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Cubs Minor League News: Strumpf homers, Hill raking, Brown rocked, Devers impressive, more

Cubs Minor League News: Strumpf homers, Hill raking, Brown rocked, Devers impressive, more


by - Senior Writer -

Another week of Minor League baseball ended as the full-season teams will now get two days off before the second half of their season begins. With Myrtle Beach clinching a playoff spot more than a week ago, they are the only team to officially be in the postseason after Tennessee was eliminated on Saturday.

Iowa is still alive, but after getting blown out on Sunday, that division has yet to be decided, although they hold a .5 game lead over St. Paul. Losses were the theme of the entire day for the Cubs organization as the minor league system posted an 0-3 record to end the week, and most of those games were not pretty.

MEMPHIS REDBIRDS 16 - IOWA CUBS 6

Win, and you are in. That was the mindset for the Cubs on Sunday, and they couldn't have asked for a better pitcher to take the mound as Ben Brown got the start. Instead, Brown endured his worst start of the season at the worst time, as he didn't even make it out of the first inning after allowing six earned runs.

Anytime you are in a six-run hole after one inning of play, things will be challenging, and the Cubs had their work cut out for them from start to finish. The command was the biggest problem for Brown in this one, as a bases-loaded hit by a pitch and two walks led to the game's first three runs. Then came the bases-clearing triple from Errol Robinson to push the lead to 6-0 as Brown was removed in favor of Jordan Holloway.

The Cubs managed to get one of those runs back in their half of the first on the Jared Young RBI groundout, but it was the Redbirds who continued their offensive assault and scored five more times in the next two innings.

Four runs came in the second off a two-run Taylor Motter homer and the two-run Chase Pinder double to make things 10-1. Luke Baker would then add homer No. 20 in the third to open up an 11-1 lead, with Darius Hill picking up an RBI single in the bottom of the third.

Trailing 12-2 in the fifth, the Cubs' offense showed some life and started to make a little bit of a game out of it. Young started the inning with an RBI single to make things 12-3, but the Chase Strumpf three-run shot had the Cubs within 12-6 and thinking possible comeback again.

That wouldn't be in the cards in this one as Memphis ended the game with four more runs on three RBI singles in the sixth to salvage the series finale 16-6.

Hill has been on a tear in recent weeks and led the way with three hits. Strumpf picked up his sixth homer with Iowa to lead the team with three RBIs, while Young added two more to his total.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES vs. PENSACOLA BLUE WAHOOS (canceled)

With the first half already decided and Chattanooga being crowned champions, mother nature got in the way on Sunday, and this game will not be made up.

FORT WAYNE TIN CAPS 10 - SOUTH BEND CUBS 2 (F/10)

Talk about a heartbreaking loss for the Cubs. With a chance to split the series on Sunday, nine innings weren't enough as the Tin Caps and Cubs played to a 1-1 tie and needed extra innings to decide things. That was when the Fort Wayne offense came to life as they scored nine times in that half of an inning to bust the game open.

One of the positives from this game was seeing Luis Devers look like his 2022 self and deliver his best start of the season. Devers gave the Cubs four shutout innings with three strikeouts and was as good as he has been in some time. Devers gave way to Didier Vargas, Adam Laskey, and Frank Scalzo Jr, who were all very solid until the 10th.

Opposing Devers was Jairo Iriarte, who was dominant on the hill. Across his six innings of work, Iriarte allowed one run on three hits, but he struck out 10 Cubs without walking a batter. His ERA fell to 2.95 in the process as he is emerging as a legitimate arm. The lone run off of Iriarte came in the second inning when Luis Verdugo came through with an RBI single to make things 1-0.

That would be all the offense for the Cubs for quite some time, but that score held until the seventh when Joshua Mears went deep to tie things up. Still tied 1-1 following the ninth, it was time for free baseball for the fans in South Bend, which turned into a nightmare scenario. After the Carlos Luis single gave Fort Wayne a 2-1 lead, three straight bases-loaded walks made things 5-1 and had the momentum entirely on their side.

Then came Mears to the plate, who homered for the second time as his grand slam was the backbreaker and opened up a 9-1 lead. Nathan Martorella added another homer shortly after to push the lead to 10-1, as the Cubs had a ton of work to do. Ethan Hearn did his part by picking up an RBI single, but that was it for the Cubs and their offense as they fell again 10-2. With five hits, the offense was tough to come by as Bryce Ball led the way with two.

KANNAPOLIS CANNON BALLERS 11 - MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 10

The day's most entertaining game came from Myrtle Beach, but it wasn't all that way. After Brody McCullough was knocked around to allow a season-high five runs in three innings, the Cannonballers hammered the Pelicans pen to build an 11-1 lead. Then came the last three innings, where the Pelicans scored nine times and nearly completed an improbable comeback.

Seeing McCullough struggle is not the norm, but after Tim Elko made things 3-0 with his first-inning homer, you could see he didn't have his best stuff. That lead only grew in the third, with Colby Smelley picking up an RBI single to chase McCullough with the score 5-0. Juan Mora ended the shutout bid with his RBI double in the fourth, but the Pelicans offense went quiet again while their pitching couldn't get anyone out.

A Mario Camilletti single in the fourth pushed the Cannonballers' lead to 7-1 before they added four more runs in the fifth to open up an 11-1 lead. The Pelicans could have packed it in right there, but these are the first-half champions, and they would not go down without a fight. The Pelicans began their comeback effort in the seventh as a five-run inning seemed to jumpstart their offense.

RBI singles from Reivaj Garcia, Ismael Mena, and Mora brought home four of those runs, with an error pushing across the fifth.

One inning later, Cristian Hernandez made things 11-7 using an RBI groundout to bring home another run. Trailing by four and down to their last three outs, the Pelicans continued to rally, making things very interesting late.

Not only did Andy Gariola lead things off with a hit-by-pitch, but one-out walks from Parker Chavers, and Rafael Morel had the bases loaded and a golden opportunity. Down to their final out, the Cannonballers helped the Pelicans out as a wild pitch led to another run before the Garcia single pulled them within 11-10.

That was as close as they would get with Mena grounding out to end what would be a dramatic comeback win. Mora led the offense with three hits and three RBIs, with Garcia also driving in three.

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