Bases loaded, two outs in a deciding playoff game is a situation players dream about when they're kids. Cole Figueroa made the most of his dramatic moment.
Figueroa hit a go-ahead two-run double in the eighth inning Friday as the Fort Wayne TinCaps defeated the upstart South Bend Silver Hawks, 5-4, to win their Midwest League best-of-3 first-round series.
"It was a definitely an awesome situation to be in, not just for me but the guys before," said Figueroa, the Padres' sixth-round pick in the 2008 Draft. "Getting a clutch hit like that is something you think about when you're growing up."
Figueroa's double capped an inning in which the TinCaps sent nine men to the plate. With Fort Wayne trailing, 4-2, Kevin Hansen started the rally with a one-out triple. Five batters later, Vincent Belnome cut the deficit to one with an RBI single, setting the stage for Figueroa.
The 22-year-old infielder described the TinCaps' dugout as feeling confident heading to the bottom of the eighth.
"This is how our team has been all year. We're always thinking we can come back from any deficit, just going up, starting with the first batter, and trying not to get it back with the first swing," he said. "I just got put in a situation where I could help the team."
The rally made a winner of reliever Nick Schumacher (1-0), who struck out three in three scoreless innings. Brad Brach worked around a hit in the ninth for his second playoff save after leading the league with 33 during the season.
The TinCaps won a franchise-record and Minor League-best 94 games this season, taking 16 of 17 meetings with the Silver Hawks. After dropping the series opener at home, South Bend stayed alive Thursday with a 12-7 triumph.
Silver Hawks starter Ryan Cook was in line for the win Friday after limiting Fort Wayne to two runs on three hits with six strikeouts in seven innings. But Victor Capellan (0-1) was charged with three runs on a hit and three walks while retiring two batters in the eighth. South Bend closer Justin Mace, who posted a 1.90 ERA during the season, allowed the hits to Belnome and Figueroa.
Reynaldo Navarro went 2-for-3, drove in two runs and hit .545 with seven RBIs in the series for South Bend.
Fort Wayne will face the Great Lakes Loons in the semifinals, beginning Saturday.
In other Midwest League action
Great Lakes Loons 3, West Michigan Whitecaps 2 (10)
Jaime Pedroza's 10th-inning homer sent the Loons to the semifinals in their first-ever playoff appearance. Cole St. Clair allowed two hits over three shutout innings to earn the win. Box score
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.