Trevor Harden (WP, 4-1) earned his fourth straight victory, and is now tied for the Midwest League lead in wins.
He struggled with his command in the first, allowing a run on two walks, a
single, and a hit batter.
"I was just missing down and away, which is natural for me sometimes,
because I'm a sinkerball pitcher," Harden diagnosed after the game.
"Sometimes just overthrowing maybe, trying to get the extra movement on the
pitch instead of just letting it do what it does."
Harden would later hit his fifth batter of the season, which puts him
second in the Midwest League.
"Hit batsmen I can live with, because that's part of the game - trying
to be a pitcher and throw inside," he continued. "Walks are a different
story. I need to cut down on those, make sure those don't happen.
Hit batsmen don't bother me, because you're trying to accomplish something."
Pitching coach Erik Sabel went to the mound after Harden allowed the
first inning run. Harden then struck
out Grant Desme and induced a weak popout from Jeremy Barfield to strand runners
on second and third.
"He just told me to get back on line, get back on top of the ball, and
get it down, basically. And if you don't, then you know what happens."
Harden settled in to a groove and turned in his third straight quality start. The right-hander Harden went 6.2 innings, allowing three runs on just four hits. Harden struck out five on his way to his team-leading fourth win of the season.
Offensively, South Bend took advantage of some miscues by the Cougars, scoring three unearned runs in the first four innings against Kane County starter Matt Fitts (LP, 0-4). Fitts committed a throwing error in the second, allowed an RBI single to Rossmel Perez for the first run, and then balked in the second run of the inning for the 2-1 Silver Hawks lead.
Perez struck again in the top of the fourth, with an RBI single to score Alfredo Marte for a 3-1 advantage. Perez took second on the throw home from the right fielder, and then went to third when the throw got all the way back to the screen. The aggressive base running paid off as Perez scored on a wild pitch for the 4-1 lead, and the third unearned run of the game.
Brendan Duffy and Nelson Gomez added RBI singles in the fifth, and Alberto Diaz picked up an RBI when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the sixth to round out the scoring for South Bend.
Matt Ray scored two runs in the game for Kane County, including one on his
fifth-inning solo homer. The Cougars brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but Bryan Woodall (ND) struck out Ray with runners at second and third to preserve the 7-4 victory.
It was Woodall's fourth punchout of the game, as he fed Kane county hitters a
steady diet of plus-sliders.
"I usually throw 50/50 fastballs/sliders," said Woodall. "[The
slider has] been a good pitch for me before. I try to work off my
fastball, but when I get behind in the count, most days I feel pretty good with
it so I can use it rather than just throw repeated fastball after fastball."
* Harden is now at least tied for first n the Midwest League in wins,
shutouts, complete games, and innings pitched
* Woodall's four punchouts marked the third consecutive game that a
South Bend pitcher fanned at least four in relief
* Rossmel Perez went 2-for-5 and is batting .444 since joining the
club out of extended spring trining
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