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Cubs Minor League News: Kilian impressive, Strumpf raking, Murray with walk-off hit, more
Jayne Kamin Oncea - USA Today Sports

Cubs Minor League News: Kilian impressive, Strumpf raking, Murray with walk-off hit, more


by - Senior Writer -

Now that Myrtle Beach has seen its season end, the Cubs Minor League System is down to two teams, with AA Tennessee and AAA Iowa. That shouldn't take away from the action that we will see, as the Cubs still have plenty of talent remaining in the minors.

Saturday was a classic case of that as the Cubs posted a 2-0 mark, with one of those wins coming in extra innings. Given how much some of these teams have struggled lately, any additional wins from here on out are a good thing, as it will help lead to confidence heading into 2024.

IOWA CUBS 7 - SAINT PAUL SAINTS 5

Baseball is a fun game, but it can be frustrating also. After playing subpar baseball for the better part of a month, the Cubs have come out swinging this week against the Saints and have played spoiler in a big way. Had they been able to play like this throughout the second half, you could be having the playoff conversation, but here we are.

Caleb Kilian has had his ups and downs this season, but Saturday was one of those days where he was up. The right-hander gave the Cubs six innings of work, allowing two runs and striking out four as this was his final start at home this season. To make life easier for Kilian, the Cubs came out swinging against Patrick Murphy as the Cubs scored six times in the first three innings to break things open.

Three of those runs came in the first inning, with Matt Mervis playing a role in that with an RBI double to put the Cubs in front for good, 1-0. The big play in the inning came with Luis Vazquez at the plate as a costly error from the Saints defense led to two runs scoring, with the Cubs now leading 3-0. The next inning was Chase Strumpf adding to the lead as his solo shot made things 4-0.

With a comfortable lead in hand, the Cubs continued to go to work in the third inning as a Brennen Davis single pushed the lead to 5-0 while the Cole Roederer sacrifice fly made things 6-0. The Cubs were able to maintain that lead until the sixth inning when the Saints finally got to Kilian.

Anchored by an error that brought home the first run, the Trevor Larnach single pulled the Saints within 6-2. Immediately following the two runs from Saint Paul, it was Jared Young added to the Cub's lead as his RBI single was the game's final run for the Cubs, with them leading 7-2.

Still holding that lead in the eighth, the Saints did their best to make things interesting as the RBI double from Michael Helman was part of a three-run inning that pulled the Saints within 7-5. That would be as close as things would get as the Iowa bullpen finished them off.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 9 - ROCKET CITY TRASH PANDAS 8 (F/11)

Talk about a fun game in Tennessee. After the Smokies fell behind by seven runs early, the offense led the Smokies back with a seven-run run third, which helped the tone for the rest of the way. If that drama wasn't good enough, why not have BJ Murray Jr. provide even more fireworks as his RBI single in the 11th walked off the Trash Pandas 9-8?

Kohl Franklin had an interesting start, which is par for the course. Franklin may have given up six runs but also struck out seven through four innings with no walks. He has had many of those starts in the past two years, which is very frustrating. Rocket City used the long ball to get after Franklin early, with David Calabrese going deep in the third to make things 2-0, while Tucker Flint grabbed a solo shot in the fourth to extend the lead to 3-0.

The fourth inning is when the Trash Pandas did the most damage offensively as they scored four times in total to push the lead to 6-0. Gave Matthews had an RBI single after that homer, with D'Shawn Knowles adding a two-run triple. Rocket City added another run in the top half of the fifth, but the Tennessee offense made their presence felt in the bottom of the inning.

With the bases loaded, Christian Franklin came through with his biggest hit in AA as an RBI triple cut the lead to 7-3. Franklin would come home on the BJ Murray Jr. single, with Kevin Alcantara adding a sacrifice fly to pull within 7-5. Still in the fifth, the Smokies continued their comeback bid as the Pablo Aliendo double made things 7-6 while a James Triantos single tied things up.

Those would be the final runs of regulation for either side, as nine innings would not be enough in this one. Looking to strike first, the Trash Pandas re-took the lead in the 10th on a Flint groundout while an Andy Weber sacrifice fly in the bottom half tied things back up 8-8.

That set the tone for the Smokies offense in the bottom of the 11th as they loaded the bases only to see Murray Jr. deliver the game-winning single for the walk-off 9-8 win.

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