TinCaps Lock Up Second Half Eastern Division Top Seed

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The TinCaps tied a season high with 18 hits en route to a 12-4 victory over the West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers) on Sunday night at Fifth Third Ballpark. The win secured the Eastern Division’s top seed for the second half of the season for the TinCaps.

Fort Wayne (42-27, 68-71) wasted no time lighting up the scoreboard. With runners on second and third base in the top of the first inning, third baseman Hudson Potts hit a sacrifice fly to center field that scored right fielder Jack Suwinski from third to give Fort Wayne a 1-0 lead.

The TinCaps added to their lead in the second frame. With one out, center fielder Buddy Reed tripled. Two batters later, second baseman Reinaldo Ilarraza singled to score Reed for a 2-0 TinCaps advantage.

Fort Wayne used power to extend its lead in the third. With a runner on first and no outs, Potts crushed a ball off the manual scoreboard past the left-field wall for a two-run homer that pushed Fort Wayne’s edge to 4-0. The home run was the 20th of the season for Potts, making the 18-year-old the third player in franchise history to reach the 20-homer milestone in a season and the second this year (Fernando Tatis Jr. being the other).

The TinCaps collected five straight hits to begin the sixth inning, including a Suwinski two-run double and a run-producing double by left fielder Nate Easley to make it a 7-0 ballgame. Two batters later, first baseman Brad Zunica hit a sac fly to center field that scored Easley from third for an 8-0 advantage. Sunday marked Zunica’s return from a 24-day stretch on the Disabled List. The 21-year-old had a single and double in the game to go along with the RBI.

West Michigan (45-23, 90-45) finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth. A fielder’s choice groundout and a single both brought home a run each to cut the TinCaps’ lead to 8-2.

Fort Wayne would strike right back in the seventh. Ilarraza knocked in two runs with a one-out single to extend the TinCaps’ margin to 10-2. The hit was Ilarraza’s fourth of the game. Later in the inning, Potts singled with two outs to score two more runs and give Fort Wayne a 12-2 lead. The hit was the third of the night for Potts who also had five RBIs.

The highlight of the game may have come during the seventh inning with Reed at the plate. The West Michigan video board crew played a video from the movie Heavyweights in which “Buddy” is repeatedly screamed. The Whitecaps’ crowd joined in with the chant, and Reed proceeded to double, prompting an ovation from the West Michigan crowd. The chant and cheers continued throughout the night in support of Reed.

In the eighth, the Whitecaps added two more runs to partially close the deficit. Drew Longley doubled to plate one run while a Danny Woodrow single brought home another run to trim the Fort Wayne lead to 12-4.

TinCaps starting pitcher Lake Bachar (W) faced the minimum number of batters through five innings before allowing two runs in the sixth. The right-hander allowed just four hits in his six frames on the mound.

Whitecaps starting pitcher Spenser Watkins (L) struggled, allowing four runs and eight hits in five innings of work while walking three batters and striking out four.

Next Game

Sunday, September 4 @ West Michigan (1:00 p.m.)

– TinCaps Probable Starter: RH Reggie Lawson

– Whitecaps Probable Starter: RH Tom de Blok

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