Beloit, WI - Only one undefeated team in the Midwest League remains for the second half of the season, and that ball club is the South Bend Cubs. Since passing the halfway point of the campaign, South Bend has played some of their best baseball of the year and continued
Beloit, WI - Only one undefeated team in the Midwest League remains for the second half of the season, and that ball club is the South Bend Cubs. Since passing the halfway point of the campaign, South Bend has played some of their best baseball of the year and continued the strong play on Wednesday night at ABC Supply Stadium, defeating the Beloit Sky Carp by a final of 5-1.
South Bend has now won seven straight games, and now back-to-back contests on the road. In the series, the Cubs have scored first each game and have never trailed at any point. On Wednesday, Jordan Wicks got the start for South Bend and was coming off his shortest outing of the year in 1.2 innings against Peoria. He showed no signs of struggle in Beloit, and started his night with a 1-2-3 inning.
The starting pitching matchup was a solid one, as Wicks went against big right-hander M.D. Johnson. Johnson had already lost once to the Cubs this season back in April, although he only gave up one run in six innings. South Bend shutout Beloit that day by a final of 3-0.
Johnson’s experience then was much of the same tonight. As Wicks set the table for South Bend to have success, the Cubs scored first for a second straight game. In the top of the 2nd, Jake Washer led off the frame with a double, then BJ Murray stepped up to the plate. Facing Johnson, Murray took a high and inside pitch, checked his swing to protect himself, and made contact with the baseball. The ball hit the barrel with enough force that the ball was looped into left field for a base hit.
Washer scored easily and the Cubs led 1-0 off an emergency swing. With some run support for Wicks, he finished his night with five strikeouts and zero walks. The only blemish for Wicks came when he surrendered a double to Cody Morissette, and then sharp single to Midwest League batting leader Ynmanol Marinez. Beloit had it tied at 1-1 after four innings.
That tie game would not last for long, however. As Wicks was the pitcher of record, Pete Crow-Armstrong brought in the eventual game winning run in the top of the 5th. Pablo Aliendo, who had three hits, singled, then Luis Verdugo slapped a double to put him and Aliendo in scoring position. Verdugo has four hits in the series, and they’re all two-baggers.
Following Wicks’ departure, the bullpen locked things down for the Cubs. Big righty Yovanny Cruz pitched his second game with South Bend and fired a scoreless inning in the 6th. Eduarniel Nunez then earned his seventh hold of the season with two shutout frames. Before Zac Leigh locked down the final three outs in the 9th, the Cubs bats came alive yet again.
The top of the 8th had South Bend picking up a three-run outburst courtesy of three separate two-out RBI base hits. Yeison Santana walked to start the inning, but was caught stealing shortly later. Justin Evans then punched out Yohendrick Pinango, but the next batter was Jake Washer, who singled.
That’s when the train started firing on all cylinders. Owen Caissie launched a double into the right-center field gap, scoring Washer, Fabian Pertuz doubled in Caissie, and Murray picked up his second RBI of the night on another single.
Wicks earned his second professional win, while Johnson took another loss against the Cubs despite a second quality start.
With the win, South Bend now sits in sole possession of first place in the Midwest League’s West Division for the second half. Wisconsin is a game back of the Cubs, and Beloit is now two games behind. With four games to go on this road trip, South Bend can separate themselves from the Sky Carp with continued success.
First pitch on Thursday night in Beloit is set for 7:35 PM EST. Right-hander Kohl Franklin is the expected starter for South Bend.