Comstock, Michigan (Indiana's NewsCenter)- The Fort Wayne TinCaps snapped a four-game losing streak Thursday night, using a four-run eighth inning to break a scoreless tie and defeat the West Michigan Whitecaps, 4-1.
Neither team was short of offensive opportunities over the first seven innings, as Fort Wayne (33-26, 63-66) had three times put a runner into scoring position and stranded seven runners on base. West Michigan (30-29, 66-63) left the bases loaded in the third, had a runner thrown out at home in the fourth and left a runner at third in the seventh.
In the eighth it was the TinCaps that broke through, powering ahead to have six straight runners reach base against relievers Nick Avila (2-3) and Will Clinard. Travis Jankowski and Jace Peterson both reached with one out, and Travis Whitmore made it a 1-0 game with a double to score Jankowski. The Whitecaps then intentionally walked Yeison Asencio, which loaded the bases. Lee Orr followed with a two-run single, and Austin Hedges singled home Asencio, capping the scoring at 4-0.
Matt Stites pitched the ninth for Fort Wayne, and allowed one run to score. It was the just the third earned run allowed all season by Stites, and the first he had given up since May 29th. His ERA rose from 0.42 to 0.61. Johnny Barbato (6-1) picked up the win, throwing two scoreless innings in relief of starter James Needy.
In his third start of the year, Needy went a season-high six innings, scattering six hits, walking two and striking out one. He faced a bases-loaded jam in the third, but worked out of it by drawing a two ground outs and a lineout. In the fourth he allowed a single to Jason King, who advanced to second and then third on back-to-back ground outs. On a pitch that eluded catcher Austin Hedges, King broke for home, but was thrown out as Hedges zipped the ball to Needy, who blocked the plate and applied the tag for the third out.
The rubber match of the three-game series is scheduled for Friday night at 7:10 PM. The scheduled starters are Matt Wisler for the TinCaps and Chad Smith for the Whitecaps.
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