Clinton, IA: For the first time since 2005, the South Bend baseball franchise has won a Midwest League Championship. On Saturday night in Downtown Clinton, the South Bend Cubs shutout the Clinton LumberKings by a final of 5-0 win clinch the title. After the final pitch was thrown by Brian Glowicki, the celebration immediately began.
With tonight's win, the Cubs become the sixth team this century to finish the Midwest League Postseason with an undefeated record. South Bend ended with a 7-0 playoff record and won their last nine games of 2019 dating back to the final week of the regular season against Bowling Green.
After walking off the LumberKings in 10 innings in game two, South Bend took all the momentum to Iowa going into game three. Despite facing a starting pitcher in Josh Roberson who did not give up a single run in over 22 innings coming into Saturday, South Bend did not back down. They smacked two home runs off of the right-hander to jump out to a commanding 4-0 lead.
Riley Thompson used the run support to his advantage. The tall righty from Louisville had arguably his best stuff of the 2019 season in game three. With a strong mix of his fastball, curveball, and changeup, Thompson set a new career high in strikeouts with 10. Right away, he set the tone by striking out the side in the bottom of the 1st inning.
South Bend's first home run was driven over the left field wall by Levi Jordan. The Cubs third baseman had not hit a home run on the road prior to game three. However, a Nelson Velazquez double set up the two run shot. It was a 2-0 South Bend lead after two innings.
Thompson finished his night with five innings of no-hit baseball. Despite his shutdown work, South Bend continued to provide their starter with more support. In the top of the 5th, Andy Weber lined another two run homer opposite field over the left field wall for his fourth of the season. Weber's drive flew just over the leaping glove of left fielder Peyton Burdick.
After Thompson exited, the bullpen continued the shutout performance from there. Fauris Guerrero and Eugenio Palma combined for three shutout innings. Heading to the 9th, this set up another opportunity for the closer Glowicki.
Glowicki, who entered the game with three saves already in the postseason, sent the LumberKings down 1-2-3 to end the series. On the final at-bat, Jose Devers hit a high pop-up to center fielder Cole Roederer. The Cubs star outfielder waved his hands with emotion that he had it tracked down. After Roederer made the catch, the South Bend Cubs came sprinting out of the dugout and the celebration was underway.
South Bend's championship marks the first since 2005, and Buddy Bailey's third title as a Manager in the Chicago Cubs minor league system. For many players on the team, it marked their second straight year with a championship after the Eugene Emeralds won the Northwest League title last year.
This season, the Cubs faced many call-ups that impacted the team on the field. From Tyler Durna, to Delvin Zinn, South Bend lost many game-changing players to promotion. However, according to Bailey, they all kept the same heartbeat and determination.
Also making an impact in the South Bend dugout was Kendall Graveman. The rehabbing Chicago Cubs pitcher traveled with the club to Clinton. He showed many players what being a Major Leaguer is all about. His contribution to the team in the Championship Series was unmatched.
With a championship in hand, the South Bend players and coaches will head their separate ways for another winter. But in just about six months, it will be back to step one and their championship dreams. For the 2019 South Bend Cubs, their goal set way back in April has been achieved.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.