FORT WAYNE – The TinCaps reduced the number of errors from a season-high five Thursday to just one Friday, but that one miscue opened the door for a three-run South Bend seventh inning in the Silver Hawks’ 5-4 victory in front of 7,078 fans at Parkview Field.
The loss for the TinCaps (19-14, 50-53) was their second straight to the Silver Hawks (18-15, 53-50), and it marked the first time since losing two out of three to Beloit two weeks ago that the TinCaps lost a series. Previously, they had won their last three.
As Fort Wayne took a 4-2 lead into the top of the seventh inning, South Bend’s No. 9 hitter Eric Groff singled to right.
Leadoff hitter Chris Ellison hit a sharp ground ball to TinCaps second baseman Tyler Stubblefield, who, in his haste to get the forceout at second and start a double play, bobbled the ball.
A sacrifice bunt and a flyout were followed by a single that drove in two runs and a double that brought in the other.
It’s a play where you want to get outs, but as an infielder, if you have to think about a ground ball, you’re going to make an error, Stubblefield said. In that situation, yeah, I was a little overaggressive and could have sat back and taken one out and maybe the inning turns into one run or no runs. But I did what I would do nine times out of 10. Tonight, I didn’t make the play.
TinCaps manager Jose Valentin thought that Stubblefield could have played it safer.
I think Stubby went a little too aggressive and tried to get the hop instead of waiting for it and tried to get one out, and they were up by two runs, Valentin said.
But the TinCaps had other chances to escape with a win.
A two-out double in the eighth by catcher Matt Colantonio, who went 3 for 4, was followed by back-to-back, four-pitch walks to Kyle Gaedele and Travis Jankowski to load the bases.
But on the first pitch of his at-bat, Jace Peterson hit it off the fist and was thrown out easily by the third baseman.
I think that was something unacceptable of a guy struggling to throw strikes – see two guys in front of you get a walk without swinging the bat, and then you go out there with bases loaded and the tying run on third and swing at the first pitch, Valentin said. Not too smart in that situation.
The TinCaps got a second chance at one run in the ninth when Yeison Asencio and Travis Whitmore beat out infield singles. With the infield drawn close, South Bend third baseman Ryan Court made a diving stop on Juanel Jones’ grounder, then with two outs, Stubblefield’s looper down the right field line was caught by the diving Ellison.
Notes: The TinCaps released pitcher Robert Eisenbach and infielder Zach Kometani and reinstated pitcher Luis De La Cruz from the disabled list.