Williams shines but South Bend drops finale

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By: Mi9ke Monaco/South Bend Cubs

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – South Bend starting pitcher Ryan Williams spun six more shutout innings, but the Cubs dropped the series finale against Fort Wayne, 6-3, on a warm Sunday afternoon in front of 6,054 fans at Four Winds Field.

Williams lowered his Midwest League-best ERA to 0.35, but Fort Wayne (7-14) nabbed three runs in the seventh, two in the eighth and one in the ninth and held on to snap South Bend’s four-game winning streak and avoid a sweep. Williams struck out five and didn’t issue a free pass in the six innings of four-hit ball. The former East Carolina standout has now worked 21 consecutive scoreless innings.

Fort Wayne starter Dinelson Lamet (3.0 innings, two hits, five strikeouts) and reliever T.J. Weir (3.0 innings, one base-runner on a Fort Wayne error) kept the Cubs quiet through six stanzas. South Bend (13-11) did plate two runs in the seventh against TinCaps righty Aaron Cressley.

Williams and Lamet matched one another zero for zero through the first three innings. Cubs left fielder Charcer Burks aided Williams in the fourth by scaling the wall to make a leaping grab. South Bend shortstop Gleyber Torres dove to his right to snare a scalded line drive in the sixth inning.

After six scoreless innings, Fort Wayne climbed ahead in the seventh inning against Cubs right-handed reliever Ryan McNeil. TinCaps right fielder Nick Torres kicked off the frame by lacing a single to right field. Fort Wayne third baseman Duanel Jones then lifted a high fly ball into center field. With the wind gusting, Cubs center fielder Rashad Crawford misplayed the ball, allowing Torres to scoot to third and Jones to meander into second. Designated hitter Henry Charles then punched an RBI single to right-center field, and Trae Santos followed two batters later with a well-struck two-run single to lift the TinCaps ahead 3-0.

Crawford made up for his mishap in the home half of the seventh with a two-out double to deep center field. He scored to make it 3-1 as Burks followed with a two-bagger of his own. Burks then scored and trimmed the margin to 3-2 by scoring on an RBI single up the middle by Torres. With Torres at first, Chesny Young sliced a wall-ball double to right-center field, but Torres was gunned down at home trying to score the game-tying run from first.

The TinCaps earned those runs back in the eighth off a two-run double by Jones that propelled Fort Wayne back up 5-2. Santos tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly in the ninth.

South Bend tightened the deficit to 6-3 on a Burks RBI single in the last of the ninth.

South Bend welcomes Great Lakes to town Monday for the start of a three-game series. Cubs right-hander Jake Stinnett (0-1, 6.60 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Loons righty Grant Holmes (0-0, 6.32 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. ET.