FORT WAYNE, Ind.– After sputtering through a series against the South Bend Cubs this week, the TinCaps bats came alive for a 9-3 victory over the Lansing Lugnuts Friday. Virtually everyone got involved in the onslaught as six of the nine hitters drove in at least one run, including second year player Jalen Washington, who cranked a two run homer to left field in the bottom of the second.
“My approach was to get something in the middle of the plate,” said Washington after the game, “but he started me off away and then he came back middle-in and I put a good swing on it … I didn’t think it was going out to start but it happened. I was just happy to contribute to an early lead.”
Washington is a catcher by trade, but with the dearth of first basemen in Fort Wayne, he’s done his fair share of work there and has served as the designated hitter. He has ceded playing time behind the dish to All-Star Luis Campusano and 18-year-old Juan Fernandez, who both have the potential that warrants a share of the opportunities to catch.
While Campusano didn’t have the offensive day that his counterpart did, he did flash some impressive plate discipline that belies his age, drawing a pair of walks with the bases loaded.
“I actually gave him the green light to swing on a 3-0 pitch for the first or second walk, and he took that pitch,” said manager Anthony Contreras. “That’s a professional AB. I’ve seen a lot of kids that will swing out of their shoes just because I gave them the green light, but he was able to control himself and take that RBI.”
The two walks bring his on base percentage to a whopping .415 over the last ten games and brings his BB:K ratio to an even 1:1 in the same time. He’s pushed his season line up to .275/.354/.375.
On the mound for Fort Wayne, Osvaldo Hernandez limited the opposing team to two earned runs or less for the eighth consecutive start. It wasn’t his sharpest outing as the 20-year-old lefty gave up quite a bit of hard contact. He found himself in trouble early when the first three Lansing batters reached base but escaped thanks to a stunning catch by Jack Suwinski on an absolute rocket to right field.
As the game continued, Hernandez showed great poise, working efficiently and effectively as he went on to strike out six hitters without walking another batter.
“That’s one thing we’ve been trying to preach to [Hernandez] … to stay under control. He’s a very energetic type of kid and wants to get out there and jump around and do a lot of things,” said Contreras. “But he’s good when he stays under control, so you’re trying to find ways to keep him in rhythm and focused on what he is trying to do out there on the mound.
“Even after that first inning, it looked like he tried to control himself. He’d get himself in little situations where he didn’t get the call he wanted or something didn’t happen and you’d see him kind of step off the mound and take a deep breath. … That shows poise and maturity for a kid and I think that’s going to be difference for him moving forward.”
John Conniff will bring more live coverage of Fort Wayne Saturday as 18-year-old Luis Patino takes the mound for the TinCaps.