After scoring 16 runs Wednesday, South Bend saved plenty more offense for Thursday and claimed a series win over Lake County by topping the Captains, 10-0, at Four Winds Field.
South Bend (7-8) poured on another 10 runs, highlighted by a six-run third inning, on 12 hits and seven walks by Lake County pitching. Trey Martin (2-for-5, two runs), Chesny Young (2-for-5, one run), Gleyber Torres (2-for-3, two RBI) and Yasiel Balaguert (2-for-4, three RBI) powered the offense.
“Maybe it’s the cold, heat the bats up,” said Young, who added two more hits to push his hitting streak to eight games. “They say hitting’s contagious and that rang true the last two days.”
Cubs right-hander Erick Leal continued a dominant stretch of starting pitching by the South Bend staff with five shutout frames. Leal only surrendered three hits and one walk to go along with six punchouts.
“He pounded the zone,” manager Jimmy Gonzalez said of the Venezuelan. “He’s a strike-thrower anyway. He mixes pitches well. He just was out there pretty much dominating the hitters, threw lots of strikes and kept the ball down in the zone.”
After one full cycle, totaling 31.2 innings, through the six-man rotation, South Bend starters have not allowed an earned run. In the last eight games, Cubs starters have posted a 0.63 ERA (just three earned runs in 42.2 innings).
After Leal departed, left-handed reliever Tyler Ihrig took the Cubs home, tossing the final four frames and only giving up one infield single. Ihrig continually mixed his pitches, including some mid-60s off-speed deliveries, and earned the save.
“First of all, he’s left-handed. He throws any pitch at any time,” Gonzalez said of the 23-year old southpaw. “He throws fastballs inside. He’s not an overpowering guy. But with his off-speed — which is like mega off-speed; he has his changeup that almost never gets there; and he throws that with a breaking ball — and then pounds a fastball inside. It makes these guys look like he’s throwing 95. He does that and he just keeps hitters off balance.”
For the 13th time in 15 games, South Bend scored first. With the bases loaded in the third, Cubs catcher Cael Brockmeyer ripped a two-run double down the left-field line, scoring left fielder Charcer Burks and Martin and pushing South Bend ahead 2-0. Torres then dribbled a slow-roller up the third-base line, and first baseman Gioskar Amaya scored without a throw.
Balaguert clobbered a rising line drive to center field that Captains outfielder Greg Allen misplayed and had to chase down in deep center. Balaguert scored two with his triple and then came around himself on David Bote’s hard-hit double to the right-center field gap — extending the margin to 6-0.
Captains reliever Thomas Pannone issued three consecutive walks in the fourth, the last of which forced in a run to make it 7-0 Cubs. Torres’ RBI fielder’s choice reeled in Amaya to put an eight on the board. Balaguert then skied a sacrifice fly to right field, and Brockmeyer scored the ninth run.
The Cubs hit double digits for the second consecutive night when Amaya’s RBI groundout scored Martin, who led off the fifth inning with a sharp single to center field.
The last time South Bend scored double-digit runs in consecutive games was June 29-30 against Fort Wayne last season, when the Silver Hawks collected 11-7 and 10-3 victories, respectively, at Four Winds Field.
South Bend hits the road tomorrow for the opener of a three-game series against the TinCaps at Parkview Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET. Cubs right-hander Zach Hedges (1-0, 1.80 ERA) is set to oppose Fort Wayne lefty Thomas Dorminy (0-2, 9.00 ERA).