Jeff Nycz (Mid-South Images)

TinCaps ride Padres pitching prospects Jake Nix, Austin Smith to Victory

The TinCaps got a big night from their top three 2015 draft picks just a week before the 2016 draft as Jake Nix and Austin Smith tag-teamed a stellar pitching performance and Austin Allen blasted his third homer of the year.

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The TinCaps rode strong outings from Jake Nix and Austin Smith to a 4-1 victory Saturday night. The Padres’ top two picks in last June’s draft combined to allow just four hits while recording nine strikeouts against a Dayton Dragons offense that came in with a league-worst .596 OPS.

Smith picked up his first professional victory as the second guy in on his piggyback turn with Nix, working five scoreless frames. The big Floridian held his mid-90s velocity throughout his appearance, hitting 94 on his last pitch of the night. It’s the first time Smith has gone five innings as a professional.

“I’ve been piggybacking Jake for a couple games and I’m starting to get used to it,” said Smith. “I had great feel for my pitches, got myself under control and just went out there and had fun.”

Nix was almost as effective as the starter after a bit of a slow start. The game was delayed by a bit more than an hour because of rain, and Nix looked a bit tight when he finally took the mound. He gave up a bunt single, a walk and a lined single to center in his first 18 pitches before settling in to get a weak grounder to first and two strikeouts.

He only surrendered one more hit and a walk over the next three frames, striking out four more. The first inning single was the only ball he allowed out of the infield.

“I felt like that first inning, mechanically I just wasn’t where I needed to be and I was leaving balls up so they could keep fouling them off,” said Nix. “But once I settled in, I felt really good and like I was throwing the ball where I needed to.”

The TinCaps offense was held in check through the first five innings, but Michael Gettys opened the sixth with a single to right. Austin Allen, who’d lunged at a couple of pitches in earlier at-bats against by lefty starter Ty Boyles, then launched a moonshot to the grass berm right-center field to give the TinCaps their first lead of the series.

The club then strung together three straight singles and got an assist from a Dayton error to plate two additional runs.

NOTES: Jhonatan Peña continued his hot streak, collecting two singles on the night. He’s now hit in seven straight games. Ruddy Giron, who has managed to stay positive in the face of two rough months, had a single and walk and looked smooth on all his chances in the field. The 19-year-old shortstop continues to show good hands, footwork and arm, but sometimes is still thinking through the plays instead of just relying on his instincts. ... Tyler Moore continues to settle into his outfield role. The speedster, who played only on the dirt in college, made a nice catch running deep into the left field corner in the sixth and dove to catch a ball in the ninth.

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