Josh VanMeter said it felt like nobody was in the stands during his stint last summer in the Arizona Rookie League.
That’s why, despite the TinCaps’ 5-0 loss to Dayton, he relished playing Thursday in front of the largest crowd in the six-year history of Parkview Field.
It’s fun to play in front of a lot of people, said VanMeter, who had two of his team’s four hits. Indiana itself is a basketball state. Fort Wayne is just a great sports city in general.
On Social Media Night, attendance was 9,015, surpassing the previous record of 8,780.
Offensively, the TinCaps (34-42, 4-3 second half) couldn’t do much of anything.
The highest-scoring team in the Midwest League didn’t get a hit until VanMeter singled leading off the sixth inning.
We definitely missed a couple of pitches, TinCaps manager Michael Collins said. We managed a few (three) walks.
Overall, we just didn’t string anything together. It was one of those days.
Those days are a rarity. Fort Wayne had been shut out just once before.
Dragons right-hander Dan Langfield, a third-round choice in the 2012 amateur draft out of Memphis, seems to have their number.
Coming in, he’d faced Fort Wayne twice as a reliever, giving up one hit with eight strikeouts in four shutout innings.
After Jackson Stephens was a late scratch with a blister on his index finger, Langfield made a spot start and struck out five in four innings.
He has good stuff, said Ryan Miller, who went 0 for 2 with two walks. He has secondary pitches that he can throw for strikes. He has a 12-6 curveball that was hard for us to pick up.
Langfield retired the first eight batters before VanMeter reached on a throwing error.
Franmil Reyes, who walked in the fourth, was the only other batter to reach safely against Langfield.
He set a tone for tonight’s great performance, Dragons manager Jose Nieves said. Fastball was live to both sides of the plate. Those four innings were huge for us.
Langfield was pulled after 60 pitches.
Tony Amezcua (1-2) relieved and went three innings for the victory.
Dayton (38-37, 2-5) avoided a three-game sweep.
Kyle Lloyd (2-2) gave up three runs on seven hits in five innings.
He matched zeroes with Langfield until the Dragons burst through in the fifth on an RBI double by Jon Matthews, an RBI infield single by Daniel Pigott and a sacrifice fly by Phillip Ervin.
That fifth inning, the cost of doing business, Lloyd said. They were swinging early in the count, what they’re supposed to do.
Dayton added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
The TinCaps had a base runner in each of the final six innings but wound up 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
We were anxious at the plate, not letting the game come to us, Miller said. You can’t do that.