Comstock Park, MI -- The TinCaps turned a 3-2 nailbiter into a 9-2 lopsided final score with a six-run ninth inning in the opener of their series on the road against the West Michigan Whitecaps Wednesday night. Fort Wayne starter Zach Eflin threw seven innings of one-earned run ball to earn his fifth win of the season and five different batters drove in a run.
Both Eflin (5-5) and his counterpart Edgar De La Rosa (5-5) were strong from the opening inning, but the TinCaps eventually started the scoring in the third. Corey Adamson hit a one-out triple to the right-field corner and scored on a passed ball. Fort Wayne (12-19, 55-45) pushed a second run across in the fourth inning, as Gabriel Quintana singled and scored on Luis Domoromo's RBI double.
West Michigan (15-16, 48-53), however, responded to tie the game, 2-2, with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. Connor Harrell led off with a double and scored after a Jared Reaves flyball out to right field advanced Harrell to third base and a groundout by Adolfo Reina scored him. Then with two outs, Harold Castro doubled, stole third, and came in on a throwing error by catcher Rodney Daal, whose throw to third base on the steal attempt wound up in right field.
The TinCaps put up the go-ahead run in the top of the sixth thanks to a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Maxx Tissenbaum. That lead carried into the ninth, as Eflin shined. The 19-year-old from Florida allowed only four hits in his seven innings. Eflin threw 81 pitches to join Justin Hancock (now with Advanced-A Lake Elsinore) as the only TinCaps pitcher to toss seven innings twice this season. The right-hander lowered his season ERA to 3.02 and didn't walk a batter, while striking out three. He retired the final seven batters he faced in order, including strikeouts of the final two.
Fort Wayne busted the game open in the top of the ninth. West Michigan reliever Calvin Drummond gave up one hit and three walks to lead to four earned runs in 1/3 inning. Angel Nesbitt replaced Drummond but wasn't much more effective in allowing two runs (one earned) to finish the ninth. Diego Goris, Quintana, Domoromo, and Chris Burke all drove in TinCaps runs in the ninth.
Trevor Gott pitched the final two scoreless innings in relief of Eflin to pick up his second career save and second save in his last two games. The victory snaps Fort Wayne's two-game losing streak.
The TinCaps and Whitecaps play the second game of their three-game set on Thursday night at 7:00 at Fifth Third Ballpark. Lefty Max Fried (4-4, 3.79) is slated to start for Fort Wayne against West Michigan's Jake Thompson (0-3, 3.21). The game can be heard on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com.