Lansing, Michigan- The Fort Wayne TinCaps secured a narrow victory against the Lansing Lugnuts, defeating the first half champions, 7-6, and earning a split of the four-game series at Cooley Law School Stadium. The TinCaps churned out a season-high 18 hits, all singles, and overcame their largest deficit of the season in the win.
Travis Jankowski began the night with a single to center field, stretching his hitting streak to a season-high-tying 11 games, and came in to score on a Travis Whitmore RBI single, giving Fort Wayne (35-29-66-68) a 1-0 lead after the top of the first inning.
TinCaps starter Ruben Mejia could not hold the lead, as he allowed Lansing (32-30, 79-52) to score twice in both the second and third innings, which made it a 4-1 Lugnuts advantage. Cody Hebner let up one run in the fourth, making it 5-1.
Prior to Tuesday night, the largest deficit the TinCaps had overcome to win a game in 2012 was three runs. Down by four, Fort Wayne scored four times on three consecutive run-scoring hits from Yeison Asencio, Travis Whitmore and Austin Hedges to tie the game.
In the top of the sixth, the TinCaps added two more runs, with Travis Jankowski picking up an RBI single and Jace Peterson scoring a run on a groundout. Jankowski finished the night 4-5, marking his first four-hit game as a professional.
The lead held at 7-5 heading to the bottom of the eighth. Jeremy Gigliotti came on to pitch and was removed after two batters . He hit Kevin Patterson and walked Andy Fermin, which prompted Manager Jose Valentin to bring on Matt Stites for a six-out save. Stites avoided danger in the eighth by striking out two of the three batters he faced.
In the ninth, Stites, who had allowed three runs in 44 innings of work, gave up a leadoff home run to Nick Baligod, which shrunk the TinCaps lead to one, 7-6. Jason Leblebijian and Chris Hawkins hit back-to-back singles, which put the tying and winning runs on base. Stites then retired the next three batters, earning the save.
Luis De La Cruz (5-8) earned the victory with two scoreless innings of relief. Lansing’s Blake McFarland (5-6) took the loss.
Fort Wayne is once again tied with Lake County in the second half standings. With six games remaining, the TinCaps and Captains hold a two-game edge over West Michigan. Due to Midwest League tiebreakers if Lake County and Fort Wayne were tied at the end of the regular season, the Captains would be the second half champions and the TinCaps the second half wild card.
The TinCaps return home Wednesday for the start of a three-game series against the West Michigan Whitecaps at 7:05. The scheduled starters are James Needy for Fort Wayne and Wilsen Palacios for the Whitecaps.
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