FORT WAYNE – It was the beginning of the new beginning; a first-inning hustle double from leadoff hitter Jace Peterson set the tone in the TinCaps’ 4-3 win over Lake County on Friday at Parkview Field.
Peterson eventually scored, the TinCaps got another run in the first and added two more in the third inning to open the second half of the Midwest League season.
With the 31-39 record and seventh-place finish in the rearview mirror, TinCaps manager Jose Valentin likes the fresh start.
“It’s a nice start; 69 games left,” Valentin said. “We started the first half with a good game. We lost it in the end against the same team, but that was a different story. We came back ready to go, right in the first inning, and scored two. We added two more in the third. It was enough.”
It was the double from Peterson that provided a perfect jump-start to Game 1 of the second half.
Peterson hit what appeared to be a routine single into shallow right-center field. But instead of cruising into first, he kept going to second base, beating the throw from the outfield.
“The outfielder kind of lollygagged a little bit,” said Peterson, who was walked twice. “When I saw him go to throw, I figured I could go and get (second). I just went and got it. It was a close play, but I just trusted it and went for it.
“It definitely sets a tone. It ended up being closer than it should have been, but top-to-bottom, we battled, grinded out at-bats and we had a great game.”
Valentin knows the value of Peterson setting the tone.
“I told him that he’s got to play his game,” Valentin said. “He’s the best runner that I have on the team. It’s about taking chances. You’ve got to be aggressive. In that situation, if he gets thrown out at second base, that’s fine with me. You want to get in scoring position with less than two outs. It looked like he hesitated a little bit. He wasn’t sure. But I guess with his speed, he can make it up and be able to make it to second base.”
No. 2 hitter Donavan Tate followed Peterson’s double with a double to the left-field wall to put the TinCaps on top 1-0. And after Tate scurried to third base on a passed ball, he scored on Austin Hedges’ infield single into the hole between shortstop and third.
Two more runs in the third – a single from Lee Orr, an RBI double from Duanel Jones, a wild pitch and a booted ball by Lake County first baseman Jarrud Sabourin – widened the TinCaps’ lead, which was enough for starting pitcher Frank Garces and bullpen friends to protect, even though Johnny Barbato gave up a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth inning.
Note: Right-handed pitcher Matt Stites was reinstated from the disabled list. Stites has a 1-0 record with a 0.89 ERA and five saves.