Courtesy: Tincaps Baseball
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- The TinCaps did it. Fort Wayne beat the Bowling Green Hot Rods, 4-0, at Bowling Green Ballpark on Monday afternoon to clinch the Midwest League Eastern Division's second-half wild card.
The victory puts the TinCaps into the postseason for the sixth consecutive year -- the longest active streak in the 16-team league. No other team has made the playoffs more than two straight years.
"Just 25 guys locked in," said second baseman Josh VanMeter.
The Ossian, Ind., native broke a scoreless tie in the top of the seventh inning with a three-run homer over the right-center field fence off Stone Speer (6-3). It was only the 19-year-old's third home run in 160 games as a professional, including 116 games this season. VanMeter hadn't homered since May 29. That was also in Bowling Green.
VanMeter's three-run homer came in support of fellow 19-year-old Ronald Herrera, who threw five scoreless innings. The youngest pitcher on Fort Wayne's staff struck out five and allowed only two hits.
"This team has played hard until the final out all season," VanMeter said. "I think a lot of teams may have put their heads down after a 13-game losing streak like we had earlier this half, but this team stuck together."
Colby Blueberg (1-0) followed Herrera with 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Eric Yardley finished the seventh and pitched a perfect eighth inning before giving way to Ryan Butler, who threw a 1-2-3 ninth.
Fort Wayne (33-37, 63-76) won three games within 24 hours in Bowling Green (31-40, 61-77) to finish the regular season with a 7-3 record in its final 10. Following their 13-game losing streak from June 28-July 11, the TinCaps went 28-21.
VanMeter added an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning on an infield single to give Fort Wayne a 4-0 lead. It was the first four-RBI game of his pro career.
It's been a special season getting to play at home," VanMeter said. "But we're not done yet. We believe we can win the whole thing. Hopefully we get a big crowd Downtown on Wednesday."
by phone at 260-482-6400, or in person at the Parkview Field Ticket Office. Game 2 will be hosted by West Michigan on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. If necessary, Game 3 also will be in West Michigan on Friday at 7:00 p.m.