COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. (Fort Wayne TinCaps) - The TinCaps lost in a pitchers' duel to the West Michigan Whitecaps, 2-1, on Thursday night at Fifth Third Ballpark. West Michigan's win forces a decisive Game 3 in the best-of-three Eastern Division Semifinals back at Fifth Third Ballpark on Friday night.
After Fort Wayne took a 1-0 lead in the third, West Michigan tied the game in the fourth and scored what held as the game-winning run in the seventh.
TinCaps starter Cody Hebner was phenomenal for five innings as he allowed only one run on one hit, one walk, and one hit-batter. The right-hander struck out eight. West Michigan's lone hit off Hebner came in the fourth when Raph Rhymes hit a two-out double to score Mike Gerber, who had a pitch graze his jersey earlier in the inning. That tied the game, 1-1.
Fort Wayne struck first when Nick Schulz hit a solo home run off Whitecaps starter Kevin Ziomek in the third inning.
Colby Blueberg relieved Hebner in the sixth and worked a scoreless frame. He stayed in the game in the seventh and conceded a one-out single to Dominic Ficociello. The next batter Domingo Leyba also singled to right field, enabling Ficociello to reach third base. Bennett Pickar followed with a sacrifice fly to center field to lift the home team to a 2-1 advantage.
Ronnie Richardson led off the top of the eighth inning with a single and reached second with one out, but was stranded. Dustin Peterson started the ninth with a single as well, but was stranded.
Although the TinCaps out-hit the Whitecaps, 7-5, Fort Wayne went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position in the game and left seven runners on base. West Michigan was 0-for-6 in those spots and left 5 on.
Game 3 is set for 7:00 p.m. at Fifth Third Ballpark on Friday. The TinCaps are scheduled to start Kyle Lloyd against Jonathon Crawford.
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