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TinCaps

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    Randy Smith, vice president of player development for the San Diego Padres, sat in the office of TinCaps manager Michael Collins before Fort Wayne’s playoff opener and ruminated on the clubs’ 16-year partnership.
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  • Captains eliminate TinCaps
    The long faces said it all.The TinCaps’ chase for a second Midwest League championship came to a halt Sunday night as Lake County sent them home for the winter with a 5-4 loss in Game 2 to wrap up the Eastern Division Championship
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TinCaps
vs. Peoria
When: 7:05 a.m. today
TV: Xfinity Channel 81
Radio: 1380 AM
Tickets: $12.50, $10, $9, $8, $5 (lawn)
Information: TinCaps.com or 482-6400
Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
The TinCaps’ Ronnie Richardson dives back to first in the third inning of Thursday’s game. In the ninth, Richardson scored the winning run.

TinCaps rally in 9th to win

Peterson drives in Richardson in series opener

Dustin Peterson wiped away bits of a shaving cream pie from his face as the sounds of rapper 50 Cent blared in the TinCaps’ clubhouse.

“Hey, look, they’re happy again,” said a team official, passing through the celebration.

Peterson lined a walk-off single in the ninth inning and was mobbed by teammates as the TinCaps rallied for a 6-5 win over Peoria in the series opener Thursday night at Parkview Field.

The TinCaps (5-8) narrowly avoided another extra-inning affair on the heels of Wednesday’s franchise-record, 18-inning marathon, a heartbreaking 7-5 loss.

“It’s a big relief,” Peterson said. “I did not want to go 18 again. Everyone in here would say the same.”

Peterson jumped on a first-pitch curveball with runners on second and third and one out.

Peoria manager Joe Kruzel went with a five-man infield in an attempt to cut down the winning run.

Peterson made the strategy moot.

“He’s shown great at-bats this year,” TinCaps manager Michael Collins said. “Something Morgan Burkhart, the hitting coach, has spoken to all our hitters about is having a certain approach when you step in. Right there it showed. He was ready with a good plan.”

Tied entering the frame, Ronnie Richardson was hit by a pitch leading off against Peoria’s Joe Scanio.

“When I step in the box, my job is to get on base,” Richardson said. “The pitcher had a lower arm slot and sink. I knew that coming into the at-bat.”

From there, a pair of bunts paid off handsomely. Speedy leadoff man Mallex Smith placed his perfectly inside the first-base line and reached without a throw. Josh VanMeter then sacrificed the runners into position for Peterson.

“When they made the pitching visit and Mallex came over, I said, ‘Hey, play your game,’ ” Collins said. “Mallex is a tough guy who can bunt. I didn’t put that on. That was something he did.”

The TinCaps carried a 4-3 lead to the eighth before Peoria (8-5) went ahead on an outfield misplay.

With two outs, the Chiefs’ Ronald Castillo scored from first after a ball hopped past Richardson in left. Kenneth Peoples-Walls was credited with a double that appeared no more than a single off the bat.

The TinCaps bounced right back in their first chance. In what would serve as a familiar template, Franmil Reyes opened the eighth by getting hit by a pitch. He slid in ahead of the tag on Franchy Cordero’s tying, first-pitch sacrifice fly.

Tony Rizzotti (1-1) wriggled out of a two-on, none-out jam in the top of the ninth by inducing a double-play grounder and a harmless pop to second.

TinCaps starter Pete Kelich went six innings and Rizzotti three.

Peterson, the designated hitter, went 0 for 4 before his walk-off hit, something he said he hadn’t done since high school.

“What a game,” he said.

cgoff@jg.net

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