LANSING, Mich. - On the first proper night of NFL preseason, the South Bend Cubs (25-21, 62-52) hit paydirt with a touchdown of runs in the fourth inning and went on to double up the Lansing Lugnuts (22-24, 54-61), 8-4, on Thursday night at Cooley Law School Stadium.
With the victory, the Cubs rebuilt their lead for the Eastern Division wild card to three games over the Lugnuts with 24 games remaining in the regular season.
South Bend sent 12 batters to the plate against three Lugnuts pitchers in the pivotal fourth inning, breaking a 1-1 tie on a Fidel Mejia sacrifice fly, and then adding to their lead on RBI singles from Marcus Mastrobuoni and Jake Slaughter, a two-run single from Andy Weber, a Nelson Maldonado RBI single, and, lastly, a Cole Roederer sacrifice fly.
Lansing starter Juan De Paula (Loss, 3-6) bore the brunt of the damage, giving up six total runs on seven hits and three walks with one strikeout in 3 1/3 innings. He was followed to the mound by Randy Pondler , who allowed three hits, one walk and two runs before departing due to injury precaution after Maldonado's RBI single struck him in the back. Andy McGuire recorded the final two outs of the frame.
McGuire went on to toss 2 2/3 hitless, scoreless innings, with Josh Hiatt firing three scoreless innings after him, but the Lugnuts were unable to overcome the deficit.
South Bend right-hander Zach Mort (Win, 5-2) worked six innings in his first Midwest League start, fanning three while allowing two runs on three hits and two walks.
Second baseman LJ Talley and catcher Gabriel Moreno each belted solo home runs in the loss. Talley's home run, a solo shot in the third, was the second of his professional career; he finished the game 2-for-2 with the home run, an RBI single and two walks. Moreno's homer, leading off the ninth inning, was his tenth of the season.
The result sets up a rubber match in the three-game series, set to take place on Friday at 7:05 p.m. on a Cottage Inn Pizza Party / Knights of Columbus Night with post-game LAFCU Fireworks! Lansing right-hander Fitz Stadler (4.95 ERA) starts against South Bend right-hander Derek Casey (4.98). To live the Lug Life and purchase tickets, visit lansinglugnuts.com, call (517) 485-4500 or come to the Cooley Law School Stadium box office at 505 E. Michigan Ave. in downtown Lansing.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.