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South Bend Cubs Coast Past Bowling Green, 7-4

Jeremy Null tosses five shutout innings as Cubs improve to 2-0
April 10, 2015

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - After a thrilling walk-off win on a historic Opening Night on Thursday, the South Bend Cubs put together a complete encore performance with a 7-4 win over the Bowling Green Hot Rods on a brisk Friday night at Four Winds Field.

Cubs right-handed starting pitcher Jeremy Null delivered five shutout innings, and the offense scratched out 11 hits, scoring multiple times in three different frames. South Bend center fielder Trey Martin knocked in three runs from the leadoff spot.

"It felt great," Null said of his first start. "We've been grinding through spring training, getting some innings under us. It felt good just to be out here throwing live in front of a crowd in a real game situation."

Null worked quickly and efficiently to start the night, striking out four consecutive Hot Rods across the first two innings.

"He set the tone," Cubs manager Jimmy Gonzalez said. "Just by him doing that allows us a chance to stay in the game and do what we did."

The former Western Carolina Catamount continued cruising, only allowing one hit out of the infield in the five shutout frames.

Null retired 14 of the last 15 Hot Rods he faced, surrendering just two hits and piling up seven punchouts. The 2014 15th-round draft pick was buoyed by outstanding defense, as Cubs left fielder Rashad Crawford made a sliding catch in the top of the third and first baseman Gioskar Amaya sprawled to his right to snare a sharp grounder in the fifth. Null, who stands at 6-foot-7, mixed an upper-80s fastball with a tight slider.

"It helps a lot," Null said of his height. "It creates more of a downhill plane on the ball and it helps with my breaking ball. I try to use it as much to my advantage and stay tall on the mound."

South Bend started the scoring in the bottom of the third inning. After singles from Jesse Hodges and Crawford, Martin stepped to the plate with runners at second and third and one out. Martin ripped one at Bowling Green shortstop Cristian Toribio, who mishandled the hard-hit grounder, allowing Hodges to score easily. Cubs second baseman Chesny Young then shot a single back up the middle to plate Crawford, and Martin scored on a passed ball, as South Bend grabbed a 3-0 lead.

Bowling Green (0-2) cracked the score column in the top of the sixth inning on a pair of infield singles from designated hitter Jace Conrad and second baseman Riley Unroe and a broken-bat bloop single by third baseman Grant Kay. The Hot Rods trimmed the deficit to 3-2.

South Bend wasted no time answering, nabbing two more runs to push the lead back to 5-2 in the bottom of the sixth. Catcher Cael Brockmeyer doubled to the right-field corner, following up a three-hit showing in Thursday's season opener. The Cubs added two more in the seventh when Martin ripped a two-run single back where it came from.

The South Bend bullpen surrendered four runs, but left-handed reliever Tommy Thorpe buttoned up the victory by striking out Hot Rods center fielder Thomas Milone.

South Bend aims for the series sweep Saturday against Bowling Green at Four Winds Field. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. Cubs right-hander Erick Leal is scheduled to oppose Hot Rods righty Hyrum Formo.