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Fort Wayne clinches MWL title berth09/11/2012 1:20 AM ET
By Robert Emrich / Special to MLB.com
The key to the TinCaps' win Monday might have been a miscue in the field.
Jace Peterson hit a two-RBI double as part of a six-run sixth inning as Class A Fort Wayne defeated Lake County, 13-6, to advance to the Midwest League Championship Series on Monday.
With the bases loaded and the game tied, 4-4, the Padres' No. 18 prospect doubled to left field, scoring Kyle Gaedele and Tyler Stubblefield. Peterson then scored on Yeison Asencio's two-run single.
Gaedele had helped the TinCaps jump out to an early 4-0 lead, clearing the bases with his second double of the game. He added another key two-bagger in the sixth.
With the TinCaps clinging to a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the third, Jake Lowery hit a ball that fell between Peterson at shortstop and Gaedele in left field that tied the game.
"I told them in the dugout, now that you guys made those mistakes you have to let that go," manager Jose Valentin said. "The game doesn't stop, you have to move on. The damage is done, now it's about looking forward. Both of them came up big in that sixth inning, Gaedele started the inning with the double and Peterson got the big hit with the bases loaded."
Starter James Needy exited after allowing four runs over the first 2 2/3 innings. Colin Rea took over and tossed three shutout innings, allowing three hits while fanning three. The 22-year-old right-hander was credited with his first win of the playoffs.
"[Rea] was outstanding," Valentin said. "He went up there with one thing in mind -- to throw strikes, get a 'W' and help the team win. He was able to keep the game tied and our offense came up in the sixth and blew it out. After that, we didn't look back. It was a great outing for him, to be able to hold the game the way he did and give us a chance to come back."
Lee Orr hit a solo homer to open the scoring and Asencio capped the night with a two-run homer in the ninth for Fort Wayne.
After posting a losing record in the first half, the TinCaps put together a 38-32 record after the All-Star break to clinch a Wild-Card berth. Comprised of players who, for the most part, are playing in their first full season, Valentin credited them with not hitting the wall.
"The one thing about these kids is that they never give up, they work hard all year round," he said. "They didn't show any fatigue at all. They haven't showed me that they're tired, they show up early, work early, hit in the cage early, they do everything like it's the first game of the season. I think that's because they know it's about winning.
"This is the time when you can't be thinking about how tired you are, postseason is about starting from zero. This is the one opportunity that doesn't show up every day. Who knows when the opportunity comes up again to be a champion?"
Valentin, who hit 249 homers in 16 Major League seasons, is in his first season managing in the Minor Leagues. With the TinCaps in the Finals for the first time since winning the Midwest League in 2009, Valentin reflected on his first season with fondness for his players.
"I'm happy because being in this position in my first year as a manager, that is something I can't ask for anything better," Valentin said. "I give all the credit to my players, they are the ones that make me a better manager. They are the ones that put me in this position. Players make the manager. I'm just so proud of my guys and they have me where we are right now. The reason that I'm looking like a good manager is because they work for me."
Fort Wayne faces Wisconsin in Game 1 of the Midwest League Finals on Wednesday.
Lowery homered and drove in three runs for the Captains.