Fort Wayne — After losing a season-high seven games in a row, the TinCaps needed a shot of life. They received that jolt from ace Ethan Elliott and Tirso Ornelas in a dramatic 5-to-4 win.
While on paper, having your ace on the mound is a great recipe to break a losing streak, optimism quickly turned to panic as Elliott was touched up for a run in the first, and the TinCaps fell behind once again. Thankfully for the TinCaps, and their fans, that deficit was short-lived as Tirso Ornelas launched his first home run of 2021 deep to right-center field. Ornelas, 21, leads the league in doubles but was nearly 200 plate appearances into the season before getting one out Thursday night.
After the first, Elliott hit his stride. He went the next five innings never allowing more than one runner in any inning. Elliott would finish the game having allowed two earned runs on five hits, walking one, and striking out four over six strong innings.
While Elliott topped out at 89, it was more of a show-me pitch to keep them off the slider and change. While he used his offspeed pitches at a Musgrovian rate, what also helped him settle into a groove was the time between pitches – or lack thereof. The average time between pitches for MLB pitchers is 23.8 seconds; Elliott was averaging less than 10 seconds between pitches
“Ethan keeps us on our toes,” said outfielder Grant Little. “One thing I love about him is you put your head down for a second, and you already missed a pitch. He keeps the defenders engaged, and keeps the hitters from every getting comfortable at the plate.”
With Elliott keeping the team in the game, Little added the firepower to push the offense in front. Starting his first game in nearly two weeks after bruising his wrist, Little collected the key hit in the TinCaps’ big sixth inning. With a runner on first in a tie game, Little lined his second double of the night to center. A hit batter, wild pitch, and sac fly then pushed across two runs for Fort Wayne.
“I was a little nervous, but more excited to be back in there,” said Little, who collected his first multi-hit game since May 27.
“Once I stepped in the box it was all business. As a whole, we put together some really good at-bats. We were really putting the ball in the play and making them get us out and play good defense.”
Putting the ball in play is what eventually led to the win. After the Captains came back to tie, the TinCaps scored the game-winning with one out in the seventh when Seamus Curran grounded a ball to short and the Captain’s defense broke. Second Baseman Raynel Delgado recorded the out at second and then threw the double play ball wide of first. Chris Givin would come into score and that was all the TinCaps needed to win.
RHP Jose Geraldo slammed the door shut in the ninth for his fourth save in four chances with the TinCaps.
The TinCaps will look to make it two in a row Friday with RHP Matt Waldron on the mound.
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