Fort Wayne and Burlington traded runs in the first. The Bees got on board quickly with three straight two out singles. The TinCaps answered when Dan Robertson singled with one out and stole second. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a ground out by Vince Belnome.
Bulrington edged ahead off starter Erik Davis in the third. A single and stolen base to open the inning placed a man in scoring position with nobody out. After Davis notched a strikeout, a single to left put the Royals affiliate up 2-1.
Davis was 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA across two starts versus Burlington during the regular season. He allowed two earned runs across 10.2 innings. Davis went six innings, giving up two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out five. The bullpen then delivered three scoreless innings – retiring all nine batters they faced.
"It goes back to what he has been doing all year," Robertson said. "Erik went out and did what he usually does. When he does it, we are not surprised because we know what he is capable of doing."
It wasn't until the fifth that the San Diego Padres Low-A club tied it up. Robert Lara, who sent Fort Wayne to the championship round with a homer the night before, singled with one out. He moved to third on a Keven Hansen knock. A balk called on the Burlington starter brought home Lara. The TinCaps would load the bases with one out but Jaff Decker and Belnome each struck out swinging.
Cole Figueroa started a three-run rally in the sixth. He doubled to leadoff the frame and was brought home on a Justin Baum double. Blake Tekotte recoded an infield single after a Lara walk and Dan Robertson brought home the third run of the inning by notching a single to right. Robertson went 3-for-4 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI. During the regular season, Robertson went 9-for-26 versus Burlington.
"I was trying to make sure I could make some impact, especially in championship games you want to get to the pitcher early," Robertson said. "I think that is all I was thinking about – trying to get on base and whenever guys were on just trying to get them in."
Fort Wayne extended the lead to 6-2 in the eighth. Lara reached for the third time in the game via a walk to open the frame and moved to second on a wild pitch. After going to third on a strikeout that was dropped by the catcher, he touched home on the second wild pitch of the inning. Lara scored three runs in the game.
"There have been so many guys that have stepped up all year that you kind of develop a confidence in every guy that goes to the mound and every guy that goes to the plate, knowing they are going to do something that is good for the team because that is how we are wired," Robertson said. "It is not just one guy that has to go to the plate and do it every night. It is a different guy every night.
"It is more a guessing game of ours. Who is it going to be tonight?"
Fort Wayne will be at home again on Wednesday before heading to Burlington for the rest of the series. While Fort Wayne had the best record in the league – and all of baseball – the Midwest League rotates homefield advantage.
"We know if we take care of business, we are going to end up on the right end of the pendulum," Robertson said.
James Darnell, who was moved up to Lake Elsinore, went 9-for-11 off Burlington pitching across three games during the regular season. Drew Cumberland, missing the series on the disabled list, was 8-for-13 across three games.
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