Two home runs and one of the best defensive plays of the season, and what did Nick Schulz get for his trouble? A pie to the face from his teammates in the dugout.
Perhaps it was fitting, though, since just about everything the right fielder did Monday night was sweet.
Ha, it was the Nick Schulz show, said TinCaps manager Michael Collins after the 4-3 victory over the Lansing Lugnuts in front of 6,017 fans at Parkview Field.
Schulz had batted .351 with two home runs and eight RBI in his previous 10 games – nothing compared with what he did against the Lugnuts.
His home run in the third tied it at 1. His homer in the seventh, also to left field, finished the scoring. And then he preserved the victory in the eighth, when he ran down a David Harris fly ball and made a throw to home, where catcher Adolfo Reina tagged a sliding D.J. Davis for the third out.
In that situation, you have to know what’s going on, Schulz said. There was a one-out runner at third, and my job as an outfielder is to catch the ball and get it in there as soon as possible. Reina made one heck of a play. I give a lot of credit to him. I made a good throw, but he had to make a heck of play to get to that ball and he did it, sacrificing his body in the process. That’s on him, and I thank him for that.
Reina injured his elbow on the play and left the game, though Collins said he believes he could play today against Lansing (51-61, 19-24 second half).
That (defensive play) was awesome. It was a hell of a play, Collins said. As soon as Harris hit it, we were all in the dugout saying, OK, here we go. We’re going to have a play.’
The TinCaps are trending toward a postseason berth with a 20-23 record in the second half (50-62 overall). That put them a half game back of the last playoff spot in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division, held by Great Lakes, which was playing late Monday.
The TinCaps have won 15 of 22 games since halting a 13-game losing skid. Schulz, who was 2 for 4 Monday to lift his season average to .317, has led the way.
I’ve been working with our hitting coach (Morgan Burkhart) a lot. It’s just trying to slow everything down and trying to get a good pitch to hit. And not trying to do so much at the plate, Schulz said.
Fort Wayne starter Kyle Lloyd struck out six of the first eight batters he faced and went five innings, giving up three runs (two earned) and six hits while striking out 10 and walking two. Lansing’s Brad Allen went six innings, giving up seven hits with eight strikeouts and no walks.
Fort Wayne’s Trea Turner was 3 for 4. Dustin Peterson was 2 for 4 with a home run.
Notes: Mike Couzens, who had been a broadcaster with the TinCaps since 2012, left to pursue opportunities as a national TV play-by-play broadcaster. Snider graduate David Hentz, the assistant video production manager since 2012, has moved to Mobile TV Group.