South Bend starter Brent Jones (W, 3-2) gave the fans reason to celebrate on Fan Appreciation Night at Four Winds Field. Jones tossed five innings of scoreless ball as he allowed only 3 hits while striking out seven. Despite giving up four errors on the night, the Hawks combined for 13 hits, including an inside the park homer from shortstop Andrew Velazquez en route to leveling the series with a 5-1 victory.
The South Bend Silver Hawks, Class-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, were the first to strike with a run in the bottom of the second. With two outs, second baseman Jamie Westbrook singled to shallow left. First baseman Marty Herum followed with a triple off the batter's eye in center to plate Westbrook from first to give the Hawks an early 1-0 edge. It was Herum's second triple of the young home stand.
The Hawks offense heated up in the bottom of the fifth as they got to Lansing starter Jeremey Gabryszwski (L, 6-4) for three runs. Center fielder DJ Bowman started the rally with one out as he laced a double to the left field corner. Then it was a display of power and speed as Velazquez connected on the first pitch he saw, taking it off the top of the wall in deep center. Once Velazquez set the wheels in motion he never looked back as he raced around the bases almost passing Bowman for his second inside the park home run of the season. The hit parade continued as left fielder Chuck Taylor singled to shallow center. Shortstop Joe Munoz then got the end of the bat on a Gabryszwski offering for a slow rolling nubber towards short. Dawel Lugo fielded the ball cleanly, but had to hold the throw as he did not have a play. Right fielder Justin Williams roped a single to left to score Taylor from second and push Munoz to second. Westbrook then grounded hard to towards third. As the ball got by Mitch Nay at third, Munoz circled the bag not suspecting that Lugo was backing up the play. Before Munoz could dive back to third, Lugo tagged him out to end the inning, but not before the Hawks had built a 4-0 lead.
The Lansing Lugnuts, Class-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, snuck a run across in the top of the seventh. With one out, second baseman David Harris reached on an E-3 field as Herum was unable to hang on to Fidel Pena's throw across the diamond from third. During left fielder Chaz Frank's at-bat, Harris stole second and then continued on to third on Frank's 4-3 ground out. Catcher Daniel Klein then grounded to Munoz at short for what appeared to be the third out of the inning. However, Munoz's throw to first was low and in the dirt allowing Harris to score on the E-6 throwing as Herum was unable to scoop the ball as Lansing was on the board 4-1.
South Bend got the run the back in the bottom of the seventh of Lugnuts reliever Francisco Gracesqui. Pena led off the frame with a triple to just left of center field. After Williams was hit by a pitch, Westbrook lofted a ball to right for a sacrifice as Pena was able to cross the plate before Derrick Loveless' throw reached home.
The Hawks bullpen was then able to close the door on the Lugnuts. Bud Jeter and Will Locante combined for three innings of relief, giving up only one unearned run on no hits while striking out three. That set the stage for Jose Jose in the ninth. After striking out center fielder DJ Davis and Harris to start the inning, Jose's control escaped him as he issued back-to-back walks. Silvino Bracho (S, 23) was summoned from the bullpen and struck out pinch hitter Justin Atkinson to secure the 5-1 Hawks victory and record his league leading 23rd save.
The Silver Hawks and Lugnuts wrap up the series Sunday afternoon at 2:05 p.m. at Four Winds Field. Sean Furney (7-6, 3.86) gets the start for the Hawks, and Starlyn Suriel (1-2, 2.86) is scheduled to take the mound for the 'Nuts.
Sunday is Fallen Heros Day at Four Winds Field. In recognition of all First Responders, tickets to Sunday's game are buy one get one free for police, fire and EMS workers. Must present an ID or badge at the Four Winds Field Box Office when purchasing tickets. In addition, the 14th Annual Corporal Paul Deguch Community Service Award will be presented to a Silver Hawks' player who has demonstrated outstanding community service throughout the course of the season. Fallen Heros Day is presented by Midland Engineering.
Sunday is also Family and Swoop Troop Day. Bring your mitts for a pre-game catch on the field beginning at 1:15. Then come back down on the field following the game for autographs from the Silver Hawks' players.
Finally, it's Silver Hawks Poster Giveaway weekend. The first 1,500 fans for each game this weekend will receive a free Silver Hawks Poster, presented by Villing and Co. and Mossburg Printing.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.