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South Bend Cubs lose first game of 2021, 9-8 to Quad Cities

Unfortunately, a five-run lead was too tall an order for a Cubs comeback, as South Bend managed one baserunner in the ninth but fell 9-8 to the River Bandits.
Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 12:02 AM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. - In a back-and-forth contest, a late South Bend rally falls short as the Cubs fall for the first time this season 9-8 to the Quad Cities River Bandits. Quad Cities scored six of their nine runs in the fifth, and South Bend scored half of their eight in the last three frames.

Max Bain started off a little rocky from the mound for South Bend, walking the first batter of the game on five pitches and allowing a two-run blast to the very next hitter, Nick Loftin. The Cubs lineup had their starter’s back, tacking on two in the bottom half of the first to tie it up. South Bend took advantage of poor command from Zach Haake, as the right-hander walked three of the game’s first four batters. After nine straight balls from Haake, Cub catcher Cam Balego drove a fastball to right to score Luis Vazquez on a sacrifice fly for the Cubs’ first run. Bryce Windham would follow that up with an RBI single to tie it before Tyler Durna was caught in a rundown trying to advance to third.

Each team was held scoreless in the second but the Cubs took the lead in the following frame. Chase Strumpf laced a double down the right field line and scored on a fielding error. River Bandit second baseman Jeison Guzman was well positioned on the outfield grass but couldn’t handle Durna’s hard hit grounder. The Cubs would load the bases and chase Haake, but Delvin Zinn flied out to Gentry in right to keep the score at 3-2. The lead wouldn’t last long, as Nathan Eaton singled in a run three batters into the fourth. Graham Lawson, who relieved Bain at the start of the frame, walked the next hitter but got out of the jam, forcing River Bandit centerfielder John Rave to ground into a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning. Run trading continued in the bottom half of the fourth, with D.J. Wilson and Luis Vazquez starting things off with a single apiece. Chase Strumpf drove in his first run of the season on a sacrifice fly to right, which scored Wilson and advanced Vazquez to third. South Bend once again left runners in scoring position after Durna grounded out to first base.

Disaster struck the Cubs in the top of the fifth when Graham Lawson and Shane Combs combined for six runs allowed, three of them earned. Lawson allowed a walk and a hit before leaving Combs to clean up the two runners on base. Combs tossed less than half of his pitches for strikes, walked two and threw two wild pitches. Chase Strumpf had an easy chance to end off the inning with at just a 6-4 deficit, but he dropped an infield pop-up with two outs that scored two River Bandit runners. Combs’ second wild pitch plated the sixth and final run of the inning before he struck out Guzman, who was batting for the second time in the frame.

After a scoreless sixth, South Bend began to rally in the seventh frame, starting with a two-out, two-run double by Yonathan Perlaza that cut Quad Cities’ lead to 9-6. A wild eighth inning led to two more Cubs runs, on a wild pitch and a throwing error by Garrett Davila attempting to catch Reivaj Garcia stealing. Garcia pinch ran for Cole Roederer after he was hit in the leg by Davila two at bats prior. Unfortunately, a five-run lead was too tall an order for a Cubs comeback, as South Bend managed one baserunner in the ninth but fell 9-8 to the River Bandits.

South Bend finished with 13 hits, more than triple the total of four for the River Bandits. Strumpf (3-3, BB, 2B, RBI), Perlaza (3-4, 2B, 2 RBI) and Bryce Windham (2-5, RBI) finished with multi-hit games, but the Cubs went 2-11 with runners in scoring position and left a total of nine runners on base. Nolan Watson (1-0) picked up his first win since 2018 for Quad Cities, striking out two and allowing three earned runs in 3 and two-thirds innings of work. Yohanse Morel pitched a scoreless ninth and earned the save (1). Graham Lawson (0-1) suffered his first loss, walking three and allowing three earned runs in an inning and a third.

The South Bend Cubs continue their six-game series vs Quad Cities tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. Tickets for tomorrow’s game and every South Bend Cubs home game can be purchased by clicking here.

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