Fort Wayne, Indiana
Thursday night, the TinCaps put together a complete game with solid performances on offense, from the mound, and in the field to defeat the West Michigan Whitecaps 7-3.
With the Whitecaps leading 3-2, the TinCaps broke open the game in the bottom of the fifth, sending ten batters to the plate, with the first six reaching base. Tre Carter started the rally with a leadoff single that was followed by another from Jeisson Rosario. Esteury Ruiz drew a walk to load the bases for Tirso Ornelas.
Ornelas singled to right field, scoring two to regain the lead 4-3. Ornelas and Ruiz advanced to second and third on the throw home, putting two runners in scoring position for clean-up batter Luis Campusano. Campusano smacked a hard grounder to right field that scooted just under the glove of the Whitecaps’ Alexis Garcia, increasing the TinCaps’ lead to 7-3. Although the next batter, Luis Almanzar, also reached base on a walk, the Whitecaps defense recovered and retired three of the next four hitters to prevent additional scoring.
In addition to the five-run fifth, the TinCaps got on the board first with a two-run second. Almanzar and shortstop Justin Lopez started the inning with consecutive singles. Carlos Belen then smacked a hard line drive to center field to bring in Almanzar and put runners at the corners. Jack Suwinski singled to right to score Lopez for a 2-0 lead.
Starter Aaron Leasher had a good outing, especially early on. He allowed only one hit and struck out six in the first three innings. The Whitecaps scored one in the top of the fourth, and Leasher appeared to tire a bit in the fifth, giving up two more runs. Jordan Pearce singled to start the inning, but Leasher retired the two batters. Cole Peterson then singled, and with runners on first and second, Garcia hit a 3-2 pitch toward third base. Almanzar fielded the grounder, but hesitated in deciding to go to first or to tag Pearce, who was running to third. Choosing first, Almanzar’s throw was far wide of the mark and allowed Pearce to come home and put Peterson and Garcia on second and third. Luke Burch hit a single to left field to bring in Peterson, but an excellent throw from Carter to Campusano caught Garcia in between third and home, and a brief rundown ended both the inning and Leasher’s night.
The rest of the way, the TinCaps split relief duties among three pitchers. Caleb Boushley pitched the sixth and seventh, and Evan Miller and Jordan Guerrero pitched one inning each. The bullpen performed well, giving up only one hit in the last four innings to preserve the lead and the win.
The TinCaps’ defense also impressed with several standout plays that kept the Whitecaps off the scoreboard. In addition to his throw home to put out Garcia, Carter made a tough catch in the top of the sixth, just two batters after Rosario made a diving catch in center ( https://twitter.com/TinCaps/status/997309098705211392 ) on a quickly sinking drive that likely would have gone for extra bases.
In addition, the TinCaps turned two double plays in the game, both of which involved first baseman Belen. In the second inning with a man on first, Belen fielded a grounder and sent a rocket to second for the force, and Leasher hustled to first to catch the return throw for the second out. In the seventh, with two men on and one out, Belen nabbed a line drive that would have scored at least one. After the catch, Belen fired to the ball to Lopez at second, where Cesar Gonzalez could not slide back in time to beat the throw, and the inning ended.
With the victory, the TinCaps prevailed 3-1 in the 4-game series with the Whitecaps. Friday, the South Bend Cubs will arrive for a three-game set.
Announced attendance was 6,449….From the second to the third, Leasher struck out four Whitecaps in a row….Leasher ended up with eight total Ks, and the relief pitching added two more….Ornelas, Campusano, and Belen were all 2-for-4 on the night, combining for six singles.