FORT WAYNE – Manager Michael Collins didn’t want his batters to think about the long ball this season.
Yet this year’s TinCaps hit more than any team in Fort Wayne history.
Nick Schulz blasted two homers Tuesday – one a grand slam – and Fernando Perez also went yard to help set a franchise record of 98 homers, bettering by one the mark they set in their Midwest League championship season of 2009.
You give them a pat on the back and say, Way to go,’ but if you start to focus on the home run, you lose sight of how to hit a home run, Collins said. It’s about the process more than result.
The pages of the record books were flipped heavily throughout a 12-3 romp against Bowling Green at Parkview Field.
Perez opened the scoring in the first inning with a two-run blast, his team-high 17th of the season. Jake Patterson set the franchise mark with 20 in 1997, and Perez has six games left to catch Patterson.
The versatile infielder caught current major leaguer Will Venable on Tuesday for Fort Wayne’s single-season RBI record of 91.
It means a lot, Perez said. I feel happy that I’m just doing my job. My teammates help me because that success comes along with them.
Perez had no idea he was close to Venable’s mark, and he said he wouldn’t try to chase after Patterson.
As it stands now, Perez’s home run total is tied with Jordan Pickens for fourth-most on the club list. Ryan Radmanovich and Jose Valentin each posted a season with 19 dingers.
With 19 hits to go around, Perez was hardly the lone star.
Schulz went 5 for 5 with the grand slam, a solo shot and RBI single. As if five hits and six RBI weren’t enough, two of the hits came against D.J. Slaton, who played with Schulz at San Jose State.
It felt pretty good, Schulz said. Him and I were boys.
Slaton at least got drafted in the 37th round last year – Schulz wasn’t picked at all.
So I had a fire in my belly with it, Schulz said. It’s crazy how the game of baseball can take you places.
Schulz’s five-hit performance was the 16th in team history and first since Yeison Asencio on July 29, 2012, against Great Lakes.
Schulz would be playing for the Schaumburg Boomers of the independent Frontier League had the Padres not signed him May 7.
Now he’s a .335 batter with eight homers and 28 RBI.
I have a ton of respect for Schulz, said Jeffery Enloe, who pitched six shutout innings Tuesday.
I did get drafted, but it wasn’t until the 37th round, so I know what he went through. He’s proving people wrong.
The TinCaps (58-75, 28-36 second half) inched closer to Bowling Green (60-72, 28-35) in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division playoff race.
If the TinCaps somehow pass the three teams in front of them to capture the wild card, they will thank the home run.
They have gone deep in 68 of their 133 games, and eight different players have hit at least eight homers.
I’m pumped for them, Collins said. Perez has been great. (Schulz) has worked hard. All that’s awesome.