Kilian was impressive in his latest outing (Photo via I-Cubs)
Kilian was impressive in his latest outing (Photo via I-Cubs)

Cubs Minor League News: Kilian impressive, Mervis hits No. 30, Alcantara smacks grand slam


by - Senior Writer -

Although only four teams are in action for the rest of the summer, Saturday was a hectic day on the diamond for the Cubs and their system. With four regularly scheduled games plus two other makeup games, the Cubs had six games going on to give fans plenty to talk about heading into the stretch run of the minor league season.

That went from six games down to five games as mother nature got in the way of one of the games in AA, forcing the league to cancel a makeup game as they don't have enough time left. Still, the organization closed out the week with a 3-2 mark as two of their teams enter the season's final week before the playoffs while another team has two weeks left to punch their spot.

IOWA CUBS 5 - COLUMBUS CLIPPERS 3

Sparked by a massive three-run seventh inning, the Cubs were able to take game one from Columbus to help inch closer to a series split or win. Caleb Kilian was looking to bounce back after a horrendous start, and the right-hander answered the call.

Kilian went five innings and allowed one unearned run on just five hits. He did walk three and struck out three, as the command has been an issue for him the second half of the season. He gave way to Jonathan Holder and Kelvin Castro, who struggled a bit, but Ben Leeper managed to get the save after the offense came to life late.

The lone run off of Kilian came in the first inning as an error extended the inning. The result was Columbus pushing home a run on the Gabriel Arias single to put the Cubs down 1-0. Iowa managed to tie things up in the third inning when Matt Mervis launched his ninth homer with Iowa and 30th on the season as he had one of his best series of the season.

With the game still tied in the fifth, Darius Hill cashed in with an RBI single to put the Cubs in front 2-1, as he also helped set Kilian up for the win. That was until the sixth inning when the Clippers started to rally off both Holder and Castro to tie things up on the George Valera double and then retook the lead on the Oscar Mercado sacrifice fly 3-2 with one inning to go.

Down to their final outs, Iowa picked a great time to rally as they took it to the Clippers in the seventh. As expected, Mervis was in the middle of the action again as his RBI single tied things up 3-3. Later in the inning, it was time for Jackson Frazier to come through as he laced a two-run single to left for the winning hit that gave Iowa a 5-3 win.

COLUMBUS CLIPPERS 1 - IOWA CUBS 0 (Make up game)

Looking to notch a doubleheader sweep, the Cubs were deadlocked in a game two pitchers duel won by Columbus. Wyatt Short continues to impress since moving to the rotation as he delivered a four-inning start and allowed just one run.

Granted, that is a great outing, but that one run proved too much as a trio of Clippers pitchers combined for the shutout and struck out 10 in the process. The game's lone run came in the first inning when Brayan Rocchio connected for yet another home run in this series, as that would be all the Clippers would need to take the win. Brennen Davis was one of five Cubs to register a hit in the loss.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 5 - MISSISSIPPI BRAVES 2

Despite their struggles for the better part of two weeks, the Smokies have started to play better baseball and have gone 6-4 over their last 10. In return, they have opened up a 5.5-game lead with 12 games left over Birmingham, and their magic number to clinch the second-half Southern League playoff spot is down to four.

With Ben Brown back on the hill Sunday, the righty continued to impress as he has proven to be a steal of an acquisition in the David Robertson deal. Across his five innings, Brown was good, allowing one run on four hits while striking out six as the rain forced this game to end early with the Smokies taking the win.

When you are a pitcher, it always helps to be given plenty of early support, and Miguel Amaya gave him that support in the first inning. With a pair of runners on base, Amaya connected for not only his second homer, but what would be the game-winning hit as Tennessee raced out to the 3-0 lead.

The Braves answered in the bottom of the first with a Jalen Miller double to pull within 3-1, but that was the only run they would manage off of Brown as he continues to pitch well. Still holding that two-run lead in the fifth, the Smokies put things away with Yonathan Perlaza picking up an RBI single ahead of the Bryce Ball sacrifice fly to make things 5-1.

Mississippi managed to grab a late-game run to pull within 5-2, but once the rain started, the game was called early, with Tennessee taking the win. Jake Slaughter and Nelson Maldonado led the way with a pair of hits, while Amaya delivered three RBIs.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES at MISSISSIPPI BRAVES (Game 2 canceled)

Not only did the weather force game one to be completed early, but it did not allow game two to be played as this game was canceled and will not be made up.

LANSING LUGNUTS 2 - SOUTH BEND CUBS 1

Although they clinched a playoff spot on Saturday, they did so in a losing fashion and didn't want to celebrate like that. However, the ending to the week got even worse as the Lugnuts picked up the rare no-hitter against South Bend, but still lost the series.

This is one of those games where you have to feel for Joe Nahas and the rest of the staff as they pitched well enough to win and would have on most nights. Nahas went four innings and allowed one run with five strikeouts, while the combo of Adam Laskey, Michael McAvene, Sheldon Reed, and Jake Reindl went five innings and allowed one additional run.

Unfortunately for Nahas, the run he allowed came in the first inning off a Lawrence Butler homer to put the Lugnuts in front, and they didn't look back. The combination of Jorge Juan, Jack Owen, and Shohei Tomioka kept the Cubs hitless through seven innings while maintaining that 1-0 lead.

Lansing picked up a massive insurance run off the Max Muncy double in the eighth to go up 2-0, but South Bend started to make a little noise off Osvaldo Berrios in the bottom half of the eighth. With Jordan Nwogu standing on first after a force-out, he quickly advanced to second with his 17th steal setting the Cubs offense up.

That steal would prove beneficial as Berrios uncorked an error on a pickoff attempt that allowed Nwogu to score and made things 2-1. Berrios would not only get out of that inning, but then retired the Cubs in order in the ninth to secure the save and helped anchor the rare-no hitter where a run scores.

MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 9 - CHARLESTON RIVERDOGS 6

Led by six runs in the final two frames, including a five-run eighth, the Pelicans managed to come from behind to beat Charleston and earned a series split from the first-place Riverdogs. This was a much-needed split as the second half hasn't been kind to this ballclub, and hopefully, it helps them get back to playing with confidence in the postseason.

Chase Watkins made the start in what was a bullpen game and pitched very well. Across his three innings, he allowed two runs on six hits, but did strikeout three. He was one of five pitchers the Pelicans trotted out there as they wanted to get through the week and set up their rotation come the postseason.

Both offenses came to play early, with Moises Ballesteros putting the Pelicans in front 1-0 with a first-inning RBI single before a wild pitch made things 2-0. Charleston managed to get one of those runs back on the Willy Vasquez single in the bottom of the first, but Liam Spence kept things a two-run game early using an RBI groundout in the second to extend the early lead 3-1.

That would be all the offense for Myrtle Beach for quite some time as the Riverdogs began to tee off on the Pelicans pitchers. After pulling within 3-2 on the second-inning single from Oneill Manzueta, the Riverdogs tied things up in the fifth on the Ryan Spikes RBI single.

One inning later saw them take the lead with a bases-loaded walk putting them up 4-3, while the Brock Jones sacrifice fly made things 5-3. The Riverdogs added another run in the seventh to stretch the lead to 6-3, but the Pelicans put the game away in the top of the eighth with a massive five-run inning.

Reggie Preciado started that inning with a bases-loaded hit by a pitch to end the scoring drought, but also kept the pressure on the Charleston defense. Sometimes the pressure is too much, and Kevin Alcantara picked a great time to break out of his homerless drought as his grand slam was the winning hit with Myrtle Beach suddenly in front 8-6.

Felix Stevens added to that lead with an RBI double in the ninth inning to push that lead to 9-6 and helped secure the massive win for the birds.

Alcantara, Stevens, and James Triantos had multiple hit days for the Pelicans, with Alcantara pacing the offense with four RBIs. Triantos reached base all five times as he recorded three walks with his two hits.

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