FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Edwin Uceta threw five scoreless innings, but the Loons’ bullpen allowed seven runs in two innings in a 7-2 loss to the Fort Wayne TinCaps on Wednesday at Parkview Field.
With temperatures sitting in the middle 30s, the Loons (2-8) avoided a shutout in the ninth inning when Ramon Rodriguez singled home Jared Walker as part of a three-hit inning. By that point, however, Fort Wayne had already put the game out of reach.
Pitching in a scoreless sixth inning, Loons’ right-handed reliever Aneurys Zabala (L, 0-1) issued consecutive walks with one out prior to a Luis Campusano RBI single that broke the tie. Both Fort Wayne runners broke from their respective bases before the pitch, and Campusano’s ground ball through the hole on the right side scored Gabriel Arias from second base. Tirso Ornelas later scored the TinCaps’ second run of the inning on a fielder’s choice groundout by Juan Fernandez.
Fort Wayne led 2-0 after six and exploited Zabala’s erratic command in the seventh en route to a five-run frame. Zabala hit the first batter of the inning, Carlos Belen, and then walked the eight and nine hitters in the Fort Wayne lineup to load the bases with no outs. After Esteury Ruiz popped out, Arias singled to right and made the score 3-0.
Right-hander James Carter entered from the bullpen and surrendered three straight singles as Fort Wayne batted around for the second time in the series and opened a 7-0 advantage. Six of Fort Wayne’s runs were charged to Zabala, who threw 15 strikes and 20 balls over 1.1 innings.
The relief work sullied the strongest outing of the season for a Loons’ starting pitcher; Uceta became the first Loon of 2018 to throw five innings in a game and allowed two hits and one walk in his shutout performance. The 20-year-old struck out five and threw 47 of his 69 pitches for strikes.
The Loons look to avoid a series sweep in the finale from Fort Wayne on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. EDT. The team will return to Dow Diamond for a seven-game homestand April 20-26 against the West Michigan Whitecaps and the TinCaps.
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