Williams Works Wonders, Wins Wild One for Hawks 11-6
The South Bend Silver Hawks (32-24, 72-53) won a wild one on Monday night at Four Winds Field as they plated four in the first, gave up five in the second, but came back to take an 11-6 win over the Dayton Dragons (27-29, 63-61). Right fielder Justin Williams homered, drove in four runs and scored three, including what turned out to be the deciding run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Second baseman Jamie Westbrook chipped in with three RBIs of his own.
South Bend, the Class-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as they jumped out to a lead in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, the Hawks loaded the bases on two walks sandwiched around a Fidel Pena single. Williams then singled through the left side to plate left fielder Chuck Taylor from third and Pena from second for a 2-0 lead. Westbrook followed with a two-run triple to left-center that scored third baseman Joe Munoz from third and Williams from first for a 4-0 lead.
The Hawks did not hold the lead for long as Dayton, the Class-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, struck back with five runs in the top of the second to take the lead. Center fielder Phillip Ervin led off with a double to center. Catcher Jose Ortiz drove in the first Dragons run of the game with a double to left that plated Ervin. With one out, third baseman Tanner Rahier doubled to center to cut the lead to 4-2. He then scored on a single up the middle by designated hitter Avain Rachal that made it a 4-3 game. Right fielder Jonathan Reynoso followed with a double to deep-center that tied the game at 4-4. With two outs, Hawks starter Ryan Doran (W, 2-0) could not get out of the inning as he gave up a triple to shortstop Alex Blandino that scored Reynoso for a 5-4 Dragons lead.
Dragons starter Amir Garrett (L, 7-7) could not hold the lead as he gave it back to the Hawks in the bottom of the third. Munoz led off the inning with a walk and Williams also walked to put runners at first and second with no outs. Westbrook grounded a single to left to load the bases with nobody out and knocked Garrett out of the game. Joel Bender entered to replace him and quickly struck out the first two batters he faced to give the Dragons a chance to get out of the inning with the lead. Bender was unable to complete the escape act however as he hit designated hitter D.J. Bowman on the foot with a curveball to force home Munoz and tie the game at 5-5. He then uncorked a fastball to shortstop Andrew Velazquez that sailed way over the catcher's head and straight to the backstop, allowing Williams to score from third for a 6-5 South Bend lead.
The Hawks added to their lead in the bottom of the fourth. With two outs, Williams tripled deep over the center fielder's head. Westbrook came to the plate and gave the Hawks a 7-5 lead with a grounder that the shortstop was able to dive and knock down but Westbrook easily beat out the throw for an RBI infield single.
Dayton pulled back to within a run in the top of the fifth inning. First baseman Robert Ramirez led off with a double to left. Ervin then laced his second double of the night, this one to the gap in right-center. Ramirez scored to make it 7-6 but Ervin was gunned down trying to stretch it into a triple as Pena threw to Westbrook who made a perfect relay throw to third to nail Ervin.
Both bullpens settled down after the fifth and kept the opposing offenses off the scoreboard until the eighth inning. Bender threw a strong five innings for the Dragons, allowing just one run and striking out nine Hawks. Alex Byo relieved Doran in the top of the sixth and threw two shutout innings to keep the Hawks in the lead. Bud Jeter then follow suit in the eighth as he kept the Dragons off the score board for a 7-6 Hawks lead.
South Bend added some insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Pedro Diaz came in to relieve Bender and surrendered a leadoff bunt single to Velazquez. Taylor walked to put runners at first and second and Pena bunted the runners over to second and third with one out. Munoz hit a drive to deep right that was flagged down by the Dragons' outfielder but was deep enough to let Velazquez jog home and stretch the South Bend lead to 8-6. Williams was up next and he laced a 3-1 fastball the opposite way and over the left-field fence for a two-run homer and a 10-6 Hawks lead. Westbrook worked a walk and first baseman Marty Herum singled to put runners at first and second. Catcher BJ Lopez lined a single to center that scored Westbrook and made it 11-6. Jose Jose entered the game in the top of the ninth and closed it out for the Hawks with a perfect inning.
The Hawks and Dragons meet up again on Tuesday night at Four Winds Field with first pitch scheduled for 7:05pm. Sal Romano (7-10, 4.13 ERA) gets the start for Dayton while Anthony Banda (8-6, 3.30 ERA) gets the ball for South Bend. It is Triple Play Tuesday at Four Winds Field where you can get a game ticket, hot dog, and a drink for just $10 with a coupon from the South Bend Tribune.