South Bend, Ind. The South Bend Silver Hawks won a tight pitcher’s duel over the Bowling Green Hot Rods on Saturday night at Coveleski Regional Stadium 2-1. First baseman Rudy Flores provided the offense with a two-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning to back up starting pitcher Jesse Darrah’s six scoreless innings in the victory.
Both offenses struggled to score early on Saturday night as the two starting pitchers matched zeroes through the first five innings. The first threat of the game came from Bowling Green (70-53, 32-23) as first baseman Patrick Leonard walked with two out in the top of the second inning. Designated hitter Geoff Rowan lined a double to the right-center field gap that put runners at second and third with two outs. Hawks starter Jesse Darrah (11-8) escaped the jam by striking out shortstop Brandon Martin to end the inning.
South Bend (77-47, 33-22) could not break through against Hot Rods starter Austin Pruitt. Pruitt got into a jam in the bottom of the third inning. With one out, Alex Glenn grounded a single through the right side to give the Hawks their first base runner of the night. Shortstop Andrew Velazquez singled to center to put runners at first and second with only one out. Second baseman Fidel Pena laced a line drive to right but it was straight to the Hot Rod right fielder for the second out of the inning. Pruitt kept the Hawks off the scoreboard by retiring right fielder Socrates Brito on a fly ball to left to end the inning. Pruitt took a no decision despite throwing five scoreless, three-hit innings for the Hot Rods.
Bowling Green, the Class-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, threatened again to take the lead in the top of the sixth inning. With two outs, third baseman Leonardo Reginatto lined a single to left. Left fielder Marty Gantt followed with a bouncer to center that moved Reginatto around to third base. A pitch in the dirt by Darrah advanced Gantt to second while Reginatto stayed put at third. Darrah then finished off his night by getting Leonard to ground out too short to end the inning. Darrah went six scoreless innings while allowing four hits and striking out six Hot Rods in the winning effort.
South Bend, the Class-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, took the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning against Bowling Green reliever Matt Spann (3-3). Pena was hit right between the shoulder blades to lead off the inning. Spann then struck out Brito for the first out of the inning. With third baseman Brandon Drury at the plate, Pena stole second. Drury then worked a walk to put two runners on with one out. Flores then launched a double high off the left-center field wall to score both runners and give the Hawks a 2-0 lead.
Tyler Green came in to pitch the top of the seventh for the Hawks and he tossed a scoreless inning. He escaped a first and third, one out jam by getting an inning-ending double play from center fielder Joey Rickard. Bowling Green cut into the South Bend lead in the top of the eighth inning. Kyle Winkler came into pitch for the Hawks and gave up a leadoff double down the left field line to second baseman Tommy Coyle. With one out, Reginatto singled, advancing Coyle to third. Gantt lofted a sacrifice fly to right that cut the South Bend lead to 2-1. Winkler escaped the inning with the lead intact as he stranded men at first and second by getting designated hitter Geoff Rowan to fly out to center to end the inning.
Jimmie Sherfy (S, 2) came into the game and earned his second save of the year in making his home debut. The Hot Rods managed to put two men on in the inning as Rickard singled with two outs and Coyle walked to put men at first and second. Sherfy escaped the jam by getting catcher Luke Maile to swing at a ball in the dirt. Catcher Roidany Aguila picked up the ball and threw Maile out at first to end the game.
The Hawks and Hot Rods will continue the series on Sunday afternoon with first pitch scheduled at 2:05pm. Blake Snell (3-8, 4.41 ERA) gets the start for the Hot Rods while Aaron Blair (0-0, 0.00 ERA) makes his Midwest League debut for the Hawks. It is Family Day at Coveleski Regional Stadium, so enjoy a pre-game catch on the field and post-game autographs with Hawks players. It is also Fallen Heroes Day where the Hawks will honor all first responders and present an award to a Silver Hawks’ player that has demonstrated outstanding commitment to community service. Finally, make sure to get to the park early as the first 500 fans through the gate will receive an Archie Bradley bobblehead. Bradley was a first round draft pick (7th overall) of the Diamondbacks in 2011. He is currently a member of the Class-AA Mobile Bay Bears, where he was a Southern League All-Star selection and pitched for the United States in the 2013 MLB Futures Game. In 2012 in South Bend, Bradley held opponents to a .181 batting average, leading the Midwest League.