The win avenged a May 11 loss to the Cubs, which is the only Pirate setback in 13-60 League play this season.
In the rematch Wednesday night, the Pirates were the first team to light up the scoreboard. In the bottom of the second inning, left hander Aaron Wendt blasted a knuckle ball over the center-field wall. The ball was hit so far the search party looking for it beyond the fence at the fairgrounds could not track it down.
Justin Schaible followed Wendt’s home run with a two-run homer of his own to left field. Schaible drove in Jon Traetow who reached after being hit by a pitch.
In the fourth inning, the Pirates extended their lead to 4-0 when Wendt singled to kick-start the offense. Garrett Anderson put runners on second and third when the first baseman connected on a double. With two runners in scoring position, Schaible singled to drive in Wendt for his third RBI of the game.
Leading off the fifth inning, Sukalski jumped on the first pitch of his at-bat, driving a home run over the left-field fence to push the Pirate lead to 5-0.
The Kato Cubs offense was silenced until the fifth inning by Blue Earth’s starting pitcher Aaron Wendt.
With lefties riddling the Cub line-up, the Pirates made a traditional move defensively and another move not so conventional. The Pirates threw the left-handed Wendt and paired him with left-handed catcher Jon Traetow as his battery mate.
The move paid off as together the tandem had the predominantly left-handed Cub batting order guessing the entire night.
Wendt was working quickly from the mound seeing a lot of success when he kept the ball low in the strike zone. The lefty was able to use location, velocity and a hard breaking ball to strike out 13 Cub batters in a complete game performance. Three of Wendt’s 13 strikeouts caught the Cubs looking at strike three crossing the plate.
Wendt’s only hiccups in the game occurred in the late innings when the Cubs were able to score two runs each in the seventh and eighth frames.
In the seventh inning, back-to-back doubles created the damage with the Cubs’ J.J. Clatisse and Dave Gullisen scoring both runs, closing the Pirate lead to 5-2.
Blue Earth didn’t allow Mankato to get any closer when in the bottom half of the inning the Pirates plated two runners extending the lead to 7-2.
Sukalski sparked the offensive production by working a walk on four straight pitches.
He quickly advanced to second base when the leadoff hitter displayed his speed and swiped the base putting him in scoring position.
After the steal, Bobby Olson fought off an inside pitch to bloop the ball to right field and score Sukalski.
To round out the Pirates scoring in the seventh, Josh Amundson drove in Olson on a sacrifice fly to mid-center.
The Cubs answered with two runs of their own in the eighth. With one run already across the plate in the inning, Blue Earth’s Traetow attempted to throw out a runner stealing second base. Traetow’s throw went wild into center field, allowing the second Cub of the inning to score and closing the Pirate lead to three runs.
Wendt wouldn’t allow the Cubs to get any closer as the power pitcher had opposing hitters swinging late on his fastball, recording strike outs in three of the game’s last four outs.
With the win, the Pirates have now won six games in a row.