SOUTH BEND, IN - The South Bend Cubs (Low-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) and Lake County Captains (Low-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians) battled back and fourth in Friday night's minor league affiliate rematch of the 2016 World Series before the Captains pulled off a 6-5 upset victory.
With the loss, the Cubs saw their first half playoff hopes slip through their fingers as they have now lost their last three consecutive and hold a 6-9 record throughout the first half of June. Thus, South Bend is now tasked with making a late push in the second half of the season in order to make the playoffs.
ATTENDANCE: In just their third year as an affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, South Bend hit it's second largest attendance mark in the 30 year history of the franchise as 8,051 fans came trough the gates at Four Winds Field for Friday night's ballgame.
South Bend also set the largest franchise record as an affiliate of the Chicago Cubs in July of 2015 when 8,143 fans entered the gates. Likewise, attendance has continued to rise over the past three seasons while they also previously set their third consecutive single-season attendance record in franchise history last season after 305,803 fans filled the seats in 2016.
WHAT HAPPENED: In the first inning, Zack Short turned a 0-2 count into a leadoff double to set up Alberto Mineo's RBI single to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Mineo then scored the Cubs' second run of the inning after Chris Pieters reached with a walk and Adonis Paula hit a RBI-single, his third in as many games.
Lake County wasted no time cutting into the Cubs' lead, however, scoring one run in the second inning.
From there both teams battled back and fourth as the Captains added two more runs in the top of the third to take a 3-2 lead just before the Cubs came back with a run of their own to tie the game in the bottom of the frame.
The Captains then went on to take a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth on Emmanuel Tapia's solo shot, Lake County's second homer of the night. Continuing in the seventh, Miguel Eladio singled to score Todd Isaacs and increase the Captains' lead to 5-3.
In the very next half inning, Zack Short, who came into tonight's game hitting .299 with 10 doubles and 20 walks as a leadoff hitter, earned his 52nd walk (the most in the Midwest League) of the season to reach first with no outs.
Vimael Machin followed Short's walk with a huge double that was estimated to travel 408' before hitting the centerfield wall to score Short. If the wall were not 30' high in that part of the ballpark, the ball would have easily cleared the wall for a home run. The ball was also estimated leaving Machin's bat at 105 mph, his hardest hit ball of the season.
Again, South Bend fought back again in the bottom of the eighth behind a Yeiler Peguero double and Roberto Caro's timely RBI-triple to tie the game 5-5.
It looked like the Cubs and Captains would remain tied heading into the bottom of the ninth, but Peguero misplayed the throw back to the infield on Eladio's single, which allowed Isaac's to cross the plate as the winning run.
CEASE BACK IN ACTION: After spending nearly a month on the disabled list with an ankle injury, Dylan Cease finally made his return to the home mound at Four Winds Field in Game 1 against the Lake County Captains.
After throwing 48 pitches over 2 and 1/3 innings, Cease exited the game. Since his time on the DL, the Chicago Cubs have taken their time working their top-pitching prospect back into the rotation. In his first start after coming off his injury, Cease threw two innings while allowing one run against the Great Lakes Loons.
Cubs: With two games remaining before the All-Star break, South Bend will look to pick up some steam after going 6-9 in the month of June so far. Tomorrow's Game 2 is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
CAPTAINS: Lake County currently sits in seventh place in the Midwest League and will look to continue playing spoiler in Game 2 tomorrow night.
Photo credit: Chris Hagstrom-Jones
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.