By Evan Stockton
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Fort Wayne TinCaps (4-2) beat the Dayton Dragons (Cincinnati Reds) in a heart-pounding game at Parkview Field on Tuesday night. Luis Almanzar smacked a two-out, go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning, Dayton responded right back with a tying two-run home run in the top of the ninth, and Dwanya Williams-Sutton won the game with a game-winning double in the bottom of the ninth.
Dayton (2-4) pushed across the contest’s first run in the top of the fourth. With one out, Mariel Bautista was hit by a pitch and promptly swiped second base. After a Pabel Manzanero flyout, Bren Spillane lined a soft single into center field to score Bautista.
The Dragons scratched across another run in the top of the fifth. Jay Schuyler lined a lead-off single into left field, moving all the way to third on consecutive groundouts by Juan Martinez and Raniel Ozuna. Then, with Michael Siani at the plate, Angel Acevedo delivered a wild breaking ball, scoring Schuyler from third.
Sterling pitching on both sides highlighted much of the night. Acevedo started for Fort Wayne, allowing just two runs on three hits in his five innings of work. The 20-year-old Venezuelan recorded 11 groundball outs. Carlos Belen (1.2 innings) and Hazahel Quijada (1.1 innings) followed Acevedo with scoreless relief outings. Quijada fanned three in his time out of the bullpen.
Jared Solomon was not to be outdone in his start for Dayton, hurling four scoreless innings and striking out seven. Alexis Diaz excellently followed him out of the bullpen, setting down the side in order in each of his two innings while striking out four.
Fort Wayne’s dramatic rally came in the bottom of eighth inning. Grant Little singled to start the frame followed by walks to Dwanya Williams-Sutton and Justin Lopez that loaded the bases. With two outs, Luis Almanzar stepped into the spotlight, hammering a hanging 3-2 breaking ball over the high wall in left-center field to give the TinCaps a 4-2 lead. It was Almanzar’s second home run of the season and the first grand slam of Fort Wayne’s young 2019 campaign.
The TinCaps jubilation was short lived, as the Dragons tied the game two batters into the ninth inning. Manzanero singled to start the frame, and Spillane lined a home run over the left field wall to tie the game at four. Spillane finished the game with three RBIs. Jose Quezada had to do yeoman’s work to escape the inning with a tie game – the bases were loaded with one out, but the former Texas Tech Red Raider struck out Michael Siani and Jonathan Willems to end the threat.
Fort Wayne officially ended the roller-coaster ride by winning the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. Xavier Edwards reached on an error with one out, moving to second on a groundout by Little. Williams-Sutton then sent the TinCaps crowd home happy, slamming a double into deep right-center field to score Edwards and win the game, 5-4. It was Fort Wayne’s first walk-off win of the season, and its second straight comeback victory over Dayton on consecutive nights.
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