MIDLAND, Mich. - The Midwest League's top slugging team nursed a one-run lead before finally flexing its muscle Tuesday at Dow Diamond.
South Bend - which leads the MWL in home runs - broke open a 2-1 game with solo homers in the sixth and eighth innings and posted a 4-1 win over the Great Lakes Loons in front of 3,367 fans.
The Silver Hawks also got another strong pitching performance from John Omahen, who last year played in the independent Frontier League, to snap the Loons two-game winning streak. The Loons are 6-6 in the season's second half.
Great Lakes' lone run came on a third inning homer by Jacob Scavuzzo, his fifth of the season.
South Bend never trailed after getting two runs in the top of the third inning off of Loons starter Zachary Bird. They loaded the bases with two out before Palka lined a shot that Loon rightfielder Joey Curletta got his glove on, but couldn't hold on to, bringing home two runners.
"That wasn't an easy play because the ball kind of took off on him," said Loons manager Bill Haselman. "He could have caught it, but that ball was hit pretty well."
Scavuzzo got a run back for the Loons with his line shot over the wall in left, but Stryker Trahan homered off of Loons reliever in the sixth inning, while Palka hit his league-leading 16th homer, also off of Hershiser, in the eighth.
Omahen (4-2) pitched seven strong innings to earn his second win of the season over the Loons. Omahen gave up four hits, struck out six batters while walking only one. Bird (4-10) took the loss but pitched five solid innings, giving up just one unearned run while striking out six.
"I didn't think he had his best stuff tonight," said Haselman. "But he still worked out of trouble and that shows me something when he can do that without his best stuff."
The two teams square off again Wednesday night (7:05 p.m.) at Dow Diamond with Brandon Martinez (1-3, 3.45 ERA) starting for the Loons. He'll face South Bend right-hander Blake Perry (5-2, 3.41 ERA).
Tomorrow is Hump Day Happy Hour at the ballpark, in which fans can take advantage of drink specials from the time gates open until one hour after the published game time.
The Great Lakes Loons are an eighth-year Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. For tickets and more information, call 989-837-BALL or visit loons.com.