South Bend, IN - The Fort Wayne TinCaps' 2013 season came to a close Monday night at Four Winds Field at Coveleski Stadium in a 9-5 loss to the South Bend Silver Hawks in Game 3 of the best-of-three Eastern Division Championship Series. After a pitchers' duel for the first four innings, the Silver Hawks broke the game open in the bottom of the fifth inning by scoring five runs with two outs. The TinCaps showed their trademarked resiliency to pull within a run at 6-5 in the seventh, but South Bend had another two-out eruption in the eighth inning with three insurance runs.
With the game tied, 1-1, Fort Wayne starter Joe Ross retired the first two South Bend batters he faced in the fifth, but couldn't record the inning's final out. Andrew Velasquez and Socrates Brito both singled to bring up the Eastern Division's regular season RBI leader Brandon Drury. The Silver Hawks third baseman slugged a three-run homer over the left-field wall to put South Bend ahead 4-1. It was Drury's third home run in as many games in the series.
Things only got worse after that for Ross when the next batter Rudy Flores hit a slow roller to the left side of the mound for a base hit. Ross fielded the ball and threw to first base wildly, enabling Flores to reach third base on the play. After an intentional walk of Fidel Pena, Ross was removed from the game. South Bend, however, still wasn't done in the fifth. Ruben Mejia came on in relief and allowed back-to-back run-producing singles to balloon the Silver Hawks' lead to 6-1.
The TinCaps, who registered 30 come-from-behind wins in the regular season, showed fight in the ensuing half inning by scoring three times to claw back to 6-4. An RBI double by Hunter Renfroe and a run-scoring single for Luis Domoromo fueled the comeback effort. Fort Wayne again showed its mettle in the top of eighth with another run to trim its deficit to 6-5.
The Silver Hawks, though, quashed the TinCaps' comeback with their three-run eighth inning. Brito, who finished the game 4-for-5 at the plate, hit a bases-clearing triple against Trevor Gott.
South Bend starter Aaron Blair received credit for the win with 5 2/3 innings of work. The right-hander allowed four earned runs on six hits and struck out six.
Fort Wayne, which was shooting for its second consecutive Midwest League Championship appearance and third trip in five years, finished the campaign with a 72-67 regular season record and a 3-2 mark in the postseason. More fans visited Parkview Field in 2013 than ever before, as 410,459 Fort Wayne fans flocked downtown to support the TinCaps.