FORT WAYNE, Ind. – TinCaps catcher Marcus Greene Jr. hit a two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Fort Wayne a 6-4 win over the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Tampa Bay Rays) on Thursday night at Parkview Field in Game 2 of the best-of-three Eastern Division Semifinals. Fort Wayne overcame a three-run deficit entering the seventh inning to win the game and advance to the Midwest League Eastern Division Championship Series.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, the game tied, 4-4, and a runner at first base, Greene launched a ball over the center-field wall to end the game and give Fort Wayne the 6-4 win. It was the fourth walk-off win for the TinCaps this season and the first walk-off home run.
Fort Wayne (2-0, 70-72) took an early lead in the game thanks to another home run in the bottom of the first inning. Right fielder Jack Suwinski led off the inning with a drive over the wall in right-center field to give the TinCaps a 1-0 advantage.
Bowling Green (0-2, 72-67) tied the game in the top of the fourth inning. With Rene Pinto at second base and one out, Jim Haley singled on a slow roller to TinCaps shortstop Gabriel Arias. Arias made an errant throw to first base that allowed Pinto to score from second base on the play and tie the game, 1-1.
The Hot Rods took their first lead of the series in the fifth. With the bases loaded and no outs, Josh Lowe singled to score Luis Rengifo for a 2-1 Bowling Green advantage. Pinto followed with a groundout that scored Miles Mastrobuoni from third to extend the Hot Rods’ edge to 3-1. Jesus Sanchez then hit a sacrifice fly to center field that brought home Garrett Whitley to put Bowling Green up 4-1.
The TinCaps began to cut into the deficit in the seventh. Second baseman Reinaldo Ilarraza hit a ball down the left-field line that landed fair and bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double. A passed ball allowed Ilarraza to move to third base, and the 18-year-old Venezuelan scored on a Suwinski sacrifice fly to left field, trimming the Hot Rods’ advantage to 4-2.
Fort Wayne tied the game in the eighth. Greene and designated hitter Jorge Oña both singled to begin the inning to put runners on the corners. Robbie Podorsky came off the bench to replace Oña as a pinch-runner at first base to add more speed to the base paths. On a pitch that Podorsky was taking off for second base, Arias grounded a ball to short. Arias was out at first, but Greene scored from third and Podorsky was safe at second as Bowling Green’s lead was down to 4-3. Two batters later, once again Podorsky was off on the pitch, heading for third base. Ilarraza bounced a ball to second base and dove into first base head-first to beat the throw. Podorsky scored on the play to tie the game, 4-4.
The TinCaps’ bullpen was stellar. Osvaldo Hernandez, Will Headean, and Andres Munoz combined to throw 4 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball. The trio combined to strike out six batters while allowing just two hits and one walk.
Bowling Green starting pitcher Adrian Navas allowed just one run in six innings on the mound, but the Hot Rods’ bullpen struggled. Relievers Orlando Romero and Joe Serrapica (L) combined to allow five runs, four of them earned runs, in 2 2/3 innings of work.
The TinCaps now move on to the Eastern Division Championship Series where they will host either the West Michigan Whitecaps or the Dayton Dragons on Saturday, September 9 (7:05 p.m.). That will be Game 1 of a best-of-three series. Games 2 and, if necessary, Game 3 will be played on the road at West Michigan or Dayton. The Whitecaps and Dragons will play a decisive Game 3 of their series Friday night.
Tickets for the Midwest League Playoffs at Parkview Field are on sale at TinCapsTickets.com, by calling 260-482-6400, or by visiting the ballpark’s Ticket Office during regular business hours. Ticket prices are the same as in the regular season, starting at just $5.
Saturday, September 9 vs. Dayton or West Michigan (7:05 p.m.)
Watch: Comcast Network 81
Listen: ESPN Radio 1380 & 100.9 FM / TinCapsRadio.com / TuneIn