The Great Lakes Loons (31-29) relied on 2-home runs in support of some stellar pitching to down the (36-24) South Bend Cubs (Chicago Cubs) 4-0 in front of 2,585 fans to take the first game of a 4-game home series at Dow Diamond tonight.
The Loons had been clinging to a 1-0 lead when shortstop Oneil Cruz and DH Keibert Ruiz reached on back to back 2-out singles, setting the table for left fielder Mitchell Hansen (2) who roped a 3-run home run, his second of the year, to extend the lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Great Lakes Starter Jordan Sheffield (1-3, 2.76 ERA) the 36th overall pick by the Dodgers in the 2016 MLB draft out of Vanderbilt University, put together his best start this year, allowing just 4-hits and 3-walks, while striking out 2-batters through 5 1/3 scoreless innings to earn the shutout for his first win of the season.
Early on, South Bend starter Duncan Robinson (5-3, 1.36 ERA) looked like he was going to be making it a long night for the Great Lakes hitters after striking out the first two batters of the game, however, Loons right fielder Carlos Rincon (10) had another idea, taking Robinson deep with a 2-out solo home run to straight away center field, his tenth of the season for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Rincon had been leading the Midwest League in home runs for a good part of the season before going into somewhat of 'homer-slump' a few weeks ago.
After going deep nine times in the first two months of the 2017 MWL season, the 19 year old international free agent from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic had not homered since May, 24 against the Dayton Dragons (Cincinnati Reds) at Dow Diamond.
Robinson was tagged with his third loss of the season for South Bend after giving up the 1-run on 4-hits and 2-walks, while striking out 4-batters through 6-innings tonight.
Loons reliever Andre Scrubb (H,2) recorded his second hold of the season, allowing 1-hit and 1-walk, while striking out 1-batter through 2 1/3 innings of relief, setting up a save opportunity for closer Angel German.
German (SV,3) entered the game with a 1-0 lead (a half inning before Hansens 3-run HR) and shut down the Cubs' batters with 4-straight outs, including 2-strikeouts through 2 1/3 innings for his third save in four save-opportunities this year.
The Loons will try to make it two in a row tomorrow night at 7:05 pm for game-2 of the series at Dow Diamond.