The amazing part wasn’t that the TinCaps got down by so much – they trailed by eight runs – but that they were able to rally back so well in front of 7,757 fans.
Ultimately the TinCaps lost 10-5 – it was their seventh loss in 10 games – but not before Fernando Perez faced closer Trevor Frank in a bases-loaded, two-out situation in the bottom of the ninth inning at Parkview Field.
Frank struck out the only batter he faced, getting his 14th save, and the TinCaps were left to wonder how to recover from the tailspin that is taking them out of the playoff hunt.
We’ve just got to bounce back for tomorrow. We can’t worry about today. That’s history, said Nick Schulz, who was 1 for 3 with one of Fort Wayne’s runs. Tomorrow is a whole new ballgame and we’ve just got to get ready to go.
The TinCaps (54-69, 24-30 second half), have 16 games left, starting today against Lake County (54-69, 27-26).
It’s late in the season and we’ve just got to keep grinding and pull out as many wins as we can, said Ronnie Richardson, who was 1 for 2 with a home run. Every game matters at this point, especially when we’re (3 1/2 ) games out of the playoffs and trying to make that final push. Guys have got to have the energy to keep going. Every game counts and we’ve got to do something to come out, mentally prepare and be ready to play.
Fort Wayne’s starting pitcher, Jeffery Enloe, had been nothing if not dependable in his first six starts for the TinCaps, never failing to go at least five innings and never giving up more than four runs or six hits. But in back-to-back games, both against the Captains, it’s been a different story.
The Captains shelled Enloe in a 12-6 victory at Parkview Field on Aug. 10. In that game, he gave up five runs and eight hits in four innings. He didn’t allow a home run, but that wasn’t the case Saturday.
Things didn’t start out well – Lake County’s Ivan Castillo and Clint Frazier led the game off with back-to-back singles – but Enloe got out of the inning. In the second, Sicnarf Loopstok and Brian Ruiz had back-to-back home runs to left for a 2-0 lead.
In the third, after runners reached on a pair of walks and a throwing error by second baseman Reynaldo Bruguera, Mike Papi hit a three-run home run to right for a 6-0 lead.
Enloe pitched 2 2/3 innings and allowed five earned runs and eight hits, while walking two, before he was replaced by Tyler Wood.
Wood’s luck wasn’t much better. In the fourth, he was victimized by four hits – and he hit a batter – and Nellie Rodriguez scored off a fielder’s choice, after an RBI single of his own, to make it 8-0.
But the TinCaps answered in the bottom of the inning, when Richardson hit a home run to left. And in the sixth, a Richardson sacrifice fly brought home Schulz, cutting Lake County’s to 10-2.
The TinCaps continued to come back in the eighth, when they scored three runs; Perez had a two-run single, then scored on a Jake Bauers sacrifice fly.
It show signs of a great team when you never lay down, Richardson said. We got down pretty big early. Everybody could have easily given up and thrown in the bag, you know? But our hitters kept battling and fighting. Their starters kept us off balance the first part of the game, then we got a couple knocks and everything else started falling where they should.
Lake County starter Luis Lugo went 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and three hits, while striking out five and walking one, before making way for three relievers.
Papi was 3 for 5 with three RBI and two runs. Ruiz was 3 for 5 with three RBI and one run.
For the TinCaps, Perez was 2 for 5 with two RBI and a run.