The TinCaptains or Game One of the MWL Eastern Division Championship Series

It’s going to be a big night at Parkview Field this evening as the TinCaps open the Eastern Division Championship series against the Lake County Captains, the Midwest League affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Both teams swept their opening-round series, as Lake County downed Bowling Green and Fort Wayne toppled Lansing. For a quick recap of the TinCaps’ Thursday night game at Lansing, here you go:

The TinCaps were down, 6-0, at the end of four innings and came back to pick up a 9-6 win, marking their biggest comeback of the season. The biggest deficit they had overcome this year was four runs, also against Lansing. A lot of credit has to go to the bullpen, which turned in 5 1/3 scoreless innings after 3 2/3 from Matt Wisler in his first playoff start.

Both teams were at Parkview Field for light practices on Friday afternoon, and I caught up with both David Wallace, the first-year manager of the Captains, and TinCaps manager Jose Valentin. Here are some of their thoughts on the series:

Wallace on how his team has changed since July 3rd, the last time the Fort Wayne and Lake County met:

“Since the playoffs started we picked up Joey Windall and Tyler Naquin both who have stepped in to a pretty tough situation coming out of short season and both have been impressive not only in games but both how they go about their business.”

Wallace on what it took to defeat first-half wild-card Bowling Green in the opening round of the playoffs:

“Both were close games. We made some plays defensively when we needed to. Our guys have pitched and made pitches when they needed to. We haven’t necessarily done a great job of keeping guys off the bases. Offensively, we’ve been swinging it pretty well lately–getting down sac bunts, moving guys over and putting up tough at bats.”

What Wallace fears about the TinCaps:

“I really don’t like (Jace) Peterson. I say I don’t like him which means I really do like him. He’s fun to watch, he ‘s a dynamic player and he’s always a threat. Up and down (the Fort Wayne) lineup there’s just bats that can do damage. There’s nobody in the lineup that you’d say ‘Let’s just get to this guy and that’s an out.”’ I like Hedges behind the plate and then (the TinCaps) have had nice arms all year. It’s going to be a real big challenge to stick in there, put up big at-bats and just try to produce some runs any way we can.”

Valentin on his team’s approach as they journey on through the playoffs:

“It’s a way different team and I think it’s because they realize where they are. Now we’re playing for one thing, and that’s to win a championship. To be able to win a championship team you’ve got to have that mentality to go out there, play hard and try everything you can.”

Valentin on what kind of a challenge Lake County presents:

“We’re not going to change. For us it was a lot easier to beat Lake County than it was to beat Bowling Green and Lansing. The best two teams in our division all year round are out, so that’s a statement about postseason baseball—it’s different. Lake County is real aggressive. It’s the same type of baseball that we play. Pitching wise, we’re pretty much the same type of team. They beat one of the best teams of the league in Bowling Green and they finished the season strong. You can’t take anything for granted.”

For the full comments from each manager, click on the audio below.

Valentin

Wallace

During the regular season, not only did the two teams split the 12 games between them, they also scored 41 runs against one another. Here’s what the pitching matchup looks like for game one:

LHP Frank Garces (FW) — 9-6, 2.81 ERA in 25GS, 121.2 IP, 51R, 38ER, 112K, 37BB, .233 BAA

vs. Lake County — 1-0, 0.82 ERA, 2GS, 11IP, 9H, 2R, 1ER, 12K, 3BB

LHP Shawn Morimando (LC) — 7-6, 3.59 ERA in 22GS, 110.1 IP, 51R, 44ER, 69K, 52BB, .239 BAA

vs. Fort Wayne — 0-1, 6.00 ERA, 1GS, 6IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, 3BB, 3K

I’ll have the call on XFINITY Digital Cable Channel 81 starting at 7:00 with Kent Hormann. You can hear the game on the radio (1380 ESPN) or online (ESPNFortWayne.com) with Mike Maahs and Tom Felice.

PHOTOS FROM FRIDAY’S WORKOUT

Pitchers do some light jogging before their workout.

Thursday night’s hero, Lee Orr, takes some cuts in the batting cage.

Padres 2012 second-round pick Jeremy Baltz hones his swing as hitting coach Jacque Jones throws batting practice.

Dennis O’Grady throws from the bullpen mound during Fort Wayne’s Friday evening workout at Parkview Field.

MUSICAL GUEST

Because it’s been stuck in my head for the past 24 hours…

Keith Urban, take it away!

If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

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