Eastlake, OH - After dropping Game 1 of the Midwest League Championship Series against the Lake County Captains at Four Winds Field on Sunday, the South Bend Cubs were put in a must-win situation with their backs against the wall. The Cubs beat the Captains on Tuesday night to even
Eastlake, OH - After dropping Game 1 of the Midwest League Championship Series against the Lake County Captains at Four Winds Field on Sunday, the South Bend Cubs were put in a must-win situation with their backs against the wall. The Cubs beat the Captains on Tuesday night to even the series, and defeated Lake County Wednesday night by a final of 7-4 to win their second Midwest League Championship in three seasons.
In 2019, the Cubs swept the postseason with a perfect 7-0 record. In the 2022 playoffs, South Bend had to win two separate winner-take-all games on the road in Cedar Rapids and Lake County.
Wednesday’s game saw an early morning forecast of potential rain outside of Cleveland. Just as the Chicago Cubs did in 2016, a championship was won on a Wednesday in Ohio. As game time approached, the skies were clear and the Cubs sent right-hander Porter Hodge to the mound.
Hodge pitched in Game 2 of the Division Series versus Cedar Rapids, and he earned his first career playoff win with five innings pitched and three runs allowed. South Bend gifted Hodge five runs of support when the Cubs put away a monstrous top of the 3rd inning against Lake County starter Aaron Davenport.
In his previous regular season start against South Bend, Davenport lasted only 0.2 innings and quickly was chased out of the game. He made it though 2.2 innings in Game 3 of the Championship Series, and surrendered Owen Caissie’s biggest swing of the season. Fabian Pertuz led off the frame with a single, Jordan Nwogu walked, and Caissie clubbed a deep drive over the right field wall for a three-run home run. The ball cleared the hitting facility that is past the concourse. It was one of the longest home runs by a Cub all season.
Two batters later, BJ Murray singled after a pitching change brought in left-hander Raymond Burgos. Pablo Aliendo stepped up to the plate and crushed a ball dead-center for another home run. It was 5-0 Cubs.
Taking a big punch, Lake County did respond well and scored three runs in the next half-inning on base hits from Joe Naranjo and Milan Tolentino.
From that point on, South Bend pitching locked in and Hodge completed his 4th and 5th innings with scoreless work. The first man out of the South Bend bullpen was Joe Nahas. Working this season in all situations from long relief, saving games, and starting them too, Nahas masterfully tossed three innings and gave up his only run on a groundout.
The Cubs added a couple insurance runs in the top of the 5th as Caissie walked to start the frame, and Luis Verdugo rifled South Bend’s third home run of the night.
With the 7-4 lead in their pocket, Sheldon Reed entered the game with the job of recording the final three outs. As the skies were dark and still with a humid feel in the air, Reed allowed a lead-off double to Yordys Valdes. Following that point, Reed recorded three consecutive groundouts to end the game and give the Cubs the title.
South Bend celebrated and jumped all over one another on the field in celebration of another banner being raised at Four Winds Field. A terrific night, a memorable game, an incredible season, and an amazing group of players, coaches, and front office members. The 2022 campaign is yet another huge chapter in South Bend franchise history.