Fernando Tatis Jr. set the stage for a TinCaps' slugfest on Father's Day in a 9-3 win over the Dayton Dragons at Parkview Field.
The TinCaps opened up a 9-1 lead in the fifth inning behind four homers, putting the game well out of reach as Fort Wayne finished the first half of the season in style.
Tatis got it started with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the first against starting pitcher Ty Boyles. Third baseman Hudson Potts would follow later in the inning with a two-run shot, his third of the week, to put the TinCaps up 3-1.
“I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit, and I think I got it,” said Tatis, the TinCaps shortstop and Midwest All-Star. “I just put the barrel on it and it went out.”
In the second, the TinCaps (26-44) picked up right where they left up as catcher Marcus Greene Jr. followed Tatis' example with a solo shot to lead off the inning. A wild pitch later scored left fielder Rod Boykin to make it 5-1.
The TinCaps got a break from the Dragons (41-29) in the top of the third when Dayton's Taylor Trammell missed first base on his way to second on what appeared to be an easy double. After the TinCaps called time, starting pitcher Pedro Avila threw to first baseman Brad Zunica to confirm the out and end the inning.
The TinCaps made Dayton pay for its mistake in the bottom half of the inning. Center fielder Jack Suwinski hit a two-run homer to right-center field to go up 7-1.
“I think it's pretty contagious once you start getting it going,” Potts said. “Obviously baseball's very difficult, but once the whole team starts getting into it, the hits start falling.”
The TinCaps got a strong outing from starting pitcher Pedro Avila (1-1), who struck out 12 batters over seven innings, while surrendering only three runs.
Avila's biggest offensive threat came from Dragons catcher Tyler Stephenson, who drove in all three of Dayton's runs on an RBI double in the first and a two-run homer in the sixth.
TinCaps reliever Will Headean threw two scoreless innings to secure the TinCaps win.
But Sunday's game wasn't just about the TinCaps' big day at the plate. It was also about Suwinski's father getting to watch his son hit his fifth home run.
It was about TinCaps manager Anthony Contreras getting quality time with his family in the dugout after the game.
And with the TinCaps donning their Padres (“fathers” in Spanish) alternate jerseys, a series win to end the first half couldn't have come at a better time.
“To put up some big numbers and to have the offensive production that we did, it's just good momentum to propel these guys into the second half,” Contreras said. “It shows that we're doing the right thing and things are starting to click on all levels right now.”
“Struggling a little bit this first half, taking a team like (Dayton) down right before the break was big,” Potts said.
The TinCaps will ride a two-game win streak into the All-Star break and will return to action Thursday in Kentucky, where they will open a four-game series against Bowling Green at 7:35 p.m.