The Journal Gazette
Friday, July 19, 2019 1:00 am

Tincaps 12, Peoria 11

TinCaps post record comeback

Rally from 11-2 with 'Le Batard' producer in attendance

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

The “Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” prides itself on being weird. Off-beat. Unpredictable. 

It's the sort of show whose fans would try to bring the Miami-based ESPN radio program to a TinCaps game on a Thursday evening because, well, why not?

So it seems fitting that the unofficial “Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” night at Parkview Field would be the setting for the biggest comeback in TinCaps history, in a 12-11 victory.

“It's the highlight of the second half,” said Jawuan Harris, who hit two home runs, including the game-tying grand slam. “This is definitely in the (top two) games of the season). This will definitely spring us forward.”

The festivities began with a first-pitch by Michael Ryan Ruiz, a producer on the Le Batard show.

But after that, it looked like the night might be a disappointment for TinCaps fans. 

Sam Keating gave up two runs in the top of the first inning and three more in the second to spot the Peoria Chiefs (34-61, 4-22 second half) a 5-0 lead. Keating started the fourth by plunking his fourth batter of the game, allowed a single to Brady Whalen, and gave up a three-run homer to Ivan Herrera. 

Down 8-0, the TinCaps (42-52, 9-17) showed their first signs of life in the bottom of the fourth, when Ethan Skender led off with a triple and then scored as Agustin Ruiz reached first on an error by the Chiefs shortstop. Blake Hunt moved over Ruiz with a single, and Ruiz would come around to score on a ground out by Luke Becker to narrow the gap to 8-2.

Austin Smith then took the mound for the TinCaps, allowing three more runs, seemingly squashing hopes for a TinCaps' comeback.

But Harris hit the first of his two home runs in the fifth, a blast that just crossed over the fence in center field, to narrow the score to 11-3. Skender then reached on a single and was knocked in by a Ruiz double before Hunt hit a home run, this time making the score 11-6. 

Back-to-back doubles by Becker and Michael Curry made the score 11-7 in the sixth, but the eighth was where things got really weird, in the best way.

Becker, Curry and Solomon loaded the bases, and Harris hit a grand slam, arguably the most clutch hit of the season so far, to tie the game at 11-11. 

“I can barely tell you what pitch it was or what happened, but it was a great moment,” Harris said. “I just knew he was throwing a lot of soft stuff in, so I was looking for something soft and I got it.”

But the work (and drama) wasn't over.

Tucupita Marcano reached on an infield hit, but was quickly erased when Skender hit into a fielder's choice. The benches briefly cleared after the Chiefs second baseman took umbrage at Marcano's move, but after the dispute was settled Ruiz hit another single to put runners on first and third. Ruiz made a move as if to steal second and was caught in a rundown, giving Skender just enough time to rush home and score the winning run. 

Harris, who is from Miami, home of the Le Batard show, said the win was possibly the most memorable of his career, largely because his parents arrived in town for a visit Thursday morning. 

“They're probably still talking about my strike out in my first at-bat,” Harris joked. “They're probably ecstatic and happy to see this.”

TinCaps vs. Peoria

Where: Parkview Field

When: 7:05 p.m.

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