MWL Eastern Division Championship Series: Win or Go Home
This is Coveleski Stadium, and it is where the TinCaps’ season will be decided.
In tonight’s third and final game of the Eastern Division Championship Series, one team will win and the other will pack up its gear until April of 2014. Last night Fort Wayne won, 5-2, forcing this third game after it had lost Saturday night at Parkview Field.
“This is what it’s all about,” South Bend manager Mark Haley said of Monday’s winner-take-all game. “It comes down to one game. Sometimes you get worried if you sweep all the way to the top and you haven’t experienced pressure. This is development. It comes down to one game, and who’s going to be ready for it. Who really wants it, and who is going to go out and execute and do the things that are needed. You play 140 games, and then it all comes down to one game, and it comes down to intestinal fortitude.”
Manager Jose Valentin’s TinCaps demonstrated clutch hitting, clinical pitching and confidence in the field.
“It was a big win,” Valentin said. “I don’t think we’ve won a game in this park all year, and to come back and do it at this time of the year, after being down 0-1 in a two out of three series, it’s something that is not easy.”
“We’ve been playing great baseball, right on time, right when we have to,” said Valentin, whose team lost to Wisconsin last year in the Championship Series. “We got the biggest game of the year. … We need to come with the same intensity and score some runs early.”
Valentin is right. The TinCaps hadn’t won a game at South Bend all season, despite seven prior opportunities to do so. Now they’ll have to do it twice in as many nights to earn the right to take on either Beloit or Quad Cities in the Midwest League Championship Series. Here are a few more notes to get you ready for today’s game:
What’s At Stake: The winner of this series will represent the Eastern Division in the Midwest League Championship Series. Since 2000 , Fort Wayne has represented the Eastern Division in the Championship Series twice (‘09, ‘12), while South Bend has done so 3 times (’01, ‘05, ‘05). Overall, Fort Wayne has 1 title (2009), while South Bend has 3 (‘89, ‘93, ‘05).
The Shot Heard ‘Round the Fort: Although the TinCaps played in game three of the EDCS last year at Lake County (and won, 13-6), the team’s most memorable game three in this series came in 2009. Facing the Great Lakes Loons at Parkview Field, backup catcher Robert Lara, who hit just two home runs during the regular season, hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to send the TinCaps to the Midwest League Championship Series, where they swept the Burlington Bees.
Game Three Numbers: In game three of either a first or second-round series dating back to 2005, the record is an even split between home and road teams. The home team has won 10 games while the road team has won 10 games. In that same time frame, the TinCaps are 3-1 when facing a game three. In 2009 they defeated South Bend in the first round at Parkview Field, and Great Lakes in the second round, also at home. They lost to Lake County in 2010 at Classic Park and eliminated the Captains on the road last year with a 13-6 victory to advance to the Championship Series.
Sans Cigar: In 21 meetings this season, the TinCaps and Silver Hawks have played eight 1-run games, three 2-run games, and five 3-run games. South Bend has had the better of the close meetings. Fort Wayne is 2-6 in 1-run games, 0-3 in 2-run contests, and 3-2 in the 3-run games.
Rea Delivers Again: Colin Rea’s last two postseason starts have been stellar. His line yesterday (7IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 6K) was nearly identical to what he did in the MWL Championship series in 2012 (7IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 3K). He earned a win in both starts.
You know, for as good as Colin Rea was yesterday, maybe he’s better when his alter ego is in the house:
Here’s to a great outing from Jo Rhoss tonight.
If you can’t make the game in South Bend, hopefully you can join me and John Nolan for the radio broadcast of tonight’s game. The game will be on The Fan 1380 in Fort Wayne and TheFanFortWayne.com everywhere else.
David Guetta…take it away!