Lake County Captains OF Will Benson swings during last year’s Midwest League Home Run Derby. He finished second in the contest. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)
There were several notable performances in the Midwest League on Thursday, with a four-homer game by Lake County Captains outfielder Will Benson chief among them.
Benson’s four roundtrippers (a grand slam, a two-run homer, and two solo shots) in Lake County’s 12-6 win over the South Bend Cubs tied a Midwest League record first set by Bobby Smith of the Clinton Pirates on June 13, 1959. The record was matched in the regular season by Michael Bishop of the Quad City Angels on June 24, 1978, and Garret Jones of the Quad City River Bandits on July 14, 2002, and in the postseason by Eric Battersby of the Burlington Bees on Sept. 13, 1999. As you can see by the dates, Benson’s four-homer performance was the earliest in the year the feat has been achieved in the MWL.
Before Thursday, the most recent four-homer performance in the minor leagues was by Mike Ford, who did it for the Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League) on May 25, 2014. Coincidentally, Ford made his major-league debut for the New York Yankees on Thursday. (He went o-for-3 with a walk.)
Benson struck out in his fifth and final at-bat of Thursday’s game. The last time a minor-leaguer homered five times in a game was July 3, 1948, when Muskegon Clippers outfielder Dick Lane did it against the Fort Wayne Generals in a Central League game. (In addition to Fort Wayne, the six-team Central League also had clubs based in Dayton and Grand Rapids; those three cities, of course, currently have Midwest League teams.) The all-time record is eight homers in a single game, achieved by Nig Clarke in a 1902 Texas League game.
Benson is batting .341 (15-for-44) with 6 HR and 16 RBI in 12 games with the Captains this season. The Cleveland Indians prospect also played for Lake County last year, batting .180 with 22 HR and 58 RBI in 123 games. He participated in last year’s Midwest League Home Run Derby, finishing second to Bowling Green Hot Rods catcher Ronaldo Hernandez.
Gold cycles for Lansing
Lugnuts catcher Ryan Gold hit for the cycle in Lansing’s 12-4 win over the Dayton Dragons. He hit a grand slam for the home run, and collected seven RBI.
You can read about Gold’s achievement here.
Gold is batting .250 (8-for-32) in 10 games this season. He also played for the Lugnuts last season, batting .264 in 56 games.
Soriano keeps QC hitless
Cougars starting pitcher Franklyn Soriano didn’t allow a hit during his five innings in Kane County’s 2-0 win over the Quad Cities River Bandits. He struck out four, walked one, and hit a batter.
Soriano got the win, improving to 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 14.2 innings/three starts for the Cougars this season.
River Bandits RHP R.J. Freure struck out nine, walked two, and gave up one hit in 3.2 innings of relief. He got a no-decision. He is 1-0 with a 0.87 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 10.1 innings this season.
Almost no-hit, but Bees win
The Chiefs took a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the Bees, but Burlington made the most of their late offense to beat Peoria 4-3.
Despite keeping Bees batters hitless for so long, Chiefs pitchers struggled with control early and late in the game, issuing 10 walks total. Chiefs SP Cole Aker walked five, including one with the bases loaded, and was removed after two-thirds of an inning. A bright spot for the Chiefs was reliever Freddy Pacheco, who struck out seven in three perfect innings.
Bees shortstop Livan Soto broke up the no-hitter with a double with one man on and no outs in the 8th. Third baseman Kevin Maitan drove in the winning run via a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 9th inning.