Wayne right-handed starter Austin Smith, the Padres’ second-round draft pick last June, allowed two runs over four innings, didn’t walk a Loon and fanned three. Fellow 19-year-old J.C. Cosme (W, 1-0) followed with four scoreless innings before loading the bases in the ninth and ceding to righty Elliot Ashbeck (S, 1), who picked up the save.
Fort Wayne second baseman Peter Van Gansen (2-for-3, one single, one double, one RBI, one walk) spearheaded the offense.
For the first time in seven games this season, the TinCaps struck first. With runners at the corners in the top of the first inning, first baseman Ty France drove in left fielder River Stevens with an RBI groundout. Fort Wayne then made it 2-0 when shortstop Ruddy Giron scored from third on a wild pitch.
Great Lakes leveled the game, 2-2, in the home fourth on a triple, sacrifice fly, and solo home run.
But the TinCaps countered promptly in the fifth. After reaching on an error, catcher A.J. Kennedy scored after a pair of Great Lakes balks. Van Gansen then hauled in center fielder Rod Boykin with an RBI single to center and stretched the lead to 4-2.
Stevens, the leadoff man, added a solo home run in the top of the eighth to push the TinCaps up 5-2. The 24-year old from Temecula, California, only mustered one home run in his first 548 professional at-bats. Stevens now has two long balls in his last 10 at-bats. Fort Wayne added another run in the inning on Great Lakes’ third error of the afternoon.
The Loons closed the 6-2 deficit to a 6-5 margin with five singles in the bottom of the ninth. But Ashbeck stranded runners at first and third to cement the victory.
- Thursday, April 14 vs. South Bend at Parkview Field (7:05 p.m.)
o TinCaps Probable Starter: RHP Brett Kennedy (0-0, 3.00 ERA)
o Cubs Probable Starter: LHP Justin Steele (0-1, 0.00 ERA)