There was good defense... and bad defense. There was lots of hitting! Some pitchers threw well. Others... not so much. No one struck out at all until the second out of the fourth inning, then the offensive explosion the SB Cubs had been on in that inning pretty much ended. That is, until the Lugnuts made things interesting in the last two innings.
Let me back up a bit. The SB Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the second on solo homers by Yasiel Balaguert (who, I am convinced, the local PA announcer in Lansing had to stop himself from saying "Yasiel Puig" several times) and David Bote. Bote isn't really a prospect; Balaguert could be, though at age 22 he's repeating Low-A.
Then South Bend got things rolling in the fourth inning. The first seven batters in the inning all got hits, and all of them were solid blows, line drives or sharp ground balls. Lugnuts starter Conor Fisk (no relation to Carlton Fisk, I was told) really didn't have anything in that inning and he was left in by manager Ken Huckaby until he got the first out. When he followed that by giving up a long double in the gap, he was finally removed.
The baby Cubs were held to one run on six hits the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, Jake Stinnett... well, I really wanted to write something nice about Jake Stinnett, but even though his pitching line -- five hits and one run in five innings -- doesn't look too bad, he was just not impressive. He walked four. That's not good. He struck out just one. He has a pretty good mound presence and by appearance seems to know what he's doing, but just doesn't have the velocity or location you'd like to see from a No. 2 draft pick. He touched 90 on the stadium pitch-speed meter (I was told this might not be accurate) only a couple of times. Middling as this outing was, it lowered his ERA... to 5.00. He's got a lot of work to do.
Reliever Alex Santana threw two scoreless innings for the SB Cubs, striking out three, but Sam Wilson was not so good. After he retired the first two hitters in the eighth, he gave up a single and a walk and then a three-run homer to the charmingly-named Boomer Collins. Left in to start the ninth with a six-run lead, he walked the leadoff hitter and gave up another single. At that point six of seven hitters had reached base against him and the only out, the last out of the eighth, was a sharp line drive speared nicely by third baseman Jason Vosler.
That's when the only error of the game occurred, and it was by Gleyber Torres. It appeared Torres, with runners on first and second, was thinking "double play" before he had the ball in his glove, and he booted it. Torres also made some nice plays in this game and went 3-for-5, and I had to keep reminding myself that he's only 18. He appears on target to be at the very least a good big-league player, but I wouldn't have any problem if Theo & Co. decided to leave him at South Bend all year.
Two more outs were recorded in the ninth by Wilson, but one out from victory Dawel Lugo singled in two runs and manager Jimmy Gonzalez called on Corbin Hoffner, who got a groundout to third to end it.
Balaguert wound up with four hits and had a chance, in the ninth, to hit for the cycle. Coming to bat with a single, double and home run in four trips, he hit another single to go 4-for-5. Bote also had three hits, along with three RBI. South Bend had 18 hits in all.
Charcer Burks, who left Wednesday's game with an injury, has a minor ankle sprain and is not expected to have any DL time. He'll probably be back in the lineup in a couple of days.
The teams will play the rubber game of the series Friday evening. Michael Wagner, the Cubs' 15th-round pick in 2013, will pitch against Starlyn (pronounced star-LEEN, I'm told) Suriel.