The Great Lakes Loons (39-34 overall, 3-1 second half) broke a 1-1 tie on a walk-off sac fly RBI off the bat of left fielder Darien Tubbs to score catcher Stevie Berman in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 2-1 win over the South Bend Cubs (Chicago Cubs) at Dow Diamond this afternoon.
The Loons managed to take 3 of 4 from South Bend (40-33 overall, 1-3 in the second half) moving into a second place tie with the Lake County (OH.) Captains (Cleveland Indians) while improving to 3-1 in the second half of the MWL season, just 1-game behind the (4-0) West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers).
With the game tied at 1-run apiece in the bottom of the ninth, Berman ripped a 1-out single and advanced to third on a single by first baseman Erick Meza, setting the table for Tubbs, who (during a timeout) asked manager Jeremy Rodriguez if he wanted him to bunt, or swing away.
Rodriguez told the former University of Memphis Tiger he had the green light to swing away, boosting his confidence.
“I was just trying to get up (and) under something to hit deep enough so Steive (Berman) could score,” Tubbs said. “I was just trying to stay off the ground really. I had asked him (coach Rodriguez) if he wanted me to bunt, and he was like, no, I believe in you, just try and drive the ball somewhere.”
“That honestly made me feel a lot better,” Tubbs said of getting the green light from his skipper. “Honestly, I haven't really had a lot of confidence in myself lately, but I'm glad that he does and that helped me big time.”
The game began as a classic pitchers duel featuring two MWL All Stars as Loons' starter Dustin May battled against South Bend's highly touted starter Dylan Cease.
Neither starter would disappoint, however, it was May (3.56 ERA) who would go deeper into the game, keeping the Cubs in check in his first start (since the All Star Game) allowing just 5-hits and 2-walks, while striking out 5-batters through 6 1/3 scoreless innings.
Cease (1-2, 2.76 ERA) put on a show as well, coming close to perfect, with the exception of 2-walks, while striking out 5-batters through 4-innings.
The Loons had jumped out to a 1-0 lead earlier in the game when Berman singled, advanced to third on a single by Meza, then scored on a wild pitch by South Bend reliever Tyler Peyton in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The Cubs broke through in the top of the eighth inning when third baseman Zach Short drove in center fielder Roberto Caro with an RBI single to tie the game at 1-run apiece midway through the eighth.
Loons reliever Christian Stolo (2-2, 3.31 ERA) gave up that 1-run on 3-hits, while striking out 3-batters through 2 2/3 innings, earning his second win of the season for the Loons.
Meza paced the Loons offense, going 2 for 3 with a walk, while Berman was 1 for 3 and scored both of the Loons runs. Tubbs, who reached base 3 times today (on a single, a walk, and a dropped ball third strike) was 1 for 2 and had the game winning RBI, while Oneil Cruz, Cody Thomas, and Keibert Ruiz each added hits as well.
The Loons will now head out on a 4-game road trip against the Lake County Captains (Cleveland Indians) Mon-Thur before returning home to close out the month of June with a 4-game home series with the West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers) Fri-Mon at Dow Diamond next week.