Game recap from the TinCaps:
TinCaps win emotionally charged game in Lansing
LANSING, Mich. (September 1, 2015) – In an intense environment at Cooley Law School Stadium on Tuesday night, the TinCaps downed the Lansing Lugnuts, 6-4, to win the three-game series and keep its first place lead over the West Michigan Whitecaps in the Eastern Division at four games. With six contests left in the regular season, Fort Wayne faces the second-place Whitecaps the next three nights in Comstock Park, Michigan.
The TinCaps need just three wins – regardless of what West Michigan does – to clinch their first division title since 2009.
The 19th meeting of the season between Fort Wayne (42-22, 74-58) and Lansing (29-34, 71-62) had a playoff feel to it. Neither team had a lead larger than two runs on Tuesday.
Starter Jose Castillo (W, 1-1) – who flew into the capital of Michigan from the west coast Tuesday morning – showed plenty of guts in his spot start. The lefty yielded just three hits over 5 2/3 innings. He allowed the game’s first run in the second frame when Alex Maldonado drove in D.J. Davis.
In the top of the fourth, the visitors answered with three scores. First, Franmil Reyes blasted his seventh long ball of the season tucked just inside the left-field foul pole. Then Franchy Cordero singled up the middle off of Lugs starter Chase Mallard (L, 6-7), and Luis Tejada drove him in with a hard-hit double to the left-center field gap. Rey Bruguera then plated Tejada, and Fort Wayne took a 3-1 lead.
After Lansing added a run in the fifth, Reyes stepped up to the plate to begin the road half of the sixth. He then drilled his second dinger of the night into the left field seats, becoming the first TinCap with a multi-homer game since Nick Schulz did it on August 26, 2014. It was Reyes’ first two-home run game of his career.
With nobody out in the bottom of the sixth, Lugnuts shortstop Richard Urena led off with a walk and scored after Jason Leblebejian tripled. Fort Wayne’s lead was trimmed to 4-3, with the tying run at third base. Castillo then retired the next two batters – including Midwest League MVP Ryan McBroom – and reliever Aaron Cressley came in to record the final out, inducing a groundout off of David Harris’ bat.
Cressley recorded a one-two-three seventh and the TinCaps gave the reliever an insurance run in the top of the eighth. Reyes singled – completing his 4-for-4 night – and was pinch-run for by Ruddy Giron, who later scored on Bruguera’s second run-scoring base hit.
Talk about production — Bruguera followed up his three-hit performance on Monday with two more base knocks on Tuesday and two RBIs.
Fort Wayne’s lead was 5-3 heading to the bottom of the eighth. Urena singled and then scored on another extra-base hit from Leblebejian. He represented the tying run once more in scoring position. Cressley next struck out McBroom looking, and after a walk to Davis, was lifted for T.J. Weir. The Kokomo, Indiana, native fanned David Harris for the second out. With Leblebejian still sitting in scoring position, Danny Jansen smacked a sinking liner into center field. Michael Gettys came charging in and made a game-saving diving catch for the inning’s final out.
The TinCaps added an insurance run in the ninth when Cordero drove in Trae Santos.
Reliever Kyle McGrath protected the two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, notching his third save of the year.
Fort Wayne received some clutch hitting from the bottom half of its order. The TinCaps five-to-nine batters went a combined 10-for-19, drove in all six runs and drew four walks.
The TinCaps open a three-game series with the Whitecaps on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Manager Francisco Morales calls on Pete Kelich (2-2, 3.79) to face West Michigan at Fifth Third Ballpark.
You can listen to the action on ESPN Radio 1380, Box Score, and the TuneIn Radio app starting at 6:45 p.m.
By Kevin Fitzgerald