SOUTH BEND — Under the Official Rules of Baseball, a regulation baseball game is nine innings long, but the South Bend Silver Hawks would prefer to remember only eight of them after Thursday night’s game at Four Winds Field. Taking away the fourth inning, the Hawks outscored the Lake County Captains 6-4.
However, in the top of that inning Lake County put up 9 runs on the way to a 13-6 win over the South Bend squad. Despite the loss, the Silver Hawks remain in first place in the Eastern Division of the Midwest League by half a game.
The Lake County Captains, Class-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, jumped on the board first. In the top of the first inning, designated hitter Clint Frazier singled to right. Third baseman Paul Hendrix followed with a single to center. Frazier and Hendrix then moved up to third and second respectively on a 4-3 ground out by catcher Eric Haase. The Captains took the early lead thanks to a single to center by left fielder Torsten Boss that brought Frazier and Hendrix home for a 2-0 advantage.
The South Bend Silver Hawks, the Class-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, struck back in the bottom of the second with four runs of their own. Third baseman George Roberts led off the frame with a double to the right field corner. In a deja-vu moment, designated hitter Stryker Trahan followed with a double of his own to the exact same spot in the right field corner to plate Roberts.
The Hawks kept the rally alive as catcher Michael Perez connected on a triple to right field. Perez’s ball looked like a standard single, but the ball took a high bounce off the turf and over Cody Ferrell’s head in right allowing Trahan to score. Right fielder Zach Esquerra brought Perez home with his ground ball single back up the middle into center. In what looked like it could be an inning ending double play off the bat of left fielder Chuck Taylor, Esquerra advanced to second and Taylor was safe at first on the E-4 fielding as Claudio Bautista bobbled the grounder. Shortstop Andrew Velazquez lined a single to center to bring Esquerra around from second and push the Hawks in front 4-2.
The Captains evened the score in the top of the third. Center fielder Logan Vick led off with a triple off the center field wall. Before he could catch his breath, Vick scored on a single to right by Frazier. Frazier continued his march around the bases with a combination of a wild pitch and a 5-3 ground out by Hendrix. Haase then lofted a ball into foul territory down the first base line. Second baseman Jamie Westbrook made a great running grab, but by catching the ball deep in foul territory, it allowed Frazier to tag up from third and score to knot the game at 4-4.
The Captains propelled themselves to full steam ahead in the fourth. First baseman Grant Fink led off the wave of runs with a double to right center. Ferrell was plunked by a John Omahen (L, 1-2) offering and shortstop Ivan Castillo singled to right to load the bases. A walk to Vick scored the first of nine runs for the Captains in the fourth. This brought John Omahen’s night to a close as Tom Jameson entered in relief.
The fury continued as Frazier doubled off the center field wall to clear the bases as Ferrell, Castillo and Vick all scored. Hendrix followed with a single to move Frazier to third. A bloop single by Bautista to center scored Frazier and advanced Hendrix to third. Fink followed with a broken bat single to right as Hendrix scored. The hit parade continued as Ferrell doubled to the right field corner to score Bautista and Fink. A Castillo single to left scored Ferrell from second before the inning mercifully ended, but not before the Hawks trailed 13-4.
South Bend countered with two runs in the bottom of the seventh. Velazquez reached on a fielder’s choice. Then first baseman Daniel Palka kept his hot hand in the homestand, launching another homerun to right field.
The Silver Hawks begin a three-game showdown with the West Michigan Whitecaps Friday night at Four Winds Field that will determine the First Half Champions in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division. South Bend is half a game up on the ‘Caps with three games left to play in the first half.
The first game of the series is set to begin at 7:35 p.m. Friday night. Austin Kubitza (6-0, 2.08) will take the mound for West Michigan, the Class-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Sean Furney (2-2, 5.12) will start for the Hawks.
Friday is Barefoot Night at the Ballpark, featuring free wine tastings presented by Gallo Barefoot Wine. Then stick around after the game for the Silver Hawks’ famous fireworks spectacular, presented by 1st Source Bank and WNDU.
It’s also Princess at the Park on Friday! The Princess Package is only $20 and includes 2 lawn seats, a pre-game red carpet paparazzi photo shoot beginning at 6:30 at Gate A with Princess Belle and Cinderella, and a pre-game princess parade on the field at 7:00 p.m.