Joe Munoz, Hawks slay Dragons with walk-off single

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- It was a pitchers’ duel at Four Winds Field on Wednesday night as the South Bend Silver Hawks (12-7) defeated the Dayton Dragons (11-7) 1-0 for their eighth consecutive win. Third baseman Joe Munoz ripped a walk-off two-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to score shortstop Andrew Velazquez from third for the game-winning run that spoiled the dominant outing of Dayton starter Ismael Guillon.

Dayton, the Class-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, threatened to score in the top of the first inning. With one out, second baseman Sammy Diaz lined a single to left field. He then went to second base when Hawks starter Adam Miller tried to pick him off of first but threw wide of the bag. Left fielder Phillip Ervin followed with a hard ground ball single to right field. Diaz rounded third and headed home but was gunned down at the plate by a strong throw from Hawks right fielder Stryker Trahan and a nice sweep tag by catcher Michael Perez.

South Bend, the Class-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, could not put together a threat all night against Guillon. The Hawks put only one man in scoring position and only two men on base in the first six innings while striking out 9 times. The only hint of a threat through six by the Hawks was a one out double by center fielder Breland Almadova. He was left stranded at second when Guillon struck out both Velazquez and second baseman Jamie Westbrook.

The Dragons also mounted a threat to score in the top of the sixth. Shortstop Carlton Daal led off with a ground ball double down the right field line. Diaz walked and Ervin hit what looked like a tailor-made double play ball to short. Velazquez fielded and flipped to Westbrook who lost the ball on the transfer, recording just the out at second while Daal advanced to third. With runners at the corners and one out, the Dragons ran themselves out of the inning as Ervin took off for second on a ball in the dirt. Perez threw to Velazquez who ran the runner back towards first with an eye on Daal at third. Velazquez tossed to first baseman Daniel Palka and Daal took off for the plate. Palka wheeled and fired a strike to Perez who easily tagged Daal out for the second out of the inning. Miller got out of the inning when Velazquez made a leaping catch on a liner by designated hitter Sean Buckley.

Kyle Schepel came in to the game to replace Miller to start the top of the eighth with the score still knotted at 0-0. Miller tossed seven scoreless innings, striking out six and allowing just four hits in a no-decision. After Schepel pitched a 1-2-3 top of the eighth, the Dragons made a pitching change to start the bottom of the inning. Layne Somsen (L, 1-1) entered the game to replace Guillon. Guillon was dominant throughout his start, allowing just two hits and no walks through seven innings while striking out 11 Silver Hawks. Somsen continued the strong Dayton pitching performance, escaping a two-on, one out jam by inducing a double play grounder from Almadova to end the inning.

Daniel Gibson (W, 1-2) entered the game in the top of the ninth and pitched a scoreless inning to send the game to the bottom of the ninth all tied up at zero. Somsen remained in the game for the Dragons and surrendered a first-pitch double to Velazquez down the right field line. Westbrook failed to bunt him over to third and eventually struck out swinging. Trahan grounded out to first for the second out of the inning, advancing Velazquez to third. The Dragons then decided to intentionally walk Palka to pitch to Munoz who was 0 for 3 with three strikeouts on the night. Munoz then laced a 3-1 pitch up the middle for the game-winning RBI single as Velazquez came in to score from third.

The Hawks and Dragons finish up their four-game series Thursday night at 7:05pm at Four Winds Field. Amir Garrett (0-2, 7.36 ERA) will get the ball for the Dragons while Braden Shipley (1-0, 0.00 ERA) takes the hill for South Bend. It is Thirsty Thursday at Four Winds Field so come on out to the park and enjoy $2.00 22oz sodas and 16oz beers all night long.

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