FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The TinCaps mounted a late rally in the ninth inning but couldn’t nudge past the West Michigan Whitecaps in a 3-1 loss Friday night at Parkview Field before a crowd of nearly 7,000.
Fort Wayne (21-20), which received outstanding pitcher from starter Jacob Nix, was held scoreless through the first eight frames. The TinCaps, though, exploded for four hits in the ninth, only to fall in the opener of a four-game set.
Nix spun five shutout innings and only surrendered three hits. He fanned five and didn’t allow a walk. The 20-year old, who was selected by the Padres in the third round in June, has now logged 21 innings over his last six outings and has only given up one earned run, while punching out 22 and walking just three.
Nix went toe to toe with Whitecaps starter Shane Greene, the right-handed Detroit Tigers starter who was making his first rehab appearance in his return from a blister on his right middle finger. Greene tossed three shutout innings, struck out five and only allowed three baserunners.
West Michigan scored a run in each of the sixth, seventh and eighth innings against TinCaps righty Austin Smith (L, 0-3).
Fort Wayne designated hitter Carlos Belen led off the ninth with a triple to right-center field. He then scored on an RBI groundout by center fielder Michael Gettys. First baseman Brad Zunica and right fielder Mason Smith then singled. Third baseman Kodie Tidwell followed with a single to right field, but Whitecaps outfielder Jose Azocar fired a strike to the plate—his Midwest League-leading ninth outfield assist—to nab Zunica.
Whitecaps right-hander Jake Shull (S, 5) buttoned up the victory from there. Tigers first-round pick Beau Burrows (W, 2-3) had followed Greene with five shutout stanzas.
TinCaps catcher Austin Allen was ejected in the third inning after striking out against Greene. Moments earlier, Allen had hammered a ball off the right-center field wall on the fly, but time had been called by home plate umpire Ryan Wilhelms.
Saturday, May 21 vs. West Michigan at Parkview Field (7:05 p.m.)
– TinCaps Probable Starter: LHP Thomas Dorminy
– Whitecaps Probable Starter: LHP Trent Szkutnik