FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Fort Wayne TinCaps bombarded the West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers affiliate) with an eight-run second inning to win, 10-5, on Friday night at Parkview Field. The TinCaps bats were fueled by a crowd of 8,045, the largest home crowd in Fort Wayne since 2019.

The 2020 Minor League Baseball season was lost during the pandemic, and last season the ballpark’s capacity was limited for much of the season due to health and safety protocols.

The TinCaps entered the bottom of the second inning trailing 2-0 due to a two-run home run from Whitecaps first basemen Jake Holton off The 400 Club in straightaway center field back in the first. In response, Brandon Valenzuela and Matthew Acosta kicked off the second with a pair of singles to left and center field, respectively. Jack Stronach walked to load the bases, and Reinaldo Ilarraza picked up his first RBI of the year on a walk one batter later. Down 2-1, the fans lit the fuse for the TinCaps offense. Ripken Reyes rocked a ball off the right-center field wall just in front of a packed Ruoff Mortgage Lawn to drive in a pair of runs. Then, Corey Rosier bounced a single over the head of West Michigan second basemen Wenceel Perez to drive in another, and Robert Hassell III paralleled the left-field line with a single to make it 5-2. Two batters later, with another run in, Valenzuela stepped up to the plate for the second time. The catcher pulled a ball to right field that rolled to the warning track to plate two more runners. The TinCaps led 8-2 at the end of two innings.

The offense continued pushing after the eight-run second inning. In the seventh, Olivier Basabe was hit by a pitch and Stronach walked again – one of three walks on the day for the first basemen. Ilarraza punched Basabe in with his first base hit of the season to extend the lead to 9-5 at that point. In addition to the thousands of screaming fans, Ilarraza’s teammates rose to the top step of the dugout to cheer on the left fielder. Fort Wayne added one more insurance run with an Acosta sacrifice fly that scored Rosier in the eighth. Both Acosta and Rosier finished with multiple hits in the game.

Luke Boyd entered in the ninth inning and induced a ground ball to deep second base that Reyes flipped to Jarryd Dale at shortstop to begin a game-ending 4-6-3 double play. The TinCaps evened the series at two games apiece in front of the big crowd that was then treated to a fireworks show. 

Next Game: Saturday, May 21 vs. West Michigan Whitecaps (6:35 p.m.)
· Fort Wayne Probable Starter: LHP Robert Gasser (No. 9 Padres prospect)
· West Michigan Probable Starter: RHP Dylan Smith (No. 9 Tigers prospect)