Bowling Green, Ky. - Behind a stellar pitching performance from Michel Baez (W) and a strong swing from catcher A.J. Kennedy , the TinCaps beat the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Tampa Bay Rays), 2-1, in Game 1 of the best-of-three Eastern Division Semifinals on Wednesday at Bowling Green Ballpark.
Fort Wayne leapt on the board first in the top of the second inning off Bowling Green starting pitcher Mikey York (L). With two outs, shortstop Gabriel Arias singled to left field. Kennedy followed by taking the first pitch he saw and launching it over the left-field wall for a two-run home run to put Fort Wayne up, 2-0. The homer was the second for Kennedy over his last four games.
The TinCaps maintained their lead thanks to Baez. The 21-year-old Cuban made a magnificent start, striking out nine batters in seven scoreless innings pitched. Baez allowed just five singles and only one walk.
Bowling Green cut the Fort Wayne lead in half in the bottom of the eighth inning. TinCaps relief pitcher Dauris Valdez struck out the first two batters he faced, but Miles Mastrobuoni singled for the Hot Rods to extend the inning. Garrett Whitley followed with a double that scored Mastrobuoni to cut the Fort Wayne lead to 2-1. Fort Wayne manager Anthony Contreras then brought closer Hansel Rodriguez (S) into the game to face Josh Lowe, the third hitter in the Bowling Green lineup. Rodriguez and Lowe battled to a full count, and on the ninth pitch of the at bat, Rodriguez struck out Lowe on a called third strike.
Rodriguez pitched a one-two-three bottom of the ninth inning to close the game out and secure the win for Fort Wayne. The frame included a strikeout, a groundout, and a fly out in foul territory down the right field line on a play where TinCaps right fielder Jack Suwinski reached over the wall down the right field line to make the catch for the final out of the game.
The TinCaps now have a chance to advance to the Eastern Division Championship with a win in Game 2 of the best-of-three Eastern Division Semifinals at Parkview Field on Thursday, September 7 (7:05 p.m.). If necessary, Game 3 will also be played at Parkview Field on Friday, September 8 (7:05 p.m.).
Tickets for the Midwest League Playoffs at Parkview Field are on sale at TinCapsTickets.com, by calling 260-482-6400, or by visiting the ballpark's Ticket Office during regular business hours. It'll be a Thirsty Thursday presented by Rudy's, meaning $1 domestic drafts and other drink specials will be available. Ticket prices are the same as in the regular season, starting at just $5.
Thursday, September 7 vs. Bowling Green (7:05 p.m.)
- TinCaps Probable Starter: RH Pedro Avila
- Hot Rods Probable Starter: RH Adrian Navas
Watch: Comcast Network 81
Listen: ESPN Radio 1380 & 100.9 FM / TinCapsRadio.com / TuneIn
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.