Lansing, MI: The South Bend Cubs used a seven-run top of the 4th inning to beat the Lansing Lugnuts 8-4 and to tie their series at a game apiece on Thursday night. In his return to the Midwest League, starting pitcher Zach Mort fired a quality start with six innings and just two runs allowed to earn the victory.
Mort started the season in the South Bend bullpen and was subsequently sent to short-season Eugene to stretch his arm out to become a starter. The right-hander struck out three batters and gave the Cubs a chance to win with the strong return.
The South Bend offense backed up their starter with plenty of run support early. After jumping in front early 1-0 on a Fidel Mejia RBI groundout, the Lugnuts tied it with a solo home run from LJ Talley. After that point, the Cubs bats got hot.
South Bend scored seven runs in the top of the 4th inning against three pitchers. Lansing starter Juan De Paula was responsible for five runs in the inning, Randy Pondler allowed two, and Andy McGuire finished it off. De Paula got just one out in the inning when Mejia drove in Nelson Velazquez on a RBI sac fly.
The Cubs batted around in the inning and Velazquez, Roederer, and Mejia both got two at-bats in the frame. Velazquez, Marcus Mastrobuoni, Jake Slaughter, Andy Weber, and Nelson Maldonado all singled. Roederer and Luis Vazquez doubled, while Darius Hill walked. By the end of the night, six of the nine Cubs hitters had driven in at least one RBI.
The big 4th inning was all South Bend needed to finish off the Lugnuts and tie the series. Out of the bullpen, Eugenio Palma and Carlos Vega tossed the final three innings. South Bend finished with 14 hits in the game compared to the Lugnuts seven.
With tonight's win, the Cubs move back to a three game lead over Lansing for the Eastern Division wild card spot. They still sit two games back of Bowling Green for first place. They will have the opportunity to win the series tomorrow with first pitch at 7:05 PM.
Also, South Bend Cubs manager Buddy Bailey has now passed Larry Gilbert for 6th place on the all-time Minor League Baseball manager wins list with 2,129. Bailey started this season in 10th place, and has now driven his way all the way to 6th. Next season, he can potentially jump into 5th place.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.