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TinCaps

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Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Josh VanMeter, left, high fives Jake Bauers, who had scored to put the TinCaps ahead 4-3 in the sixth inning against Dayton on Tuesday afternoon at Parkview Field.

Reserve outfielder clutch for TinCaps

Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
TinCaps starter Walker Weickel allowed three runs and four hits in six innings against Dayton.

– Sunflower seeds flew through the air.

Who threw them? No one knows.

They rained down on a jumping pile of TinCaps near second base, serving in place of confetti or streamers.

Henry Charles, the reason for this impromptu celebration, didn’t mind any of it. The seeds. Dustin Peterson grabbing and shaking him.

After delivering a game-winning RBI double in the ninth inning, Charles, a part-time outfielder, was thrilled to hand his team a 5-4 win over Dayton that completed a series sweep Tuesday at Parkview Field.

“I’m very excited that I was able to help,” Charles said through a translator.

The TinCaps (22-29) essentially had to win it twice as closer Nick Mutz gave up a tying, two-out RBI single to Dragons leadoff batter Jamodrick McGruder in the top of the ninth.

Fort Wayne needed only two hitters to chase that despair. Adolfo Reina walked before Charles kept a fastball fair into the left-field corner off reliever Ryan Kemp (1-2).

“I wanted to be aggressive and drive the ball,” Charles said.

Ryan Miller, who pinch-ran for Reina, slid in easily ahead of a wild and late relay throw.

Charles got a share of the spotlight for his heroics, but Walker Weickel might have him topped in the feel-good-story department.

The TinCaps’ right-hander entered Tuesday with the worst ERA (7.17) and WHIP (1.85) in the Midwest League.

Dayton (27-23) managed just three runs and four hits in six innings off Weickel, who credited changes he made to his mechanics.

Weickel threw 47 of 72 pitches for strikes and stayed mostly out of trouble.

“I was able to throw with conviction,” said Weickel, a 20-year-old selected with a supplemental first-round pick in the 2012 amateur draft.

He was in line for his first win since April 15 before Mutz (1-3) blew his fourth save in 10 opportunities.

“The last seven weeks have been rough,” Weickel said. “Spots of success followed by rough points. To see a little break in that was nice.”

Franmil Reyes hit a two-run homer, his sixth, to right in the first, but Dayton took a 3-2 lead on Sean Buckley’s two-run blast in the fourth inning.

In the bottom half, the TinCaps scored a run on a wild pitch, and two innings later, they went back ahead on Charles’ RBI single.

The 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic has struggled at the plate the past two years but had five hits and a walk in 12 plate appearances in the Dayton series.

“The adjustments he’s made, he’s had the results the last couple days from all the work he’s put in,” TinCaps manager Michael Collins said.

After raising his average to .248, Charles got lost somewhere in a mob of teammates. His mind at that point was only in one place.

“Happy,” he said. “Content.”

cgoff@jg.net

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