Cubs reclaim series lead with 6-4 win

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 11:10 AM EDT
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APPLETON, Wi. -- The South Bend Cubs (32-36) beat the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (32-36) 6-4 Thursday night, in a game in which both teams went 2-for14 with runners in scoring position and combined to strand a staggering 30 baserunners.

Dylan File made the start for the Timber Rattlers, his fourth rehab start since opening the season on the 60-day IL after offseason elbow surgery. He required 32 pitches to get through the first inning. D.J. Artis reached on an infield single with one away but was erased on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Tyler Durna. Nelson Velazquez and Bryce Ball both followed with full-count walks, Ball appearing to catch a break after appearing to go around for what would have been strike three. Jake Slaughter immediately took advantage swinging at the first pitch and ripping a two-out, two-RBI single to center.

Matteo Bocchi (4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K) would also labor through the first inning. The right-hander from Italy tossed 24 pitches in his first frame but stranded the bases loaded when he struck out LG Castillo swinging to strand ‘em, loaded.

South Bend added to the lead the next inning when Dean Nevarez took a pitch for a ride over the wall in dead center. It was Nevarez’s first at-bat ever with South Bend and just his fourth total AB of the season.

The fourth inning looked like it was going to be the springboard for a Rattlers comeback. They loaded the bases with nobody out vs. Bocchi and pitching coach Tony Cougoule came out to make a mound visit. The right-hander turned it right around getting a foul pop-up and back-to-back strikeouts to get out of the inning blemish-free.

Instead it was the next inning that started a potential Wisconsin comeback. After loading the bases for the second-straight inning with no outs, Hunter Bigge walked in a run to make it 3-1, his third walk in a row after Delvin Zinn started the inning with an error at short. Another run came in on a fielder’s choice and the Timber Rattlers scored two runs in the inning without a hit.

The Cubs got those two runs right back the next inning. Edmond Americaan led the sixth off with a walk and Artis followed with a single. After Artis advanced on a wild pitch, Durna picked up his third hit of the night and scored Americaan from third. Nelson Velazquez followed with a grounder to second that was hit softly enough that the only play was to first and Artis scored.

Eury Ramos came on for the eighth inning with Cubs up 5-3 and got the first two batters he faced. Je’Von Ward then singled and came around to score after three wild pitches. Thomas Dillard walked on the wild pitch that scored a run and Carlos Rodriguez legged out an infield single to continue the inning. With the tying-run at third and the go-ahead run at first, Ramos got Castillo swinging to end the threat.

And in the ninth it was insurance time. Ryan Reynolds drew a five-pitch walk to start the inning and then came in to score on a double to the gap in left-centerfield from Nevarez. Americaan then walked as the bottom three batters in the final frame all reached consecutively. Eventually the Cubs loaded the bases with one out but couldn’t add to the two-run lead.

Ramos picked up the six-out save with a three-up, three-down ninth inning.

Next Up: TBA vs RHP Justin Bullock (5-2, 2.90 ERA). The Cubs and Timber Rattlers continue their series tomorrow night with first pitch at 8:05 p.m. ET, South Bend has yet to announce their starter.