Eastlake, OH: At the very moment he stepped on the rubber at Classic Park against the Lake County Captains, Ricky Tyler Thomas entered his groove.
Like many of his starts this season, Thomas controlled the game at his own pace by firing quickly while changing speeds and locations. The southpaw finished with 6.2 innings pitched, just two runs allowed, and seven strikeouts to bring his record to 2-3. He was a major part of the Cubs 4-3 win.
South Bend got on the board early with two quick runs in the top of the 1st inning after both Jared Young and Austin Filiere scored on consecutive wild pitches thrown by Lake County starter Juan Hillman.
Hillman struggled to find the strike zone in the first frame, but settled in for the middle innings and not giving up another run until the 7th. The Cubs started the top of the 7th with Miguel Amaya's fifth home run of the season. The 19-year-old Amaya got all of the pitch that Hillman delivered and pounded it over the left field wall.
The game winning run came in the same inning when Brandon Hughes singled, stole second base, and ultimately scored on another line drive hit from Rafael Narea. The Cubs took the 4-2 lead into the 9th inning.
Making his 2018 South Bend debut, left hander Manuel Rondon replaced Thomas in the game. With a scoreless 8th, Rondon trotted to the mound to close the game for the Cubs. Rondon, who won 14 games with South Bend last season, ran into trouble in the 9th inning by loading the bases.
With one out in the 9th, it was up to right hander Enrique De Los Rios after he came in relief of Rondon. The Cubs exchanged an out for a run when Jonathan Laureano dribbled a ball to the third baseman Filiere. A run scored to make the game 4-3.
With the tying run at second base and winning run at first, De Los Rios got the ground ball he needed and forced Austen Wade to ground out to end the game. The Cubs improve their record to 16-19 on the campaign moving into the second doubleheader of the series tomorrow night.
South Bend and Lake County split the first doubleheader on Monday night with the Cubs taking game two 11-0. They will send right hander Javier Assad to the mound for game one tomorrow night. First pitch is set for 5:00 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.