Championship Series Game Four or There May Not Be a Tomorrow

For the second time this postseason, the TinCaps’ fate boils down to a simple message: win or go home. After giving up a 3-1 lead to the Timber Rattlers last night, Fort Wayne couldn’t make a comeback and lost, 10-8, in game three of the best-of-five championship series. (Click here to watch my video recap, with highlights) If Wisconsin wins, Fort Wayne will have to watch the Rattlers celebrate a Midwest League title at Parkview Field. But if the TinCaps win, they’ll live to see another day and force a decisive game five.

Fort Wayne will try and hold the door open and force game five at Parkview Field Monday night.

It was six days ago at Lake County when Fort Wayne had its back up against the wall. The Eastern Division championship series against the Captains was tied, 1-1, and starter James Needy was knocked out of the game before the end of the third inning, the game tied at four. Finger nails were chomped upon, perspiration trickled down foreheads, but the TinCaps made a comeback and won, 13-6. Needy starts again this evening, taking the hill for the third time this postseason. Fort Wayne will look for him to deliver the type of performance that he did to open the playoffs: five innings, two earned runs and a win against the Lansing Lugnuts.

Quick note on James Needy (h/t Tom Felice) from the 2009 Baseball America Prospect Guide. Check out the company with which he was listed:

2009 Baseball America Top 100 High Schoolers

#2 Donavan Tate (Fort Wayne ’10,’11)

#24 Keyvius Sampson (Fort Wayne ’11)

#68 James Needy (pitches tonight)

#80 Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels CF)

#97 Billy Hamilton (Led MiLB with 155 stolen bases this season)

It’s an intriguing exercise to look back and see how things turn out. Needy was sidelined with a left knee injury in 2010,and split 2011 between the Arizona League and Eugene. Meanwhile, Mike Trout….

finds himself on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Hey, by the way, great job by the fans last night at Parkview Field to pack the house and give the TinCaps the largest attendance of any Minor League Baseball game last night:

Trenton (Double-A):        2,724
Lancaster (High-A):         2,810
Frisco (Double-A):            3,364
Omaha (Triple-A):             4,081
Fort Wayne (Low-A):       4,939

It should be noted that at all four of those other sites, a championship was decided. Akron won the Eastern League on the road at Trenton, Lancaster won the California League at home, Frisco lost the Texas League to Springfield at home, and Omaha won the Pacific Coast League crown over the Reno Aces…and Fort Wayne still outdid them all. Well done, fans.

The TinCaps bullpen allowed five runs last night (as did starter Frank Garces), equaling the total number of runs they’d allowed in the prior seven playoff games combined. Rough night. Also of note–Mike Gallic, who started in place of the injured Travis Jankowski, tweaked his hamstring yesterday late in the game, which brought Jeremy Baltz in as a late replacement. Baltz will be starting in left field tonight and hitting seventh.

First pitch is at 5:05. I’ll have the broadcast on XFINITY Digital Cable Channel 81 with Kent Hormann starting at 5:00. If you’re out of the area, you can tune into the radio broadcast with Mike Maahs and Tom Felice, starting at 4:45, on ESPNFortWayne.com.

MUSICAL GUEST

Mumford and Sons…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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