It was almost an ideal Saturday night for Fort Wayne's Joe Ross as the TinCaps walked off with a 1-0, 12-inning win over the Dayton Dragons and boyhood teammate Robert Stephenson.
"Ideally, I would get the win, but I kind of figured that was how it would go. We'd both do great and leave it up to the bullpen," Ross said. "It was a great walk-off win for us."
Maxx Tissenbaum delivered an RBI single off Joel Bender (0-2) with one out in the 12th and Chris Nunn (5-0) picked up the win with three strikeouts over two scoreless innings.
Ross took a no-hitter into the sixth before Zach Vincej led off with a single to center field. It was the only hit the Dragons got off the Padres' No. 12 prospect, who struck out five and did not walk a batter over seven innings in his longest outing as a pro.
"My fastball, changeup and slider, all three were working great for me, and the command on all three was really there," Ross said. "The defense behind me put in a great effort, made great plays."
Stephenson matched Ross with seven shutout innings, yielding three hits and fanning eight to lower his ERA to 2.97. Over his last six starts, the Reds' No. 2 prospect is 4-0 with a 0.93 ERA and 50 strikeouts against five walks in 38 2/3 innings.
The two starters were travel ball teammates growing up in the Oakland area and played together for about four years. Their high schools weren't in the same zones, so Saturday night was the first time they pitched against each other.
"It's hard [to keep in touch] with how busy you are during the season, but we usually hang out during batting practice in the outfield," Ross said. "[We didn't] before the game, it's kind of a mental time to get ready, but we'll probably grab dinner tomorrow night."
Ross coaxed 14 ground balls on Saturday night but said that wasn't intentional.
"It's more early in the count, getting the hitter out within the first three or four pitches, minimizing my pitch count," he said. "It keeps the defense on their toes and the game moving."
Mallex Smith reached on a bunt single and scored in the 12th for Fort Wayne, which has won six in a row and trails first-place South Bend by five games in the Midwest League Eastern Division first-half race.