Hicks had a homer in the loss (Photo via Cubs)
Hicks had a homer in the loss (Photo via Cubs)

Cubs Minor League News: Hicks homers, Hodge impressive, Alcantara raking, more


by - Senior Writer -

For the second night in a row, wins were hard to come by as the Cubs finished 1-3 in Minor League action. As expected, Myrtle Beach came away with that win, and it seems like they are starting to turn the corner again in terms of winning more ball games.

The rest of the full season teams had their chances with two games going down to the wire where the Cubs could have finished 3-1. Considering what fans have seen in the last few weeks and with the five-day impending trade deadline, things could be very interesting within the Cubs organization.

SAINT PAUL SAINTS 5 - IOWA CUBS 4

The Cubs struggles against the Saints the last two seasons are well documented, and that has continued this season at Saint Paul. Leading 4-3 in the late stages of the game, the Saints not only rallied to tie things up in the eighth, but then walked the Cubs off in the ninth.

Sean Newcomb made a rare start, and although he went just four innings looked good. The left-hander allowed just one run on three hits as he finished with eight strikeouts. Making his return to Iowa was Matt Swarmer, who was not great in his first outing back.

Thankfully, the Cubs gave the pitching plenty of support as all four of their runs came within the first three innings. Not only did Narcisco Crook put the Cubs up 1-0 in the first with an RBI triple, but John Hicks doubled that lead in the second with a homer.

A Brandon Bishop single pulled the Saints within 2-1 in the bottom half of the second, but the Cubs offense was again ready to roll in the third. Crook continued to do his thing with an RBI double before coming home on the Matt Mervis RBI double to make things 4-1. Mervis has 87 RBIs on the season to lead all minor league baseball.

Looking to battle back with Swarmer on the mound, Jose Godoy connected for a solo shot in the fifth ahead of the Bishop groundout in the sixth to make things 4-3. Still trailing by that score in the eighth, Saint Paul tied things up with Jermaine Palacios going deep. The Saints kept the pressure on in the ninth and managed to walk the Cubs off on the Tim Beckham single.

Crook continued to mash the baseball as he joined Mervis, Nick Madrigal, and Nelson Maldonado with two-hit games. Andrelton Simmons also made a rehab appearance going hitless with a walk.

BIRMINGHAM BARONS 7 - TENNESSEE SMOKIES 1

In a battle for first place, at least in terms of the second half, it was the Barons who came out on top 7-1 to pull even with the Smokies for the top spot. Chris Clarke twirled despite lasting just five innings. Clarke allowed one run on three hits and struck out four.

He gave way to Ben Hecht, who made his season debut with the Smokies only to allow four runs in less than an inning. The game's lone run for Tennessee came in the fourth inning when Miguel Amaya picked up an RBI groundout for the 1-0 lead.

After Ian Dawkins tied things up with a single in the fifth, the Barons busted the game wide open in the sixth, using four runs to take a 5-1 lead. Yoelqui Cespedes and JJ Muno each had two-run doubles in that inning as Hecht struggled to get things done. Birmingham capped off the scoring in the ninth with Craig Dedelow picking up a sacrifice fly ahead of the Alex Destino triple to cap off the 7-1 win.

LAKE COUNTY CAPTAINS 4 - SOUTH BEND CUBS 2 (F/10)

Things are starting to tighten up in the Midwest League as the Cubs lead is down to three games. A big reason for that is two straight losses to the Captains, including a 4-2 extra-inning loss on Thursday.

Porter Hodge couldn't have asked for a much better start as the right-hander allowed one run in five innings. To go with that, he added a career-high 10 punchouts to lower his ERA to 0.93. While Hodge was brilliant, Lake County had strong pitching of their own as South Bend struggled to get runs.

Backing Hodge with some early offense was Owen Caissie as he picked up another first-inning RBI single for the 1-0 lead. South Bend took that lead into the fifth when Joe Naranjo delivered an RBI single to tie things up as Hodge was done after that inning. Lake County would then take the lead in the sixth off the Johnathan Rodriguez homer to make things 2-1.

Down to the final two innings, the Cubs came roaring back with Luis Verdugo playing long ball as his fourth homer brought things back to even and had things headed to extra innings.

However, it was in the extra frame when Lake County put the Cubs away as Alexfri Planez, and Rodriguez picked up RBI singles to give the Captains a 4-2 win.

Jonathan Sierra led the offense with two hits as the Cubs came away with eight hits in the loss.

MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 8 - AUGUSTA GREENJACKETS 4

Say what you want about the Pelicans and their play in the second half, but this team still has a great shot to complete the season sweep of division titles. Sparked by a five-run ninth inning, the Pelicans came back to win their second straight 8-4.

At some point, you would like to see the 2020 fourth-round pick Luke Little stretched beyond three or four innings. Until then, the Pelicans will enjoy what they can as he gave them 3 2/3 scoreless frames with six strikeouts. His ERA is now 2.49 for the season.

Not only was Little Strong, but when the offense backs you with two runs of support for an early 2-0 lead, it makes your dominance that much better. Ethan Hearn gave Myrtle Beach the lead in the second off an RBI double before the Alejandro Rivero sacrifice fly made things 2-0.

That score would hold until the sixth inning, when Augusta finally started to get something going off the Myrtle Beach pen. Geraldo Quintero got them on the board with an RBI ground out before the Francisco Floyd homer made things 2-2. Kevin Alcantara put the Pelicans back in front with an RBI single in the top of the seventh, but the Greenjackets had the answer once again.

Looking to, at the very worst, extend this game beyond nine innings, Victor De Hoyos did his part as the homer tied things up 3-3. Augusta would later grab a 4-3 on a bases-loaded hit by a pitch as Myrtle Beach was coming to bat on last time and down by a run.

Thankfully for the Pelicans, their offense had plenty of momentum up their sleeves as two-run doubles from Ezequiel Pagan, and Alcantara gave the Pelicans the lead for good before a wild pitch capped off the scoring in an 8-4 win.

Alcantara, Rivero, and Pagan had two hits, with Alcantara leading the way with three RBIs.

Rookie League

In Rookie league action, the ACL Cubs benefitted from late-game offense as their three-run sixth inning gave them a 4-3 win over the Brewers. Trailing 3-1 entering that inning, singles by Cristian More and Miguel Fabrizio brought things back to even 3-3. Shortly after, it was Liam Spence cashing in with the game-winning RBI triple to give the Cubs a huge win.

A little further south and east in the Dominican Republic, the DSL Red and Blue squads split their two games, with DSL Red topping the Yankees 3-1. Like in Arizona, it was late-game offense that did the Cubs a service as all three runs came after the seventh, with Carlos Altuve and Alexis Hernandez picking up RBI hits.

DSL Blue had a much tougher time as they were doubled up by the Rockies 8-4. Most of that damage came from a pair of three-run innings, as the Cubs were in a massive hole from the start. Trailing 7-0 in the fifth, all four Cubs runs came in one inning, with Albert Belliard, Jefferson Rojas, and Raul Guzman having RBI hits before falling 8-4.

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