SOUTH BEND — On the night of the 2016 World Series Champion ring ceremony at Four Winds Field, the South Bend Cubs stunned the Western Division leading Kane County Cougars with a 7-6 walk-off win in the first of a three game series.
South Bend’s offense struck first behind Yeiler Peguero’s first inning RBI-triple to take an early 2-0 lead. However, Kane County capitalized in the top of the fourth inning to tie the ballgame 2-2.
In the fifth inning, D.J. Wilson hit a solo-shot, his second home run of the year, to give the Cubs a one run lead, but Kane County answered in the top of the sixth on Jasarado Chisholm’s RBI-triple to tie the game. Then, with a light mist coming from the sky, South Bend’s right fielder, Chris Pieters, lost sight of the ball before it dropped for a hit and allowed the Cougars take a one run lead.
The Arizona Diamondbacks Class Low-A affiliate added to their lead in the eighth with a two-run homer off the bat of Kyle Smith to give Kane County a 6-3 lead.
Nevertheless, Wilson, who homered earlier in the game, started a rally for the Cubs in the ninth inning with a two-RBI double, which was followed by two walks and a Yeiler Peguero groundout to tie the game 6-6.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Kane County walked Chris Pieters to load the bases for Kevonte Mitchell but he did not need to swing the bat as a wild pitch got passed the Cougars’ catcher to allow the winning run to score for the Cubs.
“As I [look at] this ring in my hand, the part that really stands out is the ‘We Never Quit’ [inscribed on the bottom of the ring],” said South Bend Cubs Manager Jimmy Gonzalez. “I think [the win] says a lot because Kane County is a good pitching team. It shows that we can do this and the team knows what they’re capable of and they obviously showed it tonight.”
Overall, the quick working Jose Paulino proved to be effective on the mound for South Bend; his 6.0 innings pitched made him the Cubs’ first starting pitcher to throw more than 5.0 innings in the last 10 games. On the night, he allowed four earned runs and struck out seven Kane County hitters.
Marc Huberman struck out the side in the seventh and Wyatt Short picked up the victory for the Cubs while working a scoreless ninth inning.
Prior to the start of Tuesday night’s ballgame, the South Bend coaching staff received their 2016 World Series Champion rings for their work in the Cubs’ organization. Also receiving rings were South Bend Cubs’ President Joe Hart, Vice President Nick Brown, team physician Dr. Stephen F. Mitros, Chicago Cubs’ Education Coordinator Linda Wawrzyniak, and longtime clubhouse manager Jim Reynolds.
Chicago Cubs’ 2016 fourth-round pick, Tyson Miller is scheduled to start on the mound for South Bend in game two against the Cougars. Tomorrow is the first of three education day games at Four Winds Field this month with first pitch scheduled for 10:35 a.m.