Fort Wayne, Ind. -- The TinCaps rallied for three runs with two outs in the ninth to claim a 4-3 win and sweep their series against South Bend on Thursday. The game-winner came around when Cubs third baseman Jesse Hodges threw wildly on a grounder by Kyle Overstreet, allowing pinch-runner Carlos Belen to come around from second.
The night started with a solid outing from Logan Allen, who gave up one earned run over 4.1 innings. The 19-year-old lefty worked with a fastball that hit 94, but gave up a homer to Cubs’ high-profile Cuban outfield prospect Eddy Martinez to open the second on a fastball that flattened out on him.
Allen then came back to blow away the next three hitters on ten pitches, recording two strikeouts and a weak liner to short.
“He’s just a competitor,” said TinCaps manager Anthony Contreras. “I’ve seen that from day one watching him pitch. Maybe it pissed him off a little bit. You see him kind of bear down and go to work.”
After a quick third, Allen again opened the fourth by giving up a double to Ian Rice, and had a runner on third with one out after a sacrifice bunt moved Rice over. But Allen again bore down and got a swinging strikeout and easy grounder to escape further damage.
“He’s been like that all year. He’ll have a little bit of a scuffle and you’ll see his tempo will pick up and he’ll start to get the ball and fire without thinking too much. To come back as a young kid like that and battle after a big home run, that’s huge.”
Allen showed solid feel for both his change-up and a big breaking curveball, keeping South Bend hitters off-balance. He recorded four strikeouts, but did issue a pair of walks when his fastball rode up out of the zone.
The late comeback erased a two-run deficit that was built in the sixth inning against reliever Blake Rogers. The righty, who works from an extreme closed set on the third base side of the mound, appeared to have gotten an inning-ending flyout by Martinez, but centerfielder Michael Gettys lost it and it wound up falling in for an RBI double
The miscue made it that much sweeter that the winning rally began when Gettys laced a one-out single back up the middle.
"One of the biggest things I think a kid can do is mature like that," said Contreras. "That's how you survive in this game. I think that's been one of the biggest things that's helped his game, is not carrying over his defense or an at-bat that went wrong. He's done a good job of staying in the moment and comes up big for us getting on base there."
After he was forced at second by Austin Allen, Jhonatan Peña yanked a double just inside the third baseline.
That brought up Brad Zunica, who had been 0-for-3 with two strikeouts on the night. The big first baseman stayed back on a two-strike change-up and yanked the ball into right field to plate the tying runs, and was heads-up enough to advance to second on an ill-advised throw by Martinez. That set up the winning run on Hodges’ throwing error.
Peña’s 3-for-4 night continued a recent hot-stretch that now includes a five game hitting streak and five multi-hit outings in his last nine contests. In that time, he’s raised his average 73 points and collected four of his seven extra-base hits on the year. The 22-year-old was a popular choice among some of the player development staff for a big year at the plate, so it’s good to see him turning it on.
The walk-off gave Gerardo Reyes the win after a scoreless inning of relief in which he sat comfortably at 94 MPH with his fastball and hit 96 twice.