The South Bend Silver Hawks (35-22) won a pitchers' duel on School Day at Four Winds Field Monday as they defeated the Bowling Green Hot Rods (27-30) 3-0.
The Hawks scored in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead. Then, South Bend starter Sean Furney (W, 2-1) celebrated his birthday by shutting down a Hot Rods offense that had scored 21 runs in the previous two games.
The win gave the Silver Hawks a full three-game lead over 2nd place West Michigan with the Hawks' magic number to clinch a playoff spot just 7.
South Bend scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, center fielder Breland Almadova worked a walk against Bowling Green starter German Marquez (L, 2-3).
Marquez then tried to pick him off of first base but his throw was errant and as the ball went down the line into the Hawks' bullpen, allowing Almadova to advance to third. First baseman Daniel Palka drove in the only run of the game with a long double off the center field wall that scored Almadova.
Pitching dominated the rest of the game for both teams as neither team could produce much offense. Furney completely shut down the Hot Rods as he threw seven shutout innings and allowed just two baserunners on singles in the second and sixth innings but neither man advanced past second. Furney struck out five Hot Rods, completing his seven innings in an efficient 80 pitches.
The Hot Rods pitching staff matched the Hawks by keeping the score at 1-0 until the bottom of the eighth inning.
Marquez allowed just the one run over four innings of work while Colton Reavis struck out five in three shutout innings of work. Stone Speer entered the game in the bottom of the eighth inning in relief of Reavis and surrendered two unearned runs in the inning. Shortstop Andrew Velazquez led off the bottom of the eighth by beating out a bunt single.
With Velazquez running on a 3-2 pitch, Almadova hit a hot shot at the third baseman who was unable to handle it as the ball went into left field. The error by Ty Young put runners at the corners with no outs.
Palka then lifted a fly ball to left that scored Velazquez for a 2-0 Hawks lead. After a strikeout for the second out of the inning, Almadova stole second and right fielder Stryker Trahan was hit with a pitch. With first and second and two outs, Westbrook hit a chopper to the left side that was booted by Young again at third, scoring Almadova from third for a 3-0 lead.
The Hawks head out for a six-game road trip beginning Wednesday after an off day on Tuesday. They take on the Lansing Lugnuts and the West Michigan Whitecaps on the trip. The Silver Hawks return home on Tuesday, June 10 for a six-game homestand.
(South Bend Silver Hawks Marketing Director Kelly Knutson contributed to this story)