It was a special bunch of players that assembled in Fort Wayne this summer. The unforgettable group will leave town as the first team to play with a new name in Parkview Field's inaugural season, and most importantly, to the first to clinch a division title.
"It was just a magical, magical season from start to finish," manager Doug Dascenzo said.
And win No. 101 was certainly the most thrilling. The TinCaps took a four-run lead off Jaff Decker's two-run homer and held on to beat Burlington, 4-3, completing a series sweep to clinch the Midwest League title.
The 'Caps scored in the second and third innings before Decker -- the Padres' first-round compensation pick in '08 -- doubled the cushion with one stroke. Starter Mike Watt allowed three runs -- one earned -- on four hits over 5 1/3 innings for the victory.
"We brought our closer [Brad Brach] in who's been strong all year long, and I'm looking over in center field [at Blake Tekotte], and there's one out, then two outs," Decker recalled. "We get the third hitter 0- 2 and then we just had the feeling like, 'OK, we're going to do this.'"
And the instant Bach got Hilton Richardson swinging for strike three, Decker and Tekotte ran in to join the joyous scrum of players haphazardly strewn in a pile around the mound.
The victory marked a 3-0 sweep over the Bees and gave the TinCaps their first championship in franchise history. Fort Wayne, who changed its name from the Wizards prior to this season, became a Padres' affiliate in 1999.
While the Wizards boasted some terrific teams in years past, according to third-year manager Dascenzo, this year's Fort Wayne squad was truly something special.
"They just came together right from day one," he said. "They loved to play the game of baseball, gelled instantly and kept it going all season long."
While opposing teams showed up to the yard at the scheduled time, the TinCaps came early and eager.
"We were showing up an hour or two before we need to be there just to hang out with each other," said Decker. "We are living with each other every day and still not getting sick of each other."
An uncommon camaraderie that undoubtedly came in handy down the stretch.
"It's a constant balancing act in developing individual skills as well as bringing them together and having them learn how to compete with each other and win together," Dascenzo said. "And that's the one thing that we have accomplished."
Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.