Fort Wayne, IN: Playoff baseball will be returning to Four Winds Field for the first time since 2016. In a 6-4 win over the Fort Wayne TinCaps to close out their three game series, the South Bend Cubs punched their ticket to the postseason thanks to a strong performance on the field and some help from the West Michigan Whitecaps. Since West Michigan beat Lansing, the Lugnuts were eliminated from playoff contention.
Now with a playoff spot clinched, the Cubs will return home to South Bend tomorrow night to begin a new series against the Bowling Green Hot Rods. Bowling Green will face South Bend in round one of the playoffs, but it is still to be determined of who will be crowned the Eastern Division Champion. In order to win the division, South Bend must sweep Bowling Green.
Friday night's win was jump started by another strong pitching performance from Cam Sanders. After allowing an early run in the bottom of the 1st inning, Sanders settled in and cruised through five innings with just the lone run allowed and three strikeouts. He picked up his eighth win this season and lowered his ERA to 2.94.
South Bend put their starter in line for the win with a strong rally in the top of the 4th inning against Ryan Weathers. Weathers, the first round pick of San Diego in 2018, was on his game through the first three innings. However, the Cubs smacked five hits in the 4th inning alone and scored three runs.
Both Nelson Velazquez and Marcus Mastrobuoni continued his strong performances in the series and drove in runs in the frame. Velazquez knocked in six runs in the three-game series and Mastrobuoni had four.
Already with the lead, the Cubs truly broke the game open when Nelson Maldonado picked up South Bend's most clutch hit of the night in the top of the 7th. Down two strikes, Maldonado ripped a triple down the right field line and cleared the bases to make it a 6-2 game.
Out of the bullpen, Brandon Hughes, Sean Barry, Brian Glowicki, and Ivan Medina all worked one inning each to close out the win. The Cubs are now 74-60 on the season and will get ready for their final regular season series this year. First pitch from Four Winds Field Saturday night is set for 7:05 PM.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.