SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The South Bend Cubs are in the middle of their best baseball this season. Tonight’s 2-1 win over the West Michigan Whitecaps gave South Bend their 7th straight win and second straight series sweep. Not only did the Cubs get the first half of their homestand started in a big way, but they also did it with the help of the 2016 World Series MVP.
Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist began his rehab stint with the South Bend Cubs on Friday. This was the first time Zobrist has appeared in game action since being placed on the restricted list on May 7. In four at-bats, Zobrist hit two hard line drives that were hit straight at the West Michigan right and left fielders. He also reached base once on a walk.
In his return to game action, Zobrist took three at-bats from the left side and one from the right. His lone right-handed at-bat was a laser towards the left field wall. Unfortunately, with no help from the wind, the ball died down enough for Daniel Reyes to make the catch.
The low-scoring series finale was all started by solid starting pitching on both sides. West Michigan starter Gio Arriera came into tonight with an ERA over 7.00. He showed some of his best stuff with 5.2 innings of shutout baseball.
On the South Bend side, Brendon Little continued his hot stretch by going six strong innings with just one run allowed. The 2017 first round pick of Chicago picked up a pair of strikeouts and lowered his ERA to 1.91.
Offensively, the Cubs tied the game in the bottom of the 7th inning at 1-1 thanks to an RBI double smashed down the left field line by Marcus Mastrobuoni. That score would hold until the bottom of the 11th inning.
Before South Bend ultimately walked-off, the game was saved thanks to newcomer Zac Taylor in left field. On a hard-hit ball past the left side of the infield, Taylor came up ready to fire after retrieving the baseball and threw a dart home to catch Andre Lipcius out at the plate. This gave the Cubs a jolt to go win it.
In the 11th, Clayton Daniel started the inning automatically at second base. Andy Weber and Nelson Maldonado subsequently reached to load the bases. With Cole Roederer at the dish, he took a four pitch walk from Sandel De La Cruz to win it.
With the victory, the Cubs now hold a four-game lead in the Eastern Division wild card. Because Bowling Green also won tonight, South Bend remains a game back of the division lead.
The Cubs will begin a new four-game series tomorrow night against the Great Lakes Loons. According to South Bend Cubs Manager Buddy Bailey, Zobrist is expected to continue his rehab assignment tomorrow. First pitch from Four Winds Field is set for 7:05 PM.