FORT WAYNE — After spotting the visiting West Michigan Whitecaps a run in the top of the first inning, the TinCaps put up five runs in the bottom of the frame on the way to an easy victory Friday night. Leadoff hitter Jawuan Harris, making a rare start at designated hitter rather than his normal center field perch, lead off the bottom of the inning with a home run to left field.
“I’ve only been a DH once in college, and I usually try to give my team a spark defensively so it was important for me to do something to help my team – and I think I did,” said Harris via Zoom after the game.
Fort Wayne also caught a break later in the inning when botched communication between the WhiteCaps’ shortstop and the center fielder allowed Michael Curry’s shallow pop-up to fall plating two runs, with Curry coming home on Justin Lopez’s double.
The game moved out of reach for West Michigan when Mexican native Agustin Ruiz hit a grand slam to right field to make the score 9-1 for the TinCaps. Fort Wayne added one in the seventh and West Michigan added two in the top of the ninth for the final score of 10-3.
Harris added a double later in the game, walked, and scored twice. His only blemish was a pair of strikeouts, looking; but Harris explained that is part of the organization’s overall strategy.
“It’s about cutting down your strike zone, squeeze it, and not expand. If it’s close don’t swing, what you don’t want to do is chase. Because if you chase then you are going to do it in your next at-bat. Make the pitcher beat you.”
Agustin Ruiz also reached base three times and was in center field for the first time this season.
“We know he can play the corners and we wanted to see if he was able to play [center] if we need him to,” said TinCaps manager Anthony Contreras. We have quite a few guys who can play out there on our team, but we wanted to see if Agustin can play all three outfield positions.
“He’s lost some weight, gotten stronger, and is moving around better. If he can do that it will help him and the organization.”
TinCaps Notes: RHP Austin Smith threw two innings and was pulled after giving up a home run with two outs in the ninth. Instead of bringing in reliever Carter Loewen who was warming up, Contreras subbed in first baseman Olivier Basabe to get the final out. … A rough start for West Michigan first baseman Spencer Torkelson, the number one overall pick in the 2020 draft from Arizona State. In his first four games, all against the TinCaps, he has ten strikeouts in his first 18 plate appearances for an .063 batting average. …RHP Moises Lugo will get the ball on Saturday night.