The TinCaps scored the first and last runs of the game; Valdez lifted a first-inning sacrifice fly, but the Hot Rods responded with eight runs in the top of the second. Brett Nommensen pounded a three-run homer to make it 6-1. Later in the inning, Ryan Wiegand drove in a run with a single and Gabe Cohen ripped a two-out RBI double to push the deficit to 8-1.
In the fifth, the Hot Rods tacked on another run when Nommensen singled home Dustin Biell to put the TinCaps down, 9-1.
Fort Wayne scored a run in the fifth on Rico Noel's RBI fielder's choice and put up three more in the sixth: one on Griffin Benedict's groundout, one on Noel's infield hit and another when Danny Payne was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, making it 9-5.
The Hot Rods extended their lead in the seventh; Robi Estrada hit a sacrifice fly, then Bennett Davis sliced an RBI single to right to balloon the margin to 11-5.
The TinCaps came right back thanks to Benedict's two-out, two-run double in the seventh which made it 11-7. RHP Jason Adams, signed by the Padres two days ago, delivered a scoreless top of the ninth to set up the dramatic finish.
Nate Freiman and Edinson Rincon hit back-to-back singles to start the inning. Two batters later, Benedict hit a potentially game-ending double-play ball to short which was mishandled to load the bases with one out. Three straight four-pitch walks made it 11-10. Valdez swung at the first pitch, then hit a popup on a 1-1 pitch which was dropped by the catcher for an error. On the next delivery, Valdez hit a bouncer through the left side, scoring the tying and winning runs; Noel slid to the plate head-first to touch off the celebration.
Adams (1-0) picked up the win; Bowling Green RHP Alex Koronis (6-3) absorbed the loss.
Fort Wayne improved to 6-4 in the half, 42-38 for the season. Bowling Green dropped to 5-5 in the second half, 36-43 for the year.
The TinCaps and Hot Rods (Class-A Tampa Bay Rays) continue the three-game series Monday at 3:05 p.m. at Parkview Field. Fort Wayne LHP Mike Watt (4-4) gets the start against Bowling Green RHP Alex Colome (5-5).