Justin Baum staked the TinCaps to an early lead with a home run to left field on a 2-1 count. Baum was originally slated to play third base but was struck on the inner thigh on his left leg by a Kevin Hansen liner during batting practice. Baum iced up but had a noticeable limp coming into the box for his first at-bat.
“You can’t ask for much more – our guys have stepped up,” Erik Davis said of the hitters giving the starting staff early leads.
“I just feel really comfortable at the plate,” Baum said. “I made a few minor adjustments with Tornicasa. It is a little sore but once I was in the game I didn’t even think about it.”
“He was a little bit stiff and his concern was moving around in the field so we stuck him in at DH,” Dascenzo said. “It worked out well – he hit a nice ball out of the park to give us the first two runs to get the momentum going.
“He is swinging at good pitches and seems to be more relaxed. A new scenario works out well.”
The TinCaps put up a four-spot in the fifth, sending eight men to the plate.
After a ground out to begin the inning, Blake Tekotte was hit by a pitch. Drew Cumberland executed a hit-and-run to put runners on the corners. Dan Robertson then delivered a line drive single to right. Allan Dykstra walked after a wild pitch to load the bases. Cole Figueroa drove a ball into the left-center field gap to clear the bags and put Fort Wayne up 6-0.
“You feel a confidence when we score early,” Figueroa said. “I think it kills the team’s momentum and sets the tone for the game when we score early.”
“They are doing what we are trying to do,” hitting coach Tom Tornicasa said. “We are not doing it in one or two at-bats – we have been doing it the whole game. That is why we are having the success we are having.
Erik Davis twice induced a much-needed double play grounder to avert trouble. He notched one in the second with a pair on base and collected an inning-ending rally killer in the fifth.
Davis got into trouble again in the sixth. A leadoff single was followed by a one out double to break the shutout bid. After notching a ground out, Davis saw his night come to an end. Colin Lynch replaced him and got the final out of the inning.
“I had to get past that last outing and hopefully tonight was the night,” Davis said. “I felt (the breaking ball more) going through the game. Having seen these guys 15 times or so I thought they would get more aggressive the second time through the lineup. The first time through the order I threw one offspeed pitch as the first-pitch (of the at-bat). As we went on, I started mixing in the curveball and changeup more on the first-pitch. That helped to keep them off-balance.”
Robertson pushed the lead back to six with a solo homer to lead off the bottom of the seventh.
“That just shows them that they are able to do that and stop the momentum,” Dascenzo said.
“Dougie really preaches on ‘how you respond’,” Robertson said. “That is the difference at all levels. How are you going to respond? Are you going to run away or stand your ground and fight? A team that you have beat as many times as we have – you jump on them early and just give them that thought.”
Rob Musgrave gave up a run on two hits and a wild pitch in his lone inning of work, making the final score 7-2.
Chadd Hartman received a pinch-hit appearance in place of Blake Tekotte who was hit by two pitches – his first at-bat in Fort Wayne. The outfielder took a 1-1 pitch up the middle of the diamond for a single. Hartman played the top of the ninth in left field, pushing Robertson to center.
“He came through with a base hit and was excited and happy and so are we,” Dascenzo said.
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