Pena Powers Hawks Past Bees 6-3
Third baseman Fidel Pena launched a three-run homer and an RBI triple in his first game with South Bend this year as the Silver Hawks (17-9, 57-38) defeated the Burlington Bees (13-13, 51-44) 6-3 on Thursday night at Four Winds Field. Shortstop Andrew Velazquez had his minor-league record on-base streak snapped at 74 games thanks to a sliding catch in the left field corner by Bees left fielder Tyler Palmer in the bottom of the seventh but the rest of the team picked up the slack on offense.
The Burlington Bees, the Class-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, got on the board first with a run in the top of the second. Catcher Stephen McGee led off the frame with a double into the right field corner. Then during Palmer's at-bat, McGee advanced to third on a wild pitch by Hawks starter Brent Jones (W, 1-0) and then scored on the next pitch as the ball got away from Michael Perez behind the plate. The passed ball put the Bees in front 1-0.
The South Bend Silver Hawks, the Class-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, struck back with three runs of their own in the bottom of the second. With one out, right fielder Stryker Trahan doubled off the wall in right-center. Second baseman Jamie Westbrook then drew a walk to put runners at first and second. Pena then stepped into the box in his first at-bat as a Silver Hawk this season. Pena roped a 1-0 offering from Burlington starter Yency Almonte (L, 2-1) into the parking lot beyond the right field concourse to push the Hawks in front 3-1.
The Hawks added a run in the bottom of the third thanks to another long ball. Left fielder Chuck Taylor launched a 1-2 pitch from Almonte to just underneath the video board in right-center. The Hawks were able to tack on more runs off of Almonte in the fourth after he had recorded the first two outs of the inning. Perez started off the rally by drawing a walk. Pena followed up his earlier homer with a triple to the right field corner to score Perez. Then center fielder Daniel Bowman singled to center to push Pena across the plate and give the Hawks a 6-1 advantage.
Burlington closed the gap with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth. With one out, shortstop Erick Salcedo lined a single to left and second baseman Kody Eaves followed with a double down the right field line that put runners at second and third with one out. Third baseman Angel Rosa plated Salcedo with a line drive single to left that advanced Eaves to third and ended up with Rosa at second on a throwing error by Taylor in left. Center fielder Mike Fish cut the lead to 6-3 with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Eaves. Jones escaped the inning with a three run lead as he got first baseman Eric Aguilera to ground out to second to end the inning and his night on the mound.
The bullpens took over from there as neither team was able to score for the rest of the game. Tom Jameson, Will Locante, Nick Sarianides, and Silvino Bracho (S, 18) each tossed a scoreless inning for the Hawks. Greg Mahle, Ben Carlson, and Alex Blackford kept the Hawks off the board for 4 1/3 innings. The only excitement in the final innings was whether or not Velazquez could keep his streak alive but Carlson retired him with help from a great defensive play by Palmer in left.
The Hawks and Bees meet up for the rubber game of the three-game series on Friday night at 7:35pm. Righty Clint Sharp (5-5, 5.17 ERA) gets the start for Burlington while righty John Omahen (4-3, 3.06 ERA) takes the ball for the Hawks. Come on out to Four Winds Field as the Hawks are celebrating Christmas in July. Get in the spirit with an ugly sweater contest, visit with Santa, Frosty and toy soldiers and even help decorate Christmas trees at the park. There will also be Friday Night Fireworks so stick around after the game for the Silver Hawks' famous fireworks spectacular.