The South Bend Silver Hawks (11-5, 51-34) won their eighth consecutive game on Saturday night at Four Winds Field by defeating the Lake County Captains (9-7, 36-50) 8-7. Hawks left fielder Chuck Taylor went 2-4 with two singles, a walk, two RBIs, and a run scored to lead the Hawks offense in the win. Captains first baseman Nellie Rodriguez continued to batter Hawks pitching by going 3-5 with 2 home runs, a double, 3 runs scored, and four RBIs.
Lake County, the Class-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, jumped out to an early lead in the top of the second. For the second consecutive game, Rodriguez homered to left in his first at-bat, and the Captains took a 1-0 lead off Hawks starter Sean Furney (W, 4-4). With one out in the inning, center fielder Dorssys Paulino grounded a double down the third base line. After Furney retired third baseman Grant Fink on a foul popup, catcher Richard Stock laced a double to left that scored Paulino and extended the Lake County lead to 2-0.
South Bend, the Class-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, cut the lead in half with a run in the bottom of the third inning. Third baseman Ryan Gebhardt led off the inning with a single to center off Captains starter Dace Kime (L, 4-10). Gebhardt was erased at second on center fielder Breland Almadova’s fielder’s choice. Almadova proceeded to steal second base before Kime struck out shortstop Andrew Velazquez for the second out of the inning. Taylor then lined a single up the middle and Almadova beat the throw to the plate for the first Hawks run of the game.
The Hawks took advantage of a critical error by Lake County to plate three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and take a 4-2 lead. First baseman Marty Herum led off with a ground ball single up the middle. Right fielder Stryker Trahan and second baseman Jamie Westbrook both walked to load the bases with nobody out. Catcher Michael Perez then hit a soft grounder back to the mound. Kime fielded cleanly but his throw to the plate pulled Stock off the plate and Herum slid home with the second run of the game for the Hawks on the throwing error. The bases were still loaded and Gebhardt gave the Hawks the lead with a sacrifice fly as he lofted the ball to center to score Trahan and move Westbrook to third. Almadova then hit a grounder to short that resulted in a force out at second base but also scored Westbrook for the 4-2 Hawks lead.
Furney settled down after allowing two runs in the second and kept the Captains off the scoreboard until the top of the sixth. After retiring the first two hitters, Furney gave up a double to Rodriguez. Left fielder Torsten Boss followed with a double of his own to score Rodriguez and cut the lead down to 4-3. Furney got Paulino to ground out back to the mound to end the inning and his night with the lead. He finished allowing 3 runs on 5 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 2 over 6 innings.
South Bend jumped out to a big lead in the bottom of the sixth inning with four runs off of Captains’ reliever Alexis Paredes. Perez and Gebhardt both walked to put runners at first and second with nobody out. Almadova flew out to deep right, advancing Perez to third. Velazquez then laced a hotshot past Rodriguez at first, scoring Perez and extending his minor-league leading on-base streak to 65 games. Taylor then lined a single to right that scored Gebhardt for a 6-3 lead although Velazquez was caught trying to go from first to third for the second out of the inning. Designated hitter Daniel Palka singled to put runners at the corners. Taylor then scored from third on a passed ball during Herum’s at-bat to make it 7-3 in favor of the Hawks. Herum rounded out the scoring in the inning by launching a triple down the right field line into the corner that scored Palka and gave the Hawks an 8-3 lead.
Lake County struck back in the top of the eighth inning and it was Rodriguez once again causing the damage. Reliever Tom Jameson had pitched a scoreless seventh but ran into trouble as he walked designated hitter Clint Frazier and second baseman Paul Hendrix. Rodriguez stepped up and launched his second home run of the night with a blast to left that Taylor in left field could just turn and watch soar out of the park as it cut the lead to 8-6. Boss followed that up with a double to right that knocked out Jameson and brought Daniel Gibson out of the bullpen. Gibson allowed Boss to score on a one-out double to left by Fink but stranded two Captains on base to hold onto the lead at 8-7 going into the bottom of the eighth inning.
Silvino Bracho (S, 16) came into the game in the ninth to close it out for the Hawks. He struck out the first two batters he faced before Rodriguez stepped up to the plate with the chance to tie the game. Rodriguez got hold of a 1-1 pitch from Bracho and it looked like he had tied the game with his third home run of the night on a deep fly ball to left. However, Taylor was able to make the catch just in front of the wall to end the game and secure the 8-7 Hawks victory.
The Hawks and Captains conclude their three game series with a Sunday matinee. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05pm. Left hander Luis Lugo (5-7, 5.15 ERA) takes the ball for the Captains while the Hawks will send out right hander John Omahen (4-2, 3.00 ERA) to try to complete the sweep. There will be a special appearance at Four Winds Field as former AL MVP Jose Canseco will be in attendance. He will take the field before the game to compete in a home run derby against three Hawks fans. There is a patriotic Silver Hawks t-shirt giveaway for the first 750 fans through the gate and it is Swoop Troop and Family Day at Four Winds Field. The pregame Home Run Derby means there is no catch on the field but there will be a post-game autograph session with your South Bend Silver Hawks.