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 South Bend Cubs

Santana Shines in 8-3 Cubs' Opener Win at Fort Wayne

August 29, 2023 - Midwest League (MWL)
South Bend Cubs News Release

Fort Wayne, IN - In the first game after they were eliminated from playoff contention, the South Bend Cubs traveled to their in-state rival's place, Parkview Field, to face-off with the Fort Wayne TinCaps. South Bend showed no signs of not being playoff bound in the series opener on Tuesday, defeating the TinCaps 8-3 behind another fabulous start from Tyler Santana, and a powerful day at the plate.

Tuesday began with right-hander Edwuin Bencomo pitching against the Cubs for the fifth time this year, but the first where he has started a game. Ezequiel Pagan wasted no time getting the action started, as he punched a lead-off single into left to begin the game. The next batter was Brennen Davis, who launched his first home run in his return to the Cubs on rehab deep over the center field wall.

As fans were just rolling into the stadium, and before some sat down, the Cubs already had a 2-0 lead.

It was some immediate run support for Santana, who breezed through his first three innings. Santana sent the first nine TinCaps down in order over three innings, and the Cubs bats kept on backing him up.

The 2nd inning began just as the 1st did. Luis Verdugo mashed a lead-off single into left field, and the next batter was Josh Rivera. The Chicago Cubs 2023 third-round pick was still in search of his first Midwest League home run, and he got it in a big way. Facing Bencomo with Verdugo at first base, Rivera turned on a pitch and launched it sizzling into the home run porch in left field.

South Bend had doubled up their lead to 4-0 on two massive home runs by Davis and Rivera. And Santana continued to hammer it home against the TinCaps. Fort Wayne picked up two runs against Santana, but he still finished his outing with a quality start of six innings, with two runs allowed, no walks, and six strikeouts.

Santana earned his second straight win, and now has given up only three runs over his last three starts in a combined 15 innings.

Davis continued a strong night at the plate with a double in the 5th, then immediately scored on a flare single from James Triantos. As Santana departed after six frames, that gave way to righty Johzan Oquendo, who was extremely sharp in bullpen relief.

Oquendo's bottom of the 7th inning featured getting out of it on a 5-4-3 double play. And if he needed any further, Oquendo got even more run support.

The Cubs capitalized on an RBI single from Yohendrick Pinango in the 8th, then Christian Franklin came home to score on the same play when center fielder Sammy Zavala's relay through skipped into the South Bend dugout. Pinango later scored when Rivera smacked his second hit of the day, reeling in his third RBI.

For Rivera, it was his second three-RBI game in less than a week, with the last being on Friday. Oquendo earned the save with a clean bottom of the 9th inning, and South Bend was victorious in the opener.

The Cubs have an opportunity to play spoiler this week, as the TinCaps are now 2.5 games back of a playoff spot in the East Division with West Michigan beating Lansing tonight. Game 2 of the series between the Cubs and TinCaps will follow on Wednesday night at 6:35 PM. Right-hander Connor Noland is the expected starter for the Cubs.

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