LANSING, Mich. – The Fort Wayne pitching staff broke the franchise record for strikeouts in a season, and the TinCaps came from behind to beat the Lansing Lugnuts (Toronto Blue Jays), 7-6, in 11 innings on Saturday night at Cooley Law School Stadium. TinCaps starting pitcher Pedro Avila struck out Lugnuts designated hitter Mitch Nay in the bottom of the sixth inning, marking the 1,225th strikeout for the Fort Wayne pitching staff this season. In total on Saturday, the TinCaps struck out 15 Lugnuts hitters for 1,235 strikeouts this season, surpassing the previous high set in 2009.
Fort Wayne (39-23, 65-67) scored the eventual game-winning run in the top of the 11th inning off Lansing relief pitcher Jared Carkuff (L). Right fielder Jack Suwinski reached base on an error to begin the inning. Shortstop Gabriel Arias followed with a single to put runners on first and second base. The hit was the third of the game for the 17-year-old. Designated hitter Tyler Selesky then ripped a ball down the right-field line, scoring both Suwinski and Arias to give Fort Wayne a 7-5 lead.
Lansing (22-40, 59-69) had the tying and winning runs on base in the bottom of the 11th, but TinCaps reliever Hansel Rodriguez closed the game out to secure the win. With the bases loaded and no outs, Nay hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Rodrigo Orozco and trim the TinCaps’ lead to 7-6, but Rodriguez struck out the next two batters to end the game. Rodriguez had first entered the game in the bottom of the ninth with runners on first and second and one out, and the right-hander retired the next two batters to send the game to extra innings. In all, Rodriguez struck out five batters in 2 2/3 innings on the mound.
The Lugnuts opened the scoring in the bottom of the third inning. With runners on first and third base and one out, a passed ball scored Nick Sinay from third for a 1-0 Lugnuts lead. Two batters later, a Nash Knight double to left field scored Kevin Vicuña from second to give Lansing a 2-0 advantage. David Jacob followed with a groundout to second base, but Orozco scored from third on the play to make the score 3-0.
Fort Wayne scored its first runs in the top of the fifth. With one out, Arias singled and Selesky worked a walk to put runners on first and second base. Left fielder Tyler Benson followed with a double that scored both Arias and Selesky to cut Lansing’s lead to 3-2.
The TinCaps tied the game and took the lead in the top of the seventh. Suwinski led off the inning with a home run over the wall in right-center field to knot the game up, 3-3. Arias and Selesky each followed with singles, putting runners at first and third. Two batters later, catcher Chandler Seagle hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Arias from third to give the TinCaps a 4-3 lead.
Fort Wayne’s lead didn’t last long though. Leading off the bottom of the seventh for Lansing, Sinay singled. Then, Vicuña tripled to right-center field to score Sinay and tie the game, 4-4. Two batters later, Knight singled to right field, bringing home Vicuña to reclaim the lead for the Lugnuts, 5-4.
The game’s third tie ensued in the top of the eighth. Shortstop Reinaldo Ilarraza swung and missed at a pitch for strike three, but the ball hit the dirt and rolled to the backstop, allowing Ilarraza to reach first base. A single by center fielder Buddy Reed moved Ilarraza to third base. Suwinski followed with an infield single that stopped between home plate and the pitcher’s mound to score Ilarraza and draw the game even, 5-5.
Lansing starting pitcher Yennsy Diaz allowed four runs and seven hits but struck out nine batters in seven innings of work. Lugnuts reliever Jake Fishman struck out seven batters in two innings with one of those strikeouts coming against Ilarraza in the eighth.
Avila picked up six strikeouts in six innings on the mound for Fort Wayne. The 20-year-old Venezuelan also allowed six hits, three runs, and two walks.
Sunday, August 27 @ Lansing (2:05 p.m.)
– TinCaps Probable Starter: LH Osvaldo Hernandez
– Lugnuts Probable Starter: LH Juliandry Higuera
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