For Colin Rea, it took a step backward to take a step forward.
Now, the Padres prospect has the Fort Wayne TinCaps one win away from the Midwest League Championship Series.
Rea allowed a run on three hits over seven innings on Sunday night as Fort Wayne beat South Bend, 5-2, setting up a one-game showdown in the Eastern Division finals.
The Silver Hawks took the opener of the best-of-3 series on Saturday in Fort Wayne, but the TinCaps responded by ending a nine-game losing streak in South Bend. Game 3 is Monday at Four Winds Field.
"That was right on time, getting our first win here of the season," Fort Wayne manager Jose Valentin said. "It was tough. We had to win or our season was over and we had to do it [in South Bend], where we hadn't won all season. The guys realized that this is it. They went up there and threw all the bullets to try and give ourselves one more chance. We played a great ballgame, starting from defense, great pitching by Colin Rea and clutch hits."
Rea, an 11th-round pick in last year's Draft, was 0-5 with a 6.07 ERA for Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore before he was sent back to Fort Wayne. Used mostly in the bullpen, he went 2-1 with a 2.09 ERA with the TinCaps.
"It was obviously tough at first, knowing that you're going to get sent down, but I felt like I came to Fort Wayne with nothing to lose and everything to gain," Rea said. "I stayed positive with every outing. I had a few rough outings, but for the most part, I think a big part of it was staying positive.
"Mostly, the mental part of the game is different for me. Burt [Hooton], our pitching coach, does a really good job of preaching confidence and feeling the ball in your hand. We made a few tweaks in my mechanics, keeping my shoulders level and attacking hitters with my stuff. The main thing is believing that my stuff is good enough to get hitters out."
Padres No. 6 prospect Hunter Renfroe staked Rea to a 1-0 lead in the sixth with a solo homer to left field, but Brandon Drury tied it with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning.
Fort Wayne scored four runs in the eighth away, with Gabriel Quintana's two-run homer the big blow.
Silver Hawks starter Robert Coe also was impressive, allowing one run on five hits over six innings.
In other action:
Beloit 4, Quad Cities 3
Chris Bostick slugged a two-run homer in the first inning and added an RBI single in the second as the Snappers forced a decisive third game in the other semifinal series.
Brett Vertigan went 2-for-3 with an RBI for Beloit, which hosts Game 3 on Monday night.
Leadoff man Anthony Kemp had two hits, including a run-scoring single, for the River Bandits. Box score»