SOUTH BEND – The South Bend Cubs moved back into a tie with the Dayton Dragons for first place in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division after winning a circus-like 9-8 ballgame that saw hit-batters, wild pitches, stolen bases, and nine extra-base hits.
Unlike the night before, the South Bend offense kept pace with the Dayton Dragons in the first two innings, carrying a 1-1 tie into the top of the third.
With two sacrifice fly balls in the third inning, Dayton regained the lead over the Cubs 3-1. Yet, D.J. Wilson showed tremendous hustle in the bottom of third to score the Cubs’ second run of the game. After stealing second base to move into scoring position, Wilson advanced to third base on a drop third strikeout and ultimately scored on a wild pitch to make it a 3-2 ballgame.
Dayton added their fourth run of the game in the top of the fifth on Tyler Stephenson’s ground out that scored T.J. Friedl and gave the Dragons a 4-2 lead until the seventh inning.
Beginning the seventh inning, South Bend capitalized on the Dragons’ pitching change, which took starting pitcher Scott Moss, who had seemingly neutralized the Cubs’ offense, out of the game. On the second pitch coming from reliever Andy Cox, Kevonte Mitchell hit an RBI-triple to bring the Cubs within one run of the Dragons.
With the tying run at third with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Tyler Payne hit a deep sacrifice fly to score Mitchell and tie the game 4-4.
However, Dayton started the eighth inning with a leadoff single and promptly followed with a two-RBI double off the bat of John Sansone to take a 6-4 lead.
But the comeback-Cubs battled back with a Yeiler Peguero leadoff single and an Isaac Paredes no-out double to put runners at first and third with no outs in the bottom of the eighth. Jhonny Pereda, and Chris Pieters then became the surprise hero’s with a pair of RBI-singles to tie the game 6-6 for the third tie in eight innings.
Next, Zack Short, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the seventh, came to the plate with one out in the bottom of the eighth. In a 1-2 count in the pitchers favor, Short hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Jhonny Pereda who tagged from third base to give the Cubs a 7-6 lead.
After the sacrifice fly, the Cubs gained an 8-6 lead when catcher Tyler Payne came through with a RBI-single after previously coming into the game hitting 0-5 with runners in scoring position.
The Dragons did manage to give the Cubs a scare in the final inning; pulling within one run of South Bend after first baseman Wladimir Galindo dropped what would have been the final out of the game.
But shortly after Payne’s single in the eighth, Yeiler Peguero made it a 9-6 Cubs lead with a bases-loaded walk, which proved to be the deciding run in the Cubs’ 9-8 win.
In his debut, starting pitcher Bryan Hudson only allowed two hits, but five Dayton hitters managed to cross the plate as Hudson hit three batters while also giving up two conventional walks. On the day, the 6’8″ left-hander only allowed two earned runs on two hits in 4 and 1/3 innings pitched.
Duncan Robinson, who was originally scheduled to start the game until Sunday morning, picked up the win in relief for Jimmy Gonzalez’ squad after throwing 3 and 2/3 innings while allowing two runs on three hits. Wyatt Short picked up the save, his third of the season, after inducing a ground ball to Galindo to end the game.
Chicago Cubs’ top-pitching prospect, Dylan Cease is scheduled to start tomorrow as South Bend travels to Cooley Law School Stadium to take on the Lansing Lugnuts in a three-game series in Lansing, MI. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. EST.