Thompson was impressive in his rehab start (Ray Acevedo - USA Today Sports)
Thompson was impressive in his rehab start (Ray Acevedo - USA Today Sports)

Cubs Minor League News: Keegan Thompson's rehab start, SB advances to championship, more


by - Senior Writer -

Friday was a very exciting night on the diamond for the Cubs and their system as three teams were in action. For starters, you saw the South Bend Cubs come away with another win as they will be moving on to the Midwest League Championship series. The other two games gave the fans plenty of drama and excitement as the Cubs went 2-1.

IOWA CUBS 7 - MEMPHIS REDBIRDS 6

Like the Chicago Cubs, who are not playoff bound, the 2022 season has been a struggle for the Iowa Cubs. However, you would never have guessed it based on their play the final month of the season as they picked up their third straight win over the Redbirds.

All eyes were on Keegan Thompson, who made a rehab start in hopes of returning to Chicago. Although he went just 2 1/3 and allowed one run, he struck out four and looked just as good as he was pre-injury. The run he allowed came off a wild pitch in the first inning, but it didn't take long for Iowa to respond.

One of the hottest hitters in the Iowa lineup has been John Hicks, and after his RBI double-tied things up, he continues to play well. Brennen Davis gave the Cubs the lead with an RBI groundout before an Alexander Canario double and Esteban Quiroz single capped off a four-run first with Iowa leading 4-1.

Juan Yepez did his best to keep things close, picking up a pair of RBIs in his next two at-bats, but the Jackson Frazier homer in the fourth kept the Cubs in front 5 3. Not only did Quiroz extend the lead with a homer in the sixth, but his RBI single in the seventh proved to be the winning run as the Cubs held a 7-4 lead.

Memphis continued to rally in the eighth, with Yepez and Luken Baker picking up RBI singles to make things 7-6. Down to their final three outs in the ninth, the Redbirds went down in order as Dakota Mekkes made quick work for his third save. Quiroz led the way on offense with three hits and three RBIs, while Kelvin Castro earned the win in relief.

CHATTANOOGA LOOKOUTS 13 - TENNESSEE SMOKIES 12 (F/13)

Of all the games on Friday, this one was probably the most exciting as a ton of offense, and some extra innings gave fans plenty to cheer about. Early on, it was all Tennessee as Ben Brown continued to pitch well, allowing two runs, one earned in four innings of work. He walked two and struck out eight, and you have to wonder if he will get the ball in game one of the playoffs.

Outside of Brown, the bullpen struggled, especially Peyton Remy, who was touched up for five runs, and Blake Whitney, who allowed four. A scoreless game entering the third, Nelson Maldonado put the Smokies in front with an RBI double, only to see the Lookouts tie things up in the bottom of the third. Delvin Zinn would put the Smokies back in front with a single in the fourth before a Yonathan Perlaza bases-loaded walk made things 3-1.

Over the next two innings, the Lookouts continued to battle back and tied things up in the fifth on the Christian Encarnacion homer. The Smokies continued their back-and-forth exchange with Luis Vazquez connecting for an RBI double in the seventh to make things 4-3 before Chattanooga used a four-run seventh to seize control 7-4.

At this point in the game, Jake Slaughter took over as he picked up an RBI single in the eighth to pull within 7-5 before launching a game-tying homer in the ninth to send the game into extras, tied 8-8. Both teams picked up a run in the 10th, but it was in the 12th when the Smokies looked to take the game over.

With one swing, Maldonado put the Smokies up 12-9 as his three-run shot looked like the game-winner. That was until the bottom half of the inning when the Lookouts took all that momentum back. Matt McClain picked up an RBI double to make things 12-11 before Rece Hinds tied things up again with a single. One inning later, it was Encarnacion coming through as he walked off the Smokies with an RBI single to give the Lookouts a hard-fought 13-12 win.

SOUTH BEND CUBS 9 - CEDAR RAPIDS KERNELS 3

For the second time in three seasons, the South Bend Cubs will play for the Midwest League title after winning it all in 2019. Led by plenty of early offense that made things easier for Daniel Palencia, the Cubs jumped in front big and cruised from there.

Palencia was about as good as you can get as the flame-throwing right-hander tossed five shutout innings. He allowed just two hits while striking out eight as he made the Kernels look silly. South Bend wasted no time grabbing the lead, using a four-run first to take the lead for good.

Owen Caissie opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly, while the Luis Verdugo double made things 3-0. BJ Murray JR capped off that massive first inning with an RBI single as the Cubs were comfortably in front 4-0. Not only did they add to that lead with an error in the second, but Caissie picked up a second sacrifice fly in the fourth and then an RBI single in the sixth to put the Cubs up 7-0.

It took seven innings for the Kernels to get on the board, but they used a three-run inning off of Riley Martin to make things more interesting. Willie Joe Garry ended the shutout bid with a sacrifice fly, while Mikey Perez connected for the two-run single. That would be it in terms of the Kernels offense as Caissie capped off a four-RBI night with a double in the eighth before coming home on the Murray Jr single to make things 9-3.

With the win, the Cubs advance to the Midwest League championship series, where they will face the Lake County Captains. Game one is set to begin on Sunday, with games two and potentially three ready for Tuesday and Wednesday.

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