The Fort Wayne TinCaps won their Eastern Division Semifinal series against the Bowling Green Hot Rods in dramatic fashion Thursday at Parkview Field. Marcus Greene Jr. hit a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift Fort Wayne to a 6-4 win and a sweep of the best-of-three series.
The TinCaps will host either West Michigan or Dayton in Game 1 of the best-of-three Eastern Division Championship Series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Parkview Field. The West Michigan-Dayton semifinal series is tied at 1 after Dayton beat the Whitecaps 2-1 on Thursday. Both West Michigan or Dayton will hold the home-field advantage over Fort Wayne.
Jack Suwinski got the TinCaps started in the first inning with a leadoff home run over the right field wall. It was the last time Fort Wayne would score until the seventh inning.
Pedro Avila started on the mound for the TinCaps and held Bowling Green scoreless through three innings with six strikeouts. The Hot Rods scored an unearned run off Avila in the fourth to tie the game 1-1.
Bowling Green added three more runs off Avila in the fourth for a 4-1 lead. Avila's final pitching line for the game was four runs allowed, three earned, on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings with six strikeouts.
The TinCaps' bullpen was outstanding throughout the game which allowed Fort Wayne to get back in the game. Osvaldo Hernandez relieved Avila and blanked the Hot Rods on one hit in 1 2/3 innings with two strikeouts.
Will Headean took over for Hernandez to start the seventh and he didn't allow a base runner in two innings pitched. Headean had two strikeouts.
Meanwhile the TinCaps scored a run in the seventh and two in the eighth to tie the game at 4. Suwinski's sacrifice fly in the seventh drove in Reinaldo Ilarraza with Fort Wayne's second run of the game. Ilarraza had doubled and advanced to third on a passed ball to get in position to score on Suwinski's fly out.
In the eighth inning, Greene led off with a single and advanced to third when Jorge Ona followed with a single to right field. Greene scored on a ground out by Gabriel Arias to make the score 4-3. Ilarraza delivered a two-out single that drove in pinch runner Robbie Podorsky to tie the game heading into the ninth.
TinCaps' manager Anthony Contreras called on Andres Munoz to pitch the ninth inning. After allowing a leadoff single, Munoz retired the next three batters to keep the score tied and set up Greene's heroics in the bottom of the ninth.
Hudson Potts drew a one-out walk to put the winning run on base in the bottom of the ninth. After another out, Greene stepped to the plate and sent the ball flying over the center field wall to give Fort Wayne the game and the series.
Each team had nine hits with Suwinski, Greene and Ilarraza getting two each to lead the TinCaps. Also collecting hits were Potts, Brad Zunica and Ona.
Fort Wayne's bullpen didn't allow a run in 4 2/3 innings and gave up only two hits while striking out six.
Eastern Division Championship Series
First pitch: West Michigan or Dayton at TinCaps, 7:05 p.m. Saturday
TV: Comcast Network ch. 81
Listen: ESPN Radio 1380-AM &100.9-FM, TinCapsRadio.com and TuneIn