Robert Lara's home run in the bottom of the 10th inning Monday sent Fort Wayne to a 4-3 victory over Great Lakes and into the Midwest League Championship Series against Burlington.
Lara, who was 0-for-15 in the series, hit the ninth pitch of the at-bat from Loons reliever Cole St. Clair over the wall in left-center field. Lara had hit .219 with two homers in 58 regular-season games.
"All season I've been struggling back and forth, and right there I was focused on trying to get on base. It just happened to be a 3-2 fastball up and in. Thank God it did go out," the 2008 18th-round pick said.
It was the second time in the playoffs that the TinCaps rallied to win after trailing late in the game. Fort Wayne trailed twice Monday before tying the game in the eighth.
Vincent Belnome, who was instrumental in Friday's comeback against South Bend in that series' clincher, knotted the game in the eighth with a two-out RBI double.
"All year we've battled, we've had a great year and every game it seems like we're not out of it," Lara said. "You just had that kind of feeling, it's just a certain swagger we have."
Simon Castro, who pitched 6 2/3 innings of no-hit ball against South Bend in the first round, was almost as good against the Loons. He allowed one run on four hits while striking out eight in 5 2/3 innings. Brad Brach gave up one hit and fanned two in two innings of shutout relief for the win.
Great Lakes starter Aaron Miller allowed a run on one hit and struck out four in six innings.
Fort Wayne will face Burlington in the Midwest League Championship Series, which starts Tuesday in Fort Wayne.
In other Midwest League action:
Burlington Bees 2, Cedar Rapids Kernels 1: Jason Taylor's first-inning two-run homer was enough for the Bees as Ivor Hodgson and the bullpen limited the Kernels to eight hits to advance to the Midwest League Finals. Box score