Slugger Franmil Reyes stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs in the 10th inning – the type of situation that had recently troubled the TinCaps’ overanxious offense.
On an 0-1 pitch, Reyes, poised and focused, lofted a sacrifice fly to left field, giving his team a much-needed 3-2 victory over Great Lakes on Monday night at Parkview Field.
I just was thinking about putting the ball in play, said Reyes, who also threw out a runner at the plate in the ninth to keep the game tied.
The TinCaps (55-70, 25-31 second half) improved to 9-7 in games that went to extra innings, but they never wanted to be there Monday.
The Loons (60-66, 26-30) tied it off Ryan Butler in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Josmar Cordero.
A batter later, they nearly went ahead when Leo Rodriguez doubled just fair past first base.
Webster Rivas, who took off from first, ran through manager Bill Haselman’s stop sign and was gunned down by Reyes.
I’m so excited I made that play, Reyes said. I didn’t want to lose the game like that.
Catcher Ryan Miller applied a lunging tag.
It was a bang-bang reaction play, Miller said. I saw him way outside, and the only way I could get him is if I dove. I took a peep. Franmil gave a hard throw.
Current wild-card leader Dayton lost 11-6 to South Bend, making it a fruitful night for the TinCaps.
They climbed within two games of Dayton, though the Dragons own the tiebreaker.
Big victory, TinCaps manager Michael Collins said. That makes it better. All we can do is win the games and let the chips fall where they may.
The TinCaps scored twice in the third on an RBI grounder by Josh VanMeter and an RBI single by Fernando Perez.
Aside from Butler’s blown save, his first in nine tries as a professional, the TinCaps’ pitching was outstanding.
A home run by Joey Curletta was the only hit starter Yimmi Brasoban gave up in five innings.
I threw hard, Brasoban said. I hit my spots.
Jason Jester followed with two shutout frames, and Eric Yardley worked a 1-2-3 eighth on his 24th birthday.
After Nick Mutz got through the top of the 10th unscathed, Trea Turner and Ronnie Richardson hit back to back singles. Richardson went to second on a throwing error, and Perez was intentionally walked.
Up came Reyes.
Last couple days, our situational hitting, especially with runners on third and less than two out, hasn’t been very good, Collins said. He didn’t try to hit the big one.
Turner, among the fastest players in the minor leagues, scored standing up, setting off a wild celebration that spilled into center field.
It feels good, Turner said. It’s huge. Every game now means a lot.