MIDLAND, Mich. – Through the first three games of the series, the South Bend Cubs have held to the Great Lakes Loons to a combined four runs over those 27 innings, including Monday’s 5-1 loss for the Loons. With starter Jordan Sheffield scheduled for a short outing entering the game, Great Lakes pitchers aided the opposition’s cause by walking six batters in the first two innings at Dow Diamond.
The compensatory 1st round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers last month, Sheffield (L, 0-1) pitched 2/3 of an inning and allowed two runs, both earned, on three hits. It was just the Vanderbilt product’s second professional appearance since getting drafted with the other coming in the Arizona League on July 27.
In his third consecutive relief appearance after 15 starts prior to that, lefty Victor Gonzalez issued four free passes of his own and allowed the other three runs on two hits.
Two runs from the 1st inning would prove to be all the Cubs (24-13; 65-41) would need to win as P.J. Higgins walked and scored, while Alberto Mineo singled and scored on an Eloy Jimenez double. It wouldn’t be the only run-scoring extra-base hit for the Chicago Cubs outfield prospect in the game. The next frame saw South Bend tack on three more runs with Jimenez putting the cherry on top with his second double of the game to push the lead to 5-0.
Jimenez was joined by Eddy Martinez as the two players to have multi-hit games for the Cubs while Omar Estevez and Luke Raley each had two hits apiece for Great Lakes.
It took until the 6th for the Loons (16-20; 45-61) to get on the board after South Bend starter Justin Steele (W, 4-5) had exited the game. With two outs, Luke Raley singled and then scored all the way from first base on a double to the right-center gap by Logan Landon. Despite his 14-game hit streak getting snapped on Sunday, Landon had the lone RBI for Great Lakes in the game.
Shea Spitzbarth (3 1/3 IP) and Gavin Pittore (3 IP) got plenty of work out of the bullpen with the short outings by Loons pitchers ahead of them. Catcher Garrett Hope, who spent the first eight innings behind the plate, came on and had a 1-2-3 top of the 9th inning on the mound.
Kyle Twomey and Scott Effross each had four strikeouts in relief for South Bend. For the game as team, the Cubs pitching staff recorded 15 strikeouts.
The Loons will hope for a series split on Tuesday after falling behind in the set. Teenage right-hander Imani Abdullah (2-3, 3.54 ERA) is slated to start for Great Lakes while the Cubs will counter with Jose Paulino (0-0, 5.40 ERA). Pregame coverage can be heard on ESPN 100.9-FM with the Loons On-Deck Circle powered by Dow Corning beginning at 6:35 p.m. Chris Vosters and Brad Tunney will have the call.
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