DAYTON, Ohio — The TinCaps shut out the Dayton Dragons (Cincinnati Reds), 6-0, on Sunday night at Fifth Third Field to force a decisive Game 3 in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division Championship Series.
First baseman Brad Zunica gave Fort Wayne a 1-0 lead when he led off the top of the second with a home run to the right-field lawn seats against Matt Blandino (L). On the very next pitch, catcher Marcus Greene Jr. homered to left-center field to make it 2-0.
For Zunica, it was his first at-bat of the series after he didn’t start on Saturday. For Greene, it was his second homer in the last three games. His ninth-inning, walk-off shot against Bowling Green on Thursday clinched a 2-0 sweep of that first round series.
The TinCaps added to their lead with three more runs in the third as Zunica and Greene drew bases-loaded walks. Blandino departed after walking Zunica and was replaced by Lucas Benenati. After Greene’s walk, designated hitter Jorge Oña was hit by a pitch to swell the cushion to 5-0.
On the mound, Fort Wayne starter Reggie Lawson blanked the Dragons for five innings. Primarily mixing a low-to-mid-90s fastball with a curveball in the 70s, the 20-year-old right-hander struck out five as he worked around four singles and three walks.
Lefty Osvaldo Hernandez followed Lawson two perfect innings of relief, striking out the first five batters he faced. Will Headean then faced the minimum in a hitless eighth, while Hansel Rodriguez needed only nine pitches to finish things up in the ninth.
This was the franchise’s first shutout victory in a playoff game since a 1-0 win against Great Lakes on Sept. 8. in the EDCS.
Center fielder Buddy Reed laced an RBI double to right-center field that scored Oña for an insurance run in the top of the ninth.
Seven TinCaps reached base and six had a hit, including second baseman Justin Lopez. The 17-year-old made his Fort Wayne debut Saturday night and went 1-for-3 Sunday. He also made two great defensive plays diving to his right to stop balls from getting into right field.
The winner of Monday night’s Game 3 will advance to the best-of-five Midwest League Championship Series against the winner of the Western Division Championship Series between Quad Cities (Houston Astros) and the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Minnesota Twins). Those two will also play a Game 3 on Monday night, with Cedar Rapids hosting.
If the TinCaps were to move on, Game 1 of the MWLCS would be at Parkview Field on Wednesday with Game 2 there on Thursday.
Monday, Sept. 11 @ Dayton, 7 p.m.
– TinCaps Probable Starter: RH Michel Baez (2.45)
– Dragons Probable Starter: RH Andrew Jordan (4.66)
Listen: ESPN Radio 1380 & 100.9 FM, TinCapsRadio.com, TuneIn