Cubs Minor League News: Mervis mashing, Davis raking, Stevens sizzling, Norland impressive
Photo courtesy: Iowa Cubs

Cubs Minor League News: Mervis mashing, Davis raking, Stevens sizzling, Norland impressive

by - Senior Writer -

In what could go down as one of the busier weeks of Minor League action this season, the Cubs system ended its week by limping to the finish line 1-3. However, two extra-inning affairs and another game were decided by pitching, as that was one of the things that stood out the past few days.


This was a great offensive week for the Cubs, but it wasn't too kind to them from a pitching side. Despite Chris Clarke going six innings and allowing five runs, the Cubs held a 6-5 lead late as their offense stepped up in a big way. That was until the four-eighth inning by the Clippers turned the tables and proved to be the difference in the 9-6 Columbus win.

Clarke found himself trailing immediately in this one as the George Valera double put the Clippers in front 2-0 after one. That score would hold until the fifth inning when Juan Brito took Clarke deep to extend the lead to 5-0. At that moment, the Cubs decided to play home run derby as Brennen Davis put Iowa on the board with a solo shot in the fifth before Matt Mervis and Curt Casali added solo shots in the sixth and seventh to pull within 5-3.

In the seventh inning, Iowa did most of its damage, as the Cubs scored four times to take a 6-5 lead. BJ Murray Jr. added an RBI double and a Jake Slaughter sacrifice fly, but the Mervis single gave the Cubs a 6-5 lead.

Looking to close things out in the eighth was the combination of Porter Hodge and Edwin Escobar, but neither of them got the job done as the Johnathan Rodriguez single-tied things up before Jose Tena connected for the game-winning three-run shot.


It's hard to believe this game needed extra innings to decide a winner, but that was the case. After pitching dominated the first nine innings, during which four runs were scored, the Smokies' offense broke out in the 10th and scored six runs to win.

Connor Noland continues to put solid starts together on the mound as he allowed two runs in his five innings with five strikeouts. He gave way to five relievers, including Eduarniel Nunez, who added two more scoreless innings to keep his ERA at 0.00. While Noland was good, Julien Aguiar was slightly better as he allowed just one run in five innings with four strikeouts.

It took four innings for either team to break through, with Moises Ballesteros connecting for a solo shot to put the Smokies in front 1-0. Chattanooga immediately answered with a two-run double from Nicholas Northcut as they took a 2-1 lead. Still trailing by that score entering the ninth, the Smokies had a chance to win the game as Matt Shaw worked a bases-loaded walk to tie things up, only to have the offense stall in the end.

Leave it to the 10th for the Smokies offense to come to life as they scored six times in the extra frame to break the game wide open. Christian Franklin doubled home the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run before coming home on the Haydn McGeary single. Another bases-loaded walk from Shaw made things 5-2, while a costly error brought home two more runs to make things 7-2. James Triantos closed out the scoring with a sacrifice fly as the Smokies took care of business 8-2.


If there is one positive to take away from the Cubs early season struggles, you can at least say they battle until the end and get great pitching. That was the case again in this one as the teams played to a 1-1 tie in regulation before needing a 10th inning to decide things. Unfortunately, the Kernels offense stood tall in the end as they struck for three runs in the 10th to pick up the 4-2 win.

Tyler Schlaffer has been going through an up-and-down season, but after allowing just one run in 4 2/3, this was arguably his best start of the season. Schlaffer gave way to Sam Armstrong and his 4 1/3 scoreless frames before Chase Watkins pitched the 10th. When you look back on this series, you could make the case that this was the Felix Stevens coming out party, and after homering in the second to put the Cubs in front 1-0.

A 1-0 lead held until the fifth, when Luke Keaschall delivered an RBI single to tie things up 1-1. That would be the only offense for the rest of the game, as extra innings would be needed. In the extra frame, the Kernels offense picked a bad time to come to life as Ricardo Oliver delivered the game-winning triple that put the Kernels up 3-1.

Cedar Rapids would add a third run courtesy of an error, as the Cubs offense had some work to do late. Pedro Ramirez did his part to try and pull the Cubs back as his RBI groundout made things 4-2 before the Cubs fell by that score.


Pitching was the name of the game in Myrtle Beach on Sunday, as the sides combined to score three runs. Unfortunately, the Pelicans were on the short end of the stick, dropping their series finale 2-1. A big reason for the Pelicans' struggles was Garrett Bauman's performance on the mound, as he struck out four in 6 2/3 impressive innings.

He was backed by a pair of sacrifice flies from Will Verdung and Jace Grady, as that was the only offense the Greenjackets would need. Myrtle Beach finally got on the board in the seventh with Leonel Espinoza connecting for an RBI double, but that would be their lone run in a 2-1 loss.



The Dogs couldn't have asked for a better start to their season as they closed out opening weekend with a 3-0 record. John Baker got the start for the Dogs, going five innings and allowing one earned run, as it would be up to the offense to deliver late.

With the game tied 5-5 entering the eighth inning, it was that man again. Former Cub Narcisco Crook connected for his third homer of the season, which proved to be the game-winning three-run shot in the Dogs' 8-5 win.

Crook was on fire, going 3-5 with five RBIs, and all three of those hits were homers in the winning effort.


While the Thunderbolts would've liked better results this weekend, they at least gave the fans plenty to cheer about even in this extra-inning loss. John Mikolaicyk got the start, and despite allowing five runs in 5 2/3 innings, he struck out nine as he had all his pitches working. His outing didn't matter much as Dan Beebe allowed four runs (2ER) in five innings in an offensive display.

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the first, the Thunderbolts drew even as a wild pitch brought home their first run. Windy City took the lead later in the first on a costly error before Ethan Lopez and Christian Kuzemka delivered RBI doubles in the third to stretch the lead to 4-1.

The Thunderbolts held that lead until the sixth, when Tri-County struck for four runs to take a 5-4 lead. Javeyan Williams and Ian Walters added the first two RBIs with a pair of singles, while the Kyle Novak double put the Valleycats back in front 5-4. Windy City responded one inning later with another Joe Johnson homer to bring things back to even, as these teams would need extra innings to decide this one.

Unfortunately for Windy City, Tri-County had the last laugh as Alec Olund and Oscar Campos connected for a pair of RBI knocks to give the Valleycats an 8-5 lead. They would go on to win by that score and move to 2-1 on the season.

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