MIDLAND, Mich. – The TinCaps scored eight runs in the top of the ninth inning on their way to a 12-2 win over the Great Lakes Loons (Los Angeles Dodgers) on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Dow Diamond.
Though the offense became the story late, it was starting pitcher Austin Smith (W) who shined most of the day. The 20-year-old went a career-long 6 1/3 innings and struck out a career-high seven batters. He didn’t allow a hit through the first five frames. The only two runs against him came in the seventh.
Meanwhile, Fort Wayne (7-9) was having a tough time at the plate against Great Lakes (5-11) starter Jordan Sheffield. The 36th overall pick in last year’s draft used 65 pitches to throw four innings.
When the Loons went to the bullpen in the fifth with Luis De Paula (L), the TinCaps took advantage. Catcher Marcus Greene Jr. doubled and advanced to third base on a wild pitch. With two outs, designated hitter Reinaldo Ilarraza broke the ice with an RBI single. Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. followed with a two-run home run over the left-center field fence to make it 3-0.
After Great Lakes plated a pair in the seventh, Fort Wayne answered with a two-out Eguy Rosario RBI double in the eighth. Things got out of hand in the ninth. The first eight batters of the inning all reached base. The TinCaps had five hits and two walks, while benefitting from two Loons errors, as a dozen batters came up during the frame.
Left-hander Ben Scheckler (S) followed Smith and struck out four in his 2 2/3 innings.
The TinCaps set a new season-high for hits (15) and tied their season best for runs scored. It was the second consecutive Saturday that Fort Wayne scored 12 runs (last week at Bowling Green in a 12-7 win). Seven guys had at least one hit; eight reached base at least once. Five players drove in at least a run.
Fort Wayne has started its week-long road trip 2-1 and now has won four of its last five.