SOUTH BEND, IN - Tuesday night's game between the South Bend Cubs and Lansing Lugnuts took 13 innings before the Cubs came out on top 3-2 behind Zack Short's walk-off home run.
The Cubs are now a half game behind the Dayton Dragons with five games remaining to clinch the second playoff spot of two births given to the top two teams in each division at the midway point of the season.
WHAT HAPPENED: The Cubs got on the board early with a run in the first inning coming off the bat of Alberto Mineo. After Zack Short reached first base safely with a lead off walk, Mineo singled to score Short from first.
Lansing came back to tie the game in the fourth inning as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. got the inning started with a leadoff walk. Coming as no surprise to many South Bend fans, Guerrero Jr. would go on to score the tying run, this time off Mitch Nay's double.
The Lugnuts continued the scoring in the fourth on Yeltsin Gudino's single scored Nay to give Lansing a 2-1 lead that would hold up until the bottom of the eighth.
Then, with two outs, Vimael Machin executed a perfect squeeze bunt single to score Roberto Caro and tie the game 2-2.
With the ninth inning remaining scoreless, the Cubs and Lugnuts took the ballgame to 13 innings before a winner was declared.
With no outs in the top of the 13th inning, Zack Short turned a 2-2 count into a walk-off home run off Andrew Deramo to end the ballgame in dramatic fashion and keep the Cubs' first half playoff bid alive.
"We've seen [Deramo] before, and in the back of my mind I knew he had a pretty good off-speed pitch, but I saw it come in and I got under it and things ended up really good for us," said Short. "We all know what it takes and we all want to pop Champaign in the first half of the season and I think we have the right guys to do it."
KEYS TO THE GAME: South Bend held Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to just one hit in six plate appearances on the night.
Coming into tonight's matchup, the son of former MLB MVP Vladimir Guerrero was hitting .500 with five RBI throughout 24 at-bats in six games against the Cubs this season. Guerrero Jr. is currently ranked as the Toronto Blue Jays No. 1 Prospect according to MLB.com.
Likewise, the Cubs also silenced the bat of Lugnuts top-hitter, Bo Bichette, who went 1-6 while leaving two runners on base.
Bichette, currently ranked as the Blue Jays No. 5 prospect according to MLB.com, is hitting .388 with a 1.088 OPS in 51 games played this season.
RONDON'S SOLID OUTING: Cubs starting pitcher Manuel Rondon held the Lugnuts to two runs on three hits over five innings in Tuesday night's ballgame. Despite walking four hitters, one of which allowed Lansing to tie the game, Rondon, gave the Cubs an excellent chance to win.
In his last three starts prior to the ballgame, Rondon had only allowed five runs over his last 15 and one-third innings pitched. However, his 4.97 ERA does not do his potential justice as he is no stranger to success.
In 12 games started for the Eugene Emeralds last season, Rondon went 6-1 with a 1.10 ERA while picking up 47 strikeouts in 57 and one-third innings pitched. His fantastic statistical resume in the 2016 season also helped the Emeralds capture the 2016 Northwest League Championship.
Nevertheless, with the no-decision last year's Northwest League Pitcher of the Year remains 7-2 over 12 games started for South Bend this season.
Cubs: South Bend will send Duncan Robinson to the mound for the second game against the Lugnuts. After being named the Chicago Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month for the month of May, Robinson is 0-1 with a 1.38 ERA in two games started for South Bend throughout the month of June.
Lugnuts: The Toronto Blue Jays Midwest League affiliate, now 4-4 against South Bend, looks to make a comeback in tomorrow's game in order to keep their first half playoff hopes alive.
Photo credit: Emma Reese
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.