Lansing, Michigan (Indiana's NewsCenter)- Trailing 6-0 after four innings, the Fort Wayne TinCaps scored nine unanswered runs en route to a 9-6 win over the Lansing Lugnuts. Fort Wayne advances to the Midwest League Eastern Division Championship Series for the second consecutive season, and will play the winner of the Lake County-Bowing Green series.
The game turned over the course of the final three innings, as the TinCaps scored seven of their nine runs in that span. Lee Orr proved the catalyst, going 3-5 with a home run, two doubles and three runs batted in. Five different members of the starting lineup provided at least one RBI.
Matt Wisler took the mound for the TinCaps, but did not escape the fourth inning. After allowing just one home run during the regular season, Wisler allowed a third inning, three-run home run to Chris Hawkins, which opened the scoring. The Lugnuts scored three more times in the bottom of the fourth inning, and Wisler’s night was done after 3 2/3 innings. He allowed a career-high six earned runs, gave up six hits, walked one and struck out two.
The TinCaps got on the board with two fifth-inning runs against Lansing starter Justin Nicolino. The lefthander, who had gone 3-0 in three regular season games against Fort Wayne, gave up a leadoff single to Travis Whitmore and issued a one-out walk to Kyle Gaedele. Travis Jankowski then singled to load the bases. Jace Peterson’s fielder’s choice put Fort Wayne on the board and Gaedele scored on a fielding error by third baseman Brett Lawrie, who was with the Lugnuts on a Major League Baseball Rehab assignment from the Toronto Blue Jays. Lawrie committed two errors in the game.
After a scoreless sixth, Fort Wayne attacked the Lansing bullpen. A nine-batter seventh inning brought home four runs, which began with Orr’s solo home run over the fence in right field. Jeremy Baltz, playing in his second Midwest League game, walked with the bases loaded, making it 6-4 in favor of Lansing. Austin Hedges used an RBI groundout to make it 6-5, and an infield single from Duanel Jones tied the game at six.
Lansing closer Ajay Meyer, who led the Midwest League with 33 saves, entered in the top of the eighth, the game tied, and gave up a two-out RBI single to Peterson, which put the TinCaps in the lead for good. Orr came through again in the ninth with a two-out, two-run double to left to set the final tally at 9-6.
Matt Stites capped off a nearly perfect night from the bullpen with his second consecutive save, only allowing one hit in the ninth inning. Fort Wayne relievers worked 5 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up five hits, one walk, and striking out seven. The win went to Luis De La Cruz, who worked 1 1/3 innings.
The six-run deficit marks a new season-high for the largest comeback win. The prior high-water mark was four, which came in a 7-6 win over the Lugnuts on August 28. The TinCaps will take on the winner of the Lake County-Bowling Green series in the Midwest League Eastern Division Championship series on Saturday. The location, starting time and pitching matchups are still to be determined.
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