The South Bend Silver Hawks (31-19) broke open a tight game with 4 runs in the bottom of the 6th to defeat the Lansing Lugnuts (24-26) 9-2 on Memorial Day at Four Winds Field. Braden Shipley (W, 4-2) pitched six strong innings for the win and first baseman Daniel Palka led the offense with two hits, a homerun, two runs scored and two RBIs.
Lansing, the Class-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, took an early lead with a pair of runs in the top of the second inning. Shipley retired the leadoff hitter before surrendering a clean single to left to shortstop Dawel Lugo. Third baseman Mitch Nay gave the Lugnuts the lead with a triple to left-center that plated Lugo. Designated hitter Jorge Saez doubled the Lugnuts lead with a groundout to short that scored Nay.
Lugnuts starter Chase De Jong (L, 0-2) cruised through the first three innings but surrendered a run in the bottom of the fourth. Palka led off the inning with a homerun to deep center on a 2-2 offering from De Jong that cut the lead to 2-1. That would only be the start of the trouble for De Jong as he surrendered the lead in the next inning.
South Bend, the Class-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, took the lead with a pair of runs in the fifth. Catcher Michael Perez led off with a triple into the right field corner. Third baseman Marty Herum drove him in with a single to right that tied the game at 2-2. Center fielder Breland Almadova kept the line moving by beating out a bunt single that put runners at first and second with nobody out. Shortstop Andrew Velazquez hit a deep fly ball to center for the first out of the inning but Herum tagged and advanced to third on the play. Second baseman Jamie Westbrook plated Herum with a sacrifice fly to center for a 3-2 Hawks lead.
After surrendering the two runs in the second, Shipley kept the Lugnuts off the board through the rest of his six innings of work. He did receive some help from his defense as right fielder Stryker Trahan threw out a runner at the plate to end the top of the sixth inning. Shipley tossed six innings and allowed two runs and seven hits while striking out five.
The Hawks blew open the game in the bottom of the sixth off Lugnuts reliever Alonzo Gonzalez. With one out, Trahan started the rally with a single to right. Left fielder Chuck Taylor followed with a bloop single to right that chased Trahan to third. Perez gave the Hawks a 4-2 lead with a sacrifice fly to right. Herum then beat out an infield single to third that put runners at first and second. Almadova came through with the big hit of the game by lacing a two-run triple to right that made it a 6-2 lead. Velazquez followed up with a ground ball single to center that not only extended the lead to 7-2 but kept his hitting streak alive at 18 games.
The South Bend bullpen shut the door on the Lugnuts as they tossed three scoreless innings. Jake Roberts worked around a leadoff walk in the seventh to keep Lansing off the board. Will Locante also threw a scoreless inning in the eighth inning and Bud Jeter closed out the game in the ninth. Jeter got into some trouble by loading the bases with one out but got an out on an infield fly to second and struck out center fielder D.J. Davis to end the game. The Hawks intermittently added insurance runs with one in the seventh on a Perez sacrifice fly and one in the eighth on a Palka RBI single.
The Hawks and Lugnuts complete their three-game series on Tuesday morning with first pitch scheduled for 10:35am. Lefty Shane Dawson (2-1, 3.00 ERA) takes the mound for Lansing while righty Blake Perry (3-2, 3.78 ERA) gets the start for the Silver Hawks. It’s a School Day at Four Winds Field so thousands of Michiana children will be here to cheer on the Hawks. It is also Triple Play Tuesday where you can get a game ticket, drink, and a hot dog for just $10.