Fort Wayne, IN - In front of 8,643 fans, the largest crowd in Parkview Field history, the South Bend Silver Hawks defeated the Fort Wayne TinCaps, 2-1, Thursday night. The Silver Hawks limited the TinCaps to one hit through the first eight innings, improving to a perfect 7-0 against Fort Wayne this season.
Manager Jose Valentin said that the stadium's largest crowd provided a boost for the team Thursday night.
"It's nice to play in front of a crowd like that. You can't ask for better than this: a beautiful ballpark and a crowd that loves the game of baseball. I'm happy to see the people here support our team. As a player, that's how I liked to play, with the excitement of a big crowd. Hopefully we can continue to see crowds like this, and even bigger come the playoffs when we'll need the crowd to support us. The stadium and crowd made it feel like playing in a big league field," the second-year manager said.
The Silver Hawks (45-25, 1-0) knocked home single runs in the second and fourth innings, both charged to Fort Wayne (43-27, 0-1) starter Adys Portillo (0-1) who worked 3 2/3 innings in his second outing with the TinCaps this season. South Bend's second-inning offense started with a one-out double by catcher Ronnie Freeman. He advanced to third on a wild-pitch, and came in to score one batter later. Alex Glenn, the batter following Freeman, singled to first baseman Luis Tejada, and Freeman scored on that same play as Tejada's throw to Portillo, who was covering first, eluded the pitcher.
The second South Bend run came on a Freeman two-out RBI single in the fourth. Fidel Pena had walked, stolen second, and scampered home ahead of a throw from TinCaps center fielder Alberth Martinez.
South Bend starter Blake Perry (4-3) held the TinCaps hitless through the first four innings, despite walking three batters and hitting one in that span. Fort Wayne's first hit was a Martinez RBI double in the fifth, scoring Corey Adamson, who had walked and stolen second. The only other hit by the TinCaps in the game came off of Adamson's bat in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs. He would not score, as RJ Hively converted his 19th save in 20 tries.
Walker Weickel, who came on in relief of Portillo, allowed a double to Alex Glenn in the top of the fourth, and then proceeded to retire the next sixteen batters in a row. In the process, the 19-year-old Weickel struck out a career-high nine batters, shattering his previous career-best of five, which he had accomplished in his last start.
"It's incredible that these fans of Fort Wayne and the surrounding area continue to fill-up Parkview Field and show us support," Weickel said after the game. "From all the places we've gone, we definitely have the best fans in all of minor league baseball."
The record crowd of 8,643 breaks the previous mark of 8,577, which was the paid attendance on April 5th, 2012, last year's opening night at Parkview Field.
Game two of the three-game series between the TinCaps and Silver Hawks is scheduled for Friday night at 7:05. The scheduled starters are Zach Eflin for Fort Wayne and Brad Allen for South Bend. The game can be seen on XFINITY 81 and heard on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com.