COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. – On a night when two former TinCaps were showcased in the MLB All-Star Game, Fort Wayne’s current shortstop shined. Justin Lopez had a three-hit game, including a home run, as the TinCaps beat the West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers affiliate), 6-2, on Tuesday night at LMCU Ballpark for their third consecutive win.
Initially, both starting pitchers held serve through the first four innings of this series opener. For the TinCaps (27-33), left-hander Erik Sabrowski didn’t allow a hit in the first three innings of his first professional start. However, Whitecaps starter Brendan White matched Sabrowski with five scoreless frames of his own.
The Whitecaps (27-32) struck first in the bottom of the fifth. Whitecaps first baseman Rey Rivera led off the inning with a 414-foot solo home run to take a 1-0 lead.
Aside from the Rivera homer, Sabrowski dominated. Across his five innings, the Edmonton, Alberta, native struck out six and walked just one.
Fort Wayne’s initial response came in the top of the sixth, taking the lead on a two-run home run for the 21-year-old shortstop. The blast was Lopez’s seventh home run of the year. His 39 RBIs on the season rank eighth in High-A Central.
After West Michigan equalized with a two-out RBI single from right fielder Danny Cabrera in the sixth, the TinCaps rode center fielder Jawuan Harris to a tie-breaking third run just before the seventh inning stretch. Harris pelted a double to right field, tagged and advanced to third on a fly ball, and came in to score on a wild pitch by Whitecaps reliever Bryce Tassin.
In the eighth, the TinCaps added insurance with baserunning wizardry at the end of the inning. With left fielder Grant Little at third base after his season-high third hit of the night, third baseman Ethan Skender intentionally got caught in a rundown in between first and second, allowing Little to score before Skender was tagged for the final out of the inning.
The ‘Caps added two more in the ninth on an RBI single from designated hitter Reinaldo Ilarraza, and a run-producing infield single from right fielder Agustin Ruiz for his team-leading 40th RBI of the season to make it 6-2.
Sam Williams, Felix Minjarez, and Austin Smith teamed up out of the bullpen to preserve the victory.
Meanwhile, in Denver, Fernando Tatis Jr., a 2017 TinCap, and Trea Turner, who called Parkview Field home in 2014, represented the National League.
Next Game: Wednesday, July 14 at West Michigan (7:05 p.m.)
· – Fort Wayne Probable Starter: RHP Matt Waldron
· – West Michigan Probable Starter: LHP Adam Wolf
Listen: 1380 The Fan & 100.9 FM | TinCapsRadio.com