SOUTH BEND – Another last at-bat victory for the South Bend Cubs against the Bowling Green Hot Rods?
Eddy Julio Martinez was hit by a Taylor Hawkins pitch with the bases loaded to force in Bryant Flete with the winning run as South Bend (3-2) edged Bowling Green 3-2 in 10 innings Tuesday, April 12 in Midwest League baseball before 1,901 at Four Winds Field.
The Cubs edged the Hot Rods Monday on a walk-off home run by Eloy Jimenez. In 2015, South Bend had two last at-bat wins and both came against Bowling Green.
Losing pitcher Hawkins (0-1), a right-handed knuckleballer who came on to pitch in the 10th, walked the bases loaded (Flete, Donnie Dewees and P.J. Higgins) before Martinez was plunked with a 2-2 knuckler with two outs.
“(Martinez) had fouled off a couple of Hawkins’ fastballs so, in that situation, (Hawkins is) not going to just give in and give him anything good to hit,” South Bend manager Jimmy Gonzalez said. “I knew he was going to throw himself something off-speed and he did.”
Gonzalez had experience with the knuckleball during his professional career.
“I know it does move a lot,” Gonzalez said. “Catching those things is not easy. Those things can go anywhere and luckily it went into Martinez’s back for the RBI.”
Hawkins, a converted catcher, was the third pitcher for Bowling Green (3-3) behind right-handers Alexis Tapia and Reece Karalus.
Jimenez was 4-for-5 with a double and two stolen bases for South Bend and raised his average to .333 (7-of-21).
Dewees had two of the Cubs’ seven hits, including a triple, and scored two runs while stealing one base. He is hitting .381 (8-of-21).
“He makes things happen,” Gonzalez said of a player he had in the lead-off spot Tuesday. “He’s an exciting player. He’s extremely fast and plays hard everytime.
“At the plate, he’s aggressive and taking his hacks. He puts the ball in-play for the most part.”
Dewees, a 22-year-old from Inverness, Fla., talked about his approach to the game.
“Earlier in the game, I like to see a lot of pitches,” Dewees said. “As the lead-off man, I try to take the first pitch and see what the pitcher has.
“As the game goes on, I don’t play the lead-off role as much. (Opposing pitchers) are going to throw a fastball early to get ahead (in the count). As long as it stays in the zone, you get your best swing off and a possible hit.”
On the bases, Dewees said he has the “green light” to run but he is conscious of the count.
The fourth Cubs pitcher of the night behind left-handers Carson Sands and Kyle Twomey and right-hander Scott Frazier, right-hander Casey Bloomquist (1-0) worked a scoreless ninth and 10th, giving up three hits with one strikeout, and earned the victory.
With seven more Tuesday, including four in five innings by Sands, South Bend pitching has struck out 41 hitters over the first five games.
Bowling Green jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Joe McCarthy lashed a two-run single to center field off Sands, plating Peter Maris (on with a single to right) and Kevin Padlo (on with a single to center).
In the South Bend half of the first inning, the Cubs scored once against Tapia on a two-out double by Jimenez. He smacked an 0-2 pitch to center to score Dewees (on with lead-off single).
Hot Rods right fielder Zacrey Law made back-to-back diving catches to take away hits from South Bend’s Dewees (going back) and Andrew Ely (coming in) in the third inning.
Bowling Green mounted a two-out rally in the fourth frame but would up stranding runners second (Angel Perez, who walked) and third (Law, who reach by error) as Sands induced an inning-ending fly-out.
An inning-ending double play was turned by the Hot Rods behind Tapia in the fifth. Left fielder Perez made a diving catch and threw to first baseman McCarthy to double off Jose Paniagua (on base by walk).
Batting against Tapia, South Bend tied the score at 2-2 in the sixth.
Dewees pulled a first-pitch triple down the right field line and scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Higgins.
South Bend advanced a runner to second in the seventh off Karalus, but the right-hander retired the last two Cubs batters to strand Daniel Spingola (on by single) and end the threat.
With Frazier pitching, Spingola made a running catch in right field to end a 1-2-3 Bowling Green eighth.
South Bend squelched a Hot Rods rally in the ninth. With Bloomquist on the hill, Angel Moreno hit into a double play — third baseman Matt Rose to second baseman Flete to first baseman Paniaqua — to end the inning.
With one out, Bowling Green’s Perez bunted toward third base for a single and Law singled to center. Law was retired on the front end of the double play.
South Bend threatened in the ninth.
With Karalus pitching, Jimenez singled to deep shortstop the stole second. Two outs later, Spingola walked before Karalus coaxed an inning-ending groundout from Paniagua.
The final game of the three-game Bowling Green-South Bend series is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, April 13 at Four Winds Field. Probable starting pitchers are right-hander Jose Mujica (1-0) for Hot Rods and right-hander Preston Morrison (0-1) for the Cubs.