SOUTH BEND — Left fielder Daniel Palka laced a double and a triple, and closer Silvino Bracho nailed down his league-leading 19th save of the season to lead the South Bend Silver Hawks (19-11, 59-40) to a 5-4 win over the Peoria Chiefs (17-13, 54-45) on Monday, July 21 at Four Winds Field.
Hawks starter Sean Furney (6-5) turned in a strong five innings of work and four different Silver Hawks drove in runs as they took the rubber game of the three-game set.
South Bend took an early lead in the bottom of the firs. With one out, center fielder Chuck Taylor was hit by an offering from Peoria starter Arturo Reyes (6-6). Palka followed with a double of the wall in right-center to plate Taylor and put the Hawks up 1-0.
Peoria, the Class-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, struck back with a run of their own in top of the second off Furney. First baseman Justin Ringo led off the inning with a single to center. After a walk to designated hitter Ronald Castillo, Luis Perez singled up the middle to load the bases. Richy Pedroza lofted a ball to center to score Ringo on the sacrifice while Castillo and Perez held at second and first, respectively.
Third baseman Rafael Medina then stepped in the box and grounded to deep short. Hawks shortstop Andrew Velazquez fielded the ball deep in the hole and fired an off-balance throw across the diamond to just beat out Medina at first. The highlight reel-worthy play saved two runs and ended Peoria’s rally with the score at 1-1.
The Hawks got the run back in the bottom of the second. Second baseman Jamie Westbrook led off with a bunt single down the third base line. Catcher Michael Perez followed with a double off the top of the wall in right-center to push Westbrook to third. Perez originally ended up at third with a triple, but after some discussion among the umpires, Perez was sent back to second and Westbrook to third as the ball was ruled to have bounced over the right-center field fence and back into play for a ground-rule double. Westbrook was able to later cross home on a wild pitch during Velazquez’s at-bat to put the Hawks in front 2-1.
South Bend added three runs over the third and fourth innings. With one out in the third, Palka tripled off the top of the wall in left-center. Third baseman Joe Munoz scored Palka on his sacrifice fly to center. In the fourth, Westbrook led off with a single back up the middle. Perez laced a double to the right field wall to score Westbrook. As the throw came home, Perez was able to move up to third. Designated hitter Fidel Pena then added to his RBI count with a sacrifice fly to center to score Perez and push the Hawks lead to 5-2.
The combo of Furney, Tom Jameson and Adam Miller kept the Hawks lead at 5-2 going into the eighth. After quickly recording the first two outs of that inning, the Chiefs were able to rough up Hawks reliever Will Locante. Castillo started the rally with a triple to the gap in right-center. Luis Perez then walked to put two runners on with two outs.
Another triple, this one by Pedroza, scored both Castillo and Perez. If the ball had been about a foot higher, it could have cleared the fence and tied the ball game. Instead, Locante retired Medina for the third out of the inning and kept the lead intact at 5-4.
Bracho was able to enter in the top of the ninth to shut the door on the Chiefs, striking out two of the three batters he faced, to earn his 19th save.
After a day off Tuesday, the Hawks begin a six-game road trip Wednesday at Kane County.