Fort Wayne, IN -- On a night when Parkview Field set a new single-season attendance record, the TinCaps suffered a 7-5 loss to the South Bend Silver Hawks in Game 1 of the best-of-three Eastern Division Championship Series on Saturday. After Fort Wayne rallied from a 5-1 deficit to tie the game, South Bend scored a pair of two-out runs in the top of the ninth inning to break a 5-5 tie.
TinCaps reliever Ruben Mejia entered with the game tied in the eighth inning and retired the first five batters he faced. But with two outs in the top of the ninth inning, he walked the Silver Hawks' number nine batter, Breland Almadova, on five pitches. Mejia then allowed a single to Andrew Velasquez, leading Fort Wayne manager José Valentín to summon left-hander Chris Nunn to face the left-handed batting Socrates Brito. The right fielder swung at Nunn's first pitch and hit it slowly up the middle into center field. TinCaps center fielder Alberth Martinez rushed to field the ball, proceeded to drop it and then fell down, as both Almadova and Velasquez scored to put the road team on top. Subsequently, South Bend closer Jimmie Sherfy retired Fort Wayne in order in the last of the ninth inning to earn the save.
Fort Wayne had tied the game, 5-5, with two runs in the seventh inning. Martinez hit a two-out, opposite-field single to score Tyler Stubblefield and Mallex Smith, who had both singled. The TinCaps also scored twice in the bottom of the fourth inning on an RBI groundout by Hunter Renfroe and a run-scoring single from Luis Domoromo.
The comeback was necessary after South Bend took a 5-1 lead with a four-run fourth frame. Brandon Drury led the inning off with a home run against Fort Wayne starter Max Fried. The Silver Hawks then added three unearned runs in the inning. South Bend's first run of the night came in the second on a solo home run by Fidel Pena.
Fried left the game after four innings, having allowed five runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks, with three strikeouts. The TinCaps, who knotted the game, 1-1, in the third inning on a Tyler Stubblefield home run, received three strong innings of relief from Matthew Shepherd. The right-hander limited South Bend to one hit and no walks, while fanning five.
The TinCaps had 2,486 supporters at Parkview Field Saturday night to raise the 2013 season attendance total to 410,459. That passed the previous franchise record of 408,044 fans to Parkview Field in 2012.
Fort Wayne travels to South Bend for Game 2 of the best-of-three Eastern Division Championship Series on Sunday at 5:05 p.m. Colin Rea is set to start for the TinCaps against the Silver Hawks' Robert Coe. The game can be heard on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com.