Great Dane, Smitty’s Speed, Extra! Extra!
The TinCaps were error-free for the first time in a game in 2014 on Wednesday, and it helped Fort Wayne get over the hump in a 7-4, 10-inning victory at Kane County. A night after the TinCaps committed 5 errors, including 3 in the 12th inning of a 4-3 loss, it was the Cougars’ defense that let them down yesterday. Tied 4-4 in the top of the 10th, with one out, Franmil Reyes lifted a fly ball to center field that Jake Hanneman appeared to be in perfect position for. However, Hanneman (who had made a diving catch one batter prior) lost the ball in the sun and it plopped to the grass, allowing Reyes to reach second base. Fernando Perez then drove him home with an opposite-field single to left. Luis Tejada was hit by a pitch. And then Dane Phillips did a Dane Phillips Thing by doubling Perez and Tejada home. Just like that, Fort Wayne was up 7-4 and had its first comeback win of the season.
Dane finished the day 4-for-5 with 3 RBI, and most notably, a game-tying home run in the 9th. In the 145th game of his young career, it was the Texan’s 3rd 4-hit game. Last year with Fort Wayne, Phillips accomplished the feat twice, most recently on July 8th at Parkview Field against Great Lakes. It’s early, but Phillips enters the day with the Midwest League’s 2nd best batting average (.467), 4th best on-base percentage (.500), and 2nd best slugging percentage (.867).
Prior to his big performance, Dane sat down with Mike Couzens to discuss returning to the TinCaps for a second season.
Dane wasn’t the only second-year TinCap to impress yesterday. Center fielder Mallex Smith stole 3 bases to up his tally on the season to 8. That’s more than anyone else in Minor League Baseball (or Major League Baseball for that matter). You may recall, a year ago, Mallex led the Midwest League in stolen bases with 64 — 1 shy of Fort Wayne’s franchise record shared by Rymer Liriano (2011) and Jeremy Owens (1999).
Prior to this series at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, the last time Fort Wayne played consecutive extra-inning affairs was nearly 2 years ago. In 2012, the TinCaps lost to the West Michigan Whitecaps, 2-1, in 11 frames on May 3. Then on May 4, the TinCaps topped the Whitecaps, 3-2, in 12. Both games were at Fifth Third Ballpark. Go figure.
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Since we’re just 40 miles west of downtown Chicago, Blues Brothers, take it away…