MIDLAND, Mich. – Despite trailing 2-1 from the fifth inning on against the South Bend Cubs at Dow Diamond on Tuesday, chances to tie the game were presented to the Great Lakes Loons. However over the final two innings, the Loons left five runners on base and went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position on the night en route to dropping the series opener by the same score.
In the eighth inning, Great Lakes drew three walks to load the bases with two outs, but Logan Landon was not able to push a run across. After a scoreless top half of the ninth, Ariel Sandoval came within 90 feet of tying the game. But a scorcher off the bat of Loons catcher Jake Henson was snared by South Bend (22-14) reliever James Norwood to end the game.
Despite just 12 hits between both teams, plenty of runners were still reaching base as the Loons and Cubs combined to walk 11 batters. With plenty of players on the bases paths, there was also a total of 21 runners left on base in the game.
The theme of multiple players on base began when the Loons (15-20) load the bases in the 2nd inning with two outs. They were not able to push a run across as Cristian Gomez grounded out on a nice play made by third baseman Jesse Hodges.
South Bend then got the scoring started in the bottom half of the inning when Hodges walked to begin the frame and came around to score against starter Victor Gonzalez when Donnie Dewees reached on a fielder’s choice.
With a lofty pitch count and some lengthy at-bats, Gonzalez (L, 2-3) still went five innings on the mound and allowed two runs on five hits. Two different times the left-hander struck out the side and totaled nine punch outs in the game.
Making his first start of the season in the outfield for Great Lakes, Matt Jones walked with one in the 4th inning and scored all the way from first base when Logan Landon scorched a pitch 105 miles per hour to left center field. With just four hits as a team, Landon was the lone player to have a multi-hit night going 2-for-4 with a double.
Dewees then returned to the spotlight in the 5th when he singled into the outfield to allow Bryant Flete to score and give South Bend the 2-1 lead for good. The center fielder for the Cubs drove in both runs for the team on the night.
The pitching staff for South Bend was on its game for the most part on the night. Carson Sands (W, 4-0) started and tossed five innings, while Greyfer Eregua (H, 2), John Williamson (H, 2) and Norwood (SV, 3) provided good relief out of the bullpen.