SOUTH BEND – South Bend mounted an eighth-inning comeback with seven hits, but an out at third, an out between second and third and an out between first and second halted the rally, as Lansing held on for the 5-4 win Tuesday night at Four Winds Field.
The Cubs (4-2 second half, 33-40 overall) scored three in the eighth to get within one, but Lansing’s early offense withstood the surge.
Lansing pitching prospect Sean Reid-Foley fanned seven in five one-run innings. Reid-Foley set the tone with a mid-90s fastball and three strikeouts in the first inning, cementing Lansing’s two-run top half of the opening frame. From there, the Lugnuts (3-3 second half, 45-31 overall) strode past South Bend. The Cubs had won six of their last seven games.
Cubs left fielder Charcer Burks (3-for-5), shortstop Gleyber Torres (2-for-5, one double), right fielder Kevin Encarnacion (2-for-4, two runs) and first baseman Jesse Hodges (3-for-4, two RBI) contributed to South Bend’s 14-hit effort.
Cubs starter Zach Hedges allowed three earned runs (four total) in six innings, scattering five hits and a pair of free passes. South Bend reliever Ryan McNeil allowed one unearned run over the final three innings.
The Cubs stranded eight runners through the first six innings, including three in the fourth and two in the fifth.
Lansing loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the first inning. Lugnuts cleanup hitter Ryan McBroom roped a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring leadoff man Tim Locastro from third. The Lugnuts raced ahead 2-0 on an RBI single by center fielder D.J. Davis.
Lansing designated hitter Chris Carlson cracked an RBI single over shortstop in the third to widen the lead to 3-0.
The Cubs jumped on the board in the last of the second on an RBI groundout by catcher Gioskar Amaya, as Encarnacion scored to make it 3-1.
Lansing left fielder David Harris lined a solo home run to left field in the fourth inning.
With a man at third and one out in the eighth, Lugnuts right fielder Boomer Collins powered a run-scoring single past South Bend’s drawn-in defense, extending the margin to 5-1.
Cubs designated hitter Yasiel Balaguert and Encarnacion began the eighth with consecutive singles, and Encarnacion scored to make it 5-2 when second baseman Andrew Ely laced an RBI base knock to right field.
Hodges then yanked a two-run double down the left-field line to slice the deficit to one, 5-4. But when Amaya bunted, Lansing reliever Dusty Isaacs gunned to third and nabbed Hodges. Two batters later, Burks cracked a hot groundball that drilled baserunner Rashad Crawford for the second out. Shortstop Gleyber Torres pulled a single to left field, but Burks ran toward third, where Cubs manager Jimmy Gonzalez had held Amaya. Burks was tagged out to end the frame.
Lugnuts reliever Jose Fernandez set down South Bend 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.
South Bend and Lansing return for the rubber game at Four Winds Field on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Cubs right-hander Brad Markey (2.25 ERA) will oppose Lugnuts righty Starlyn Suriel (2.79 ERA).