TinCaps recap: Lake County 3, Fort Wayne 0 (May 16, 2021).
Elliott Magnificent, But TinCaps Drop Series Finale
By Jack McMullen
Eastlake, Ohio (May 16, 2021) – In his third start of the season for the Fort Wayne TinCaps, left-handed pitcher Ethan Elliott was nearly perfect. But, Fort Wayne (4-7) dropped the series finale to the Lake County Captains (Cleveland affiliate) on Sunday afternoon at Classic Park, 3-0.
Elliott, the TinCaps’ Opening Day starter, opened his Sunday outing with a bang. He retired five of the first six Captains (8-4) hitters by strikeout, en route to 13 total strikeouts in six innings of work. The only runner to reach base for Lake County against Elliott was right fielder Austen Wade, who singled to left-center field in the third. Elliott promptly picked him off following the hit.
Sunday’s start for Fort Wayne’s 24-year-old left-hander from Knoxville, Tenn., lowered his season ERA to 0.60. He threw a professional career high 81 pitches — 56 for strikes (69%). His 28 strikeouts through his first 15 innings in 2021 not only lead High-A Central, but the entirety of Minor League Baseball.
The last time a TinCaps pitcher struck out 13 or more batters in a game was Aug. 8, 2017, when budding big leaguer Pedro Avila set Fort Wayne’s franchise record with 17 strikeouts over eight innings at Great Lakes. In that start, Avila had 12 strikeouts through six innings. Otherwise, on July 31, 2017, another rising major leaguer, Michel Baez, struck out 14 hitters in 6 2/3 innings at Parkview Field against the Dayton Dragons. Like Elliott, Baez recorded 13 Ks through six frames. (The second most strikeouts in a game by a Fort Wayne pitcher came in the club’s inaugural season in 1993 when recent Hall of Fame nominee LaTroy Hawkins struck out 15 against Cedar Rapids.)
As great as Elliott was, Captains starter Mason Hickman matched him step-by-step. The 2020 fifth-round draft pick out of Vanderbilt threw five no-hit innings, striking out seven and walking two.
The scoring for Lake County all came in one inning. Elliott was replaced by Sam Keating in the seventh, and the Captains pieced together a three-run frame, highlighted by a two-run double from Captains’ second baseman Aaron Bracho.
Offensively for the TinCaps, right fielder Dwanya Williams-Sutton and first baseman Luis Almanzar each produced a double.
The ‘Caps dropped five of the six games in the series to the Captains, but are back in action at Parkview Field on Tuesday night following a day off on Monday.