SOUTH BEND — The South Bend Cubs beat the Bowling Green Hot Rods 2-1 Thursday, April 9, at Four Winds Field.

Cael Brockmeyer led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a first-pitch home run to propel South Bend and make a winner of reliever James Farris

But it was almost beside the point, such was the party that surrounded the event.

South Bend has had minor league baseball in the modern era since 1988, but the excitement has ramped up since the club became the low Class-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.

Rain caused the tarp to stay on the field until less than an hour before the 7:09 p.m. first pitch, but then it was a clear night. Two hours into the game, it was still 72 degrees.

An opening-day record crowd of 7,086 came out to see the season opener and to enjoy the pageantry.

Earlier arrivals had the chance to rock out to the sounds of "Blammo" and take some cuts in the cages at the new South Bend Cubs Performance Center before settling in to see a tribute to Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, the introductions of mascots Stu D. Baker and Swoop from South Bend and Clark The Cub from Chicago.

Fans also go to see a first pitch by Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operation Theo Epstein and a pitch-perfect National Anthem by Wayne Messmer.

South Bend Cubs owner Andrew Berlin was seen in the company of Epstein and new Midwest League president and South Bend resident Dick Nussbaum.

PA announcer Jon Thompson, on-field host Mark McGill and pre-game host Mike Monaco kept all informed.

The bubble machines were blowing near the Stanley Coveleski statue near the center field gate.

A fireworks show followed the game.

Fans roared in the second inning as Jeffery Baez socked a first-pitch solo shot to left center field for the first home run in the South Bend Cubs era.

Bowling Green pulled even in the third on a solo clout by Thomas Milone.

Behinds the scenes, dozens of workers were keeping "Thirsty Thursday" customers happy with food, drink and souvenirs. A crew even came in each inning to clean the restrooms.

The Cubs are scheduled to play Bowling Green again at 7:35 p.m. Friday, April 10 (more fireworks), and 7:05 p.m. Saturday, April 11, before embarking on a six-game roadtrip with stops in Dayton and Fort Wayne. A homestand is slated for April 18-23.

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