Rightfielder Socrates Brito continued his hot streak with a 3-for-4 night at the plate as the South Bend Silver Hawks defeated the Kane County Cougars 6-1 on Thursday night at Coveleski Regional Stadium. Brito is now hitting .500 (13/26) over his last six games and has been a key piece of the offense in a stretch where the Hawks have won nine of their last twelve games.
Jesse Darrah (9-5) started the game for the Silver Hawks and worked out of a first inning jam thanks to some cautious baserunning by the Cougars. With one out, first baseman Jelmer Candelario hit a chopper to first base. Second baseman Gloskar Amaya did not come home from third base on the force play at second base. This came back to haunt the Cougars as Darrah then struck out designated hitter Marco Hernandez, stranding Amaya at third base.
Kane County (34-51, 4-15) took the lead against Darrah in the top of the third inning. Cougars center fielder Albert Almora roped a two out double to left field. First baseman Dan Voegelbach followed with a ground ball single up the middle that scored Almora for a 1-0 lead. For the second straight night, the Cougars would end up surrendering the early lead as the Hawks went on to score three runs in the bottom of the inning.
South Bend (57-33, 13-8) wrested the lead back from the Cougars against starting pitcher Brian Smith (2-4). Second baseman Andrew Velazquez led off the inning by beating out an infield single to second. He then stole second base with one out and center fielder Breland Almadova at the plate. Almadova drove in the tying run with a line drive single to center. Brito picked up his second hit of the game with a liner up the middle that moved Almadova over to third. Brito then stole second before third baseman Brandon Drury brought both runners home with a double into the left field corner, putting the Hawks up 3-1.
The Cougars’ baserunning hurt them again in the top of the fourth inning. Shortstop Giuseppe Pappacio led off with a double to left field. Catcher Carlos Escobar followed with a double to the left-center field wall. As the ball caromed off the wall, Pappacio waited to tag up on the play and only advanced to third base with nobody out. Darrah stranded those runners as he struck out the next two batters and got Amaya to fly out to center to end the inning.
South Bend, the Class-A affiliate of the 2001 World Series Champion South Bend Silver Hawks, broke the game open with two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. First basemen Carter Bell led off the inning with a line drive single to center. Shortstop Pedro Ruiz followed with a base hit to right that put runners at first and second with no outs. Velazquez hit into a fielder’s choice with the out recorded at second base, leaving runners at the corners with one out. Velazquez went on to steal second base before designated hitter Fidel Pena bounced a single up the middle over a drawn-in infield to score both runners, making the score 5-1 in favor of the Silver Hawks.
The Hawks added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Brito led off with a ground rule double to left field into the picnic garden. He advanced to third on a groundout before scoring on left fielder Alex Glenn’s single to center that made the score 6-1.
Kane County, the Class-A affiliate of the 1908 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, was unable to muster any offense the rest of the way off of Darrah and the Hawks bullpen. Darrah pitched five innings, allowing just the one run in the third inning. He struck out three Cougars while allowing seven hits. The Hawks bullpen continued its sterling work of late by throwing four shutout innings in relief of Darrah. Tyler Green pitched into and out of trouble in the sixth as he loaded the bases but escaped with no damage. Jose Jose and Thomas Brendel each pitched a scoreless inning to get through the seventh and eighth innings. Hawks closer Enrique Burgos closed the door on the Cougars with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The Hawks and Cougars close out the three-game series on Friday night with first pitch set for 7:35pm. Righthander Jose Rosario (0-5, 6.00 ERA) takes the mound for the Cougars while righty Kyle Winkler (1-2, 3.90 ERA) gets the start for the Silver Hawks. There are a number of exciting promotions at the Cove on Friday night. It is Barefoot night at the Cove with free wine tastings during the game. There will also be fireworks after the game as it is Fireworks Friday. Finally, the much anticipated Star Wars night is back. Even your Silver Hawks will be in theme with special jerseys. Around after the game you shall stay for both fireworks and a showing of Return of the Jedi on the videoboard. May the Force Be with You.