Brad Zunica had only had one at bat in the Midwest League Eastern Division Championship series, as of Sunday. However, the Fort Wayne hitter made his presence felt immediately, as he blasted a lead-off home run over the right field wall to give the TinCaps all of the offense that they would need in their 6-0 win over Dayton at Fifth Third Field in front of 7,284 fans.
The victory tied the best-of-three series at one game apiece and the decisive game will be played tonight in Dayton.
Zunica didn't start the opening game of the series Saturday, but he connected on the pitch from Dragon starter Matt Blandino to open the second inning. His hit was followed by the next Fort Wayne hitter, Marcus Greene Jr., who smoked a shot over the left-center field wall to put Fort Wayne ahead 2-0.
The TinCaps added three more runs in the third inning to take a 5-0 lead.
Justin Lopez was playing in just his second game with Fort Wayne and led off the inning with a single to center field before advancing on a single by Jack Suwinski.
Nate Easley drew a walk to load the bases, which was followed later by a walk to Zunica, which scored Lopez.
Dayton brought in reliever Lucas Benenati at that point, but the TinCaps' momentum didn't slow.
Greene Jr. drew a walk, which scored Suwinski, and then Jorge Ona was hit by a pitch, which brought home Easley.
The TinCaps added one final run in their final at bat.
Ona connected for a one-out single to left field, before scoring on a double from Buddy Reed.
Fort Wayne managed just six hits, but got six runs off of those.
Suwinski, Zunica, Greene Jr., Ona, Reed and Lopez each had hits in the win.
TinCap starter Reggie Lawson (1-0, 0.00 ERA) earned the win after working five innings and allowing no runs on four hits. He walked three Dragons and struck out five.
Osvaldo Hernandez threw a couple of innings of relief and struck out five, while not allowing a hit, a run or a walk.
Will Headen pitched the eighth inning and walked one, but allowed no other damage, while Hansel Rodriguez closed the game with a one-hit ninth inning in which he struck out one.
Blandino (0-1, 19.29 ERA) took the loss after getting shelled for five earned runs on four hits. He walked a couple of batters and struck out three.
First pitch: Fort Wayne at Dayton, today at 7 p.m.
Probable starters: FW/RH Michel Baez (2.45 ERA) vs. D/RH Andrew Jordan (4.66 ERA)
Radio: ESPN 1380 AM and 100.9 FM