Vince Belnome bounced into a double play with the bases loaded in the opening frame to score the TinCaps first run.
Simon Castro put down the first 10 batters he faced in order before hitting a batter. He netted a double play grounder to wipe away the base runner, allowing him to face the minimum across four. He walked the first batter he saw in the fifth inning before retiring the next five. Castro walked a pair with two outs in the seventh, ending his night in a tight 1-0 game. The right-hander induced nine ground ball outs and struck out five across 6.2 no-hit innings. He was pulled after 85 pitches.
"It was very exciting for me," Castro said. " I always try to do my best, and tonight my fastball, change, and slider were good pitches.
"Tonight my slider was working sometimes. I'd throw a few good sliders, then a few duds. That's not how it always works for me.
"If he doesn't walk those guys and gets three quick outs - maybe 80 pitches at the end of the seventh - heck man, I'm going to let him go for it," manager Doug Dascenzo said. "But it got to the point where he got tired, he lost some command, and we had Schumacher ready. That was one of the hardest times I've ever had to take a pitcher out, but you've got 24 other guys on this team and it was the right thing to do."
"Simon has been doing it all year and was outstanding tonight," catcher Adam Zornes said. "He didn't give up a hit and was keeping hitters off-balance by moving his fastball in and out. He also had a great slider and great changeup. When you have three good pitches and they are all working and you can throw that hard – it makes it tough on hitters."
"He's been pitching great all year long, and obviously he already has one no-hitter under his belt," Dascenzo added. "He's got an explosive fastball, a big league slider, and when he throws his changeup, it's pretty good too. So he's got three pitches and he's got command of all of them."
Nick Schumacher relived Castro with two men on and hit the first batter he saw on a 2-2 slider. He would strikeout the next batter to preserve the 1-0 margin.
"I did want to stay in, but I was kind of tired," Castro admitted. "I think the manager saw that, so he took me out. We won the game anyway, so that's what we're looking for.
"I was kind of thinking about it, but what can I say? It was exciting for me to be throwing a no-hitter again, but it didn't happen again."
"With Castro throwing, you can't make mistakes," Silver Hawks manager Mark Haley said. "You just have to hope you stay close like we did. He goes in and out, hits his spots with his fastball. He'll go up-and-in, then low-and-away; he rarely repeats locations."
Jaff Decker and Belnome opened up the eighth win successive singles. An error on a Cole Figueroa sacrifice brought Decker home. After Allan Dykstra was intentionally walked to load the bases, Yefri Carvajal hit a one-hopper that jumped over the shortstop's head for a single to improve the Fort Wayne lead to 3-0. Figueroa would be thrown out at home on the same play.
"Their starting pitcher – it was the first time we had seen him and he obviously had good stuff to be there game one starter," Zornes said. "We kept getting guys on and we struggled to put the nail in the coffin, letting them hang around. Their guy had a good two-seam sinker and we were hitting ground balls after we would get guys on."
The no-hit bid would be snapped in the next inning, as left-handed reliever Zach Herr surrendered a two-out single with a man on second to bring home a run, cutting the lead to 3-1.
Blake Tekotte, our offensive key to the series, went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored.
"The first game is always huge," Zornes said. "Now we can take a deep breath and not relax but keep doing what we have been doing all season. The success we have had all year, winning 94 games, was definitely a plus to show them that we are still for real.
"Winning the first game makes it easier on us."
"You never, ever take your opponent lightly, no matter who you're playing," Dascenzo said, despite going 16-4 over South Bend during the regular season. "You just can't do it, because any team can beat a team on any given day. That's how these guys went about it. That's how they went about it for 140 games in the regular season, and that's what we expect them to do every game in the postseason."
San Antonio lost 1-0 to Midland (down 0-1, best of five)
Ernesto Frieri walked the second batter he saw before retiring the next 16 batters he saw, facing the minimum over that time and striking out the side in the second. Graham Godfrey matched Frieri by throwing no-hit ball over five frames as well. Frieri would allow a two-out single on a sharp ground ball in the sixth but came through the frame unscathed. He would work seven, yielding two hits and a walk while fanning six in an 85-pitch outing.
Brandon Gomes worked two scoreless innings, giving up two hits and a walk while striking out two to send it into extra innings. The right-hander posted a 0.78 ERA in the second half of the season.
Evan Scribner suffered the loss. After working a perfect 10th, he allowed a pair of two out hits, a single followed by a double that scored the only run of the game. Scribner had blown four save opportunities against Midland this season and his ERA versus them was nearly double what it was versus the rest of the league.
The Missions also broke up the no-hit bid with a Cedric Hunter double two outs into the sixth. He was the second player to reach scoring position and the last one until the 10th. Hunter would notch a one-out double in the 11th but Craig Cooper grounded into a double play after a Logan Forsythe walk to end the game. His two doubles were the lone hits for San Antonio over the 11-inning affair.
Lake Elsinore lost 6-5 to Rancho Cucamonga (down 0-1, best of three)
Nick Vincent, the Storm leader this season with 15 holds, could not produce his 16th this day. He allowed a two-run homer with two outs in the seventh, turning a 5-4 lead into a 6-5 deficit.
Anthony Bass surrendered a one-out homer in the opening frame and yielded two more runs in the second before settling in. He would give up three runs on seven hits across five innings, walking two and striking out four.
Lake Elsinore scored all five of their runs in the second and third innings. Luis Martinez started the rally in the third with a leadoff single. An error put two men on and Andy Parrino sacrificed both runners over. Matt Clark then delivered a two-out single, bringing the Storm within one at 3-2. They would load the bases with successive singles by Keoni Ruth and Danny Payne but Felix Carrasco struck out swinging.
Martinez again started a rally in the following frame. He drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a two-out single by Parrino. Both would score on a Brian Joynt double – and a throwing error enabled Joynt to also touch home to give the Storm a 5-3 lead.
Rancho would get an unearned run off Colt Hynes to cut the deficit to one.
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