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First round
Eastern Division
(TinCaps win series 2-0)
Game 1: Fort Wayne 5, Lansing 2
Game 2: Fort Wayne 9, Lansing 6
Kevin W. Fowler | The Lansing State Journal
Kyle Gaedele of the TinCaps runs into the wall while trying to catch a Lugnuts drive to center in the third inning Thursday.
Midwest League Playoffs

Comeback a clincher

TinCaps erase season’s biggest deficit, reach Eastern finals

– LANSING – Fort Wayne picked the perfect time for its biggest comeback of the season.

Jace Peterson knocked in Lee Orr with a single to right field, completing a remarkable 9-6 comeback victory for the TinCaps against Lansing in Game 2 of the Eastern Division opening round series Thursday at Cooley Law School Stadium.

The TinCaps rallied from 6-0 deficit to advance to win the series 2-0 and advance to the Eastern Division championship series.

“We just stayed relaxed. We didn’t panic. We knew that as long as we got into their bullpen, we had a good chance of coming back,” said Orr, who was 3 for 5 with three RBI. “We made the most of our opportunities. We did a good job of executing when we needed to.”

The TinCaps will face Lake County for the Eastern Division championship. The Captains swept Bowling Green. Game 1 is 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Parkview Field. Games 2 and 3, if necessary, are at Lake County.

Fort Wayne scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the game at 6. Orr hit a double leading off the eighth and moved to third on a bunt by Kyle Gaedele. Travis Jankowski struck out, but Peterson followed with the go-ahead single.

“That’s a sign of how much they want to win,” Fort Wayne manager Jose Valentin said. “They pick up each other. The reason why we are winning is because it’s a team effort. We are playing winning baseball.”

Fort Wayne’s largest rally for a victory in the regular season was four, also at Lansing. The TinCaps trailed 5-1 after four innings on Aug. 28, but won 7-6.

Lansing jumped out to a big lead Thursday with the help of Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie, who joined the Lugnuts as part of a rehab assignment.

Lawrie went 3 for 4 with one RBI and one run scored. His RBI triple in the fourth inning made it 6-0.

Fort Wayne scored twice in the fifth.

Orr led the seventh off with a home run to right field.

“The home run, I was just trying to battle, I was down two strikes. I got the barrel on the ball and it just took off,” Orr said.

Gaedele walked. With one out, Peterson walked. Asencio reached on a fielding error by Lawrie to load the bases.

Jeremy Baltz drew a walk, scoring Gaedele to make it 6-4.

Peterson scored when Austin Hedges grounded out to third. Duanel Jones then hit a grounder down the third-base line. Lawrie fielded, but didn’t have a play to make. Asencio scored on the infield hit, tying the game at 6.

Lansing’s first two batters reached in the seventh. Leo and Indiana Tech product Brandon Alger got K.C. Hobson to fly out to left. Nick Baligod hit into a force play for the second out.

Luis De La Cruz entered with runners on first and third. Baligod stole second, but De La Cruz struck out Gustavo Pierre to get out of trouble.

“Those guys have been unbelievable,” Valentin said of the bullpen.

Orr started the eighth by just missing another home run. He settled for a double, setting up Peterson’s big hit.

“I was just looking for a ball to hit,” Peterson said. “Lee did a good job all night of being on the bases. I just tried to put a good swing on it and it all worked out.”

Orr added insurance with a two-run double in the ninth.

Matt Stites pitched the ninth, sending Fort Wayne to the Eastern Division finals for the second straight season.

“We’re playing good ball right now,” Peterson said. “We just want to keep it going.”