Fort Wayne captures first-ever MWL title with 4-3 win

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From the Box Score:

Fort Wayne captures first-ever MWL title with 4-3 win

The Fort Wayne TinCaps won the first championship in franchise history with a 4-3 victory over the Burlington Bees, Thursday at Community Park. Fort Wayne finished a three-game sweep as four relievers combined on 3.2 scoreless frames and Jaff Decker belted a two-run homer. It is the first Midwest League championship in the 17-year history of the franchise.

Thursday’s win was Fort Wayne’s 101st of the year, counting regular-season and playoff games. That total ties the Midwest League record set by the 1978 Appleton Foxes, who won 97 regular-season games and four more in the postseason on their way to a title.

The TinCaps took advantage of a Burlington mistake as they jumped ahead in the 2nd. Cole Figueroa reached on a one-out error and later scored on Robert Lara’s sacrifice fly.

In the 3rd, Blake Tekotte ripped a double down the right-field line, went to third on a single by Decker and scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Vince Belnome.

Fort Wayne doubled the lead in the 5th as Daniel Robertson led off with a triple and Decker followed with a two-run blast over the right-field fence to make it 4-0 Fort Wayne.

TinCaps LHP Mike Watt kept the Bees in check through four innings, facing two batters over the minimum. Burlington got to watt with a three-spot in the 5th. Juan Graterol led off with his first home run of the season to cut the lead to 4-1. Two batters later, Fernando Garcia singled up the middle, stole second and third, then scored when Patrick Norris reached on an error. Adrian Ortiz then clubbed a two-out RBI single to make it a 4-3 game.

From there, the Fort Wayne bullpen took over. RHP Alexis Lara delivered 1.1 innings, LHP Zach Herr retired the only batter he faced, then RHPs Nick Schumacher and Brad Brach worked scoreless innings. For the championship series, the bullpen went 10.1 scoreless innings, allowing a hit, a walk and striking out ten.

Watt (8-4) was the winning pitcher, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits while striking out two. Burlington RHP Manauris Baez (9-7) took the loss, allowing four runs (three earned) across five innings. The TinCaps improved to 101-48 for the season. Burlington finished at 68-79 overall.

The TinCaps return home to Fort Wayne and will host a championship rally at Parkview Field on Friday at 6:30pm.

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