Down on Cubs Farm: Higgins impressive, Nico Hoerner hitless, Richan pitches well, more
Photo credit: Tennessee Smokies

Down on Cubs Farm: Higgins impressive, Nico Hoerner hitless, Richan pitches well, more

by - Senior Writer -

It was a hectic day on the farm as all five teams played a total of six games. Except for one game, the other five contests were very well played games as the Cubs performed well going 3-3 for the day.

IOWA 8 – Round Rock Express 10 (10 innings): Looking for a series victory against Round Rock, Matt Swarmer got the call hoping to continue a great run of pitching. In five innings, Swarmer gutted it out to allow 4ER on 8H in a no-decision effort. Iowa had the lead late, but the bullpen let things slip away to give the Express a walk-off 10-8 win in 10 innings.

The Express flexed their muscles in the first inning when Derek Fisher went deep for No. 10 on the season to put Round Rock up 3-0. Iowa responded with a three-run shot of their own in the second as Zack Short notched his first homer of the season and just like that it was a 3-3 game. Jack Mayfield gave the Express a 4-3 lead in the fifth with his 14th of the season before recently promoted P.J. Higgins tied things up 4-4 in the sixth with his first homer in AAA and sixth overall.

Round Rock continued with their offensive barrage in the seventh inning to retake the lead as Alex De Goti picked up a go-ahead single to make things a 6-4 game. Add in a Mayfield sacrifice fly in the eighth, and the Express were suddenly up 7-4 with Iowa down to their final at-bats. It was in that inning when the Cubs showed their fight once again as Mark Zagunis made things a 7-6 game with his single before Phillip Evans came through with a huge double to tie the game and send things to extras 7-7.

Higgins added to his nice game with a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th to put the Cubs in front once again as James Norwood was looking to lock down the save. After struggling to put hitters away in the bottom of the inning, Norwood left one to many hittable pitches in the zone as Joshua Rojas went deep for his seventh homer of the season to deliver the walk-off 10-8 Express win.

Iowa remains in control of their division sitting at 53-41 for the season. Both Evans and Jim Adduci were hot at the plate picking up three hits each as Adduci is now hitting .311 for the season. Short, Zagunis and Trent Giambrone added multi-hit games of their own as the Cubs connected for 14 hits on the day. Ian Happ was 1-3 with a pair of walks while Taylor Davis was held hitless. Xavier Cedeno was roughed up in his rehab appearance allowing 2ER in 2/3 of an inning.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 6 – Mobile Bay Bears 1: Looking to put an end to their two-game skid, the Smokies went with a rare piggyback outing with Thomas Hatch the first of three starters seeing action. Joined with Bailey Clark, Luis Lugo (4-0) and Jordan Minch, the four of them combined to go eight strong innings of 1 ER 2H ball with Lugo picking up his fourth win of the season in a 6-1 win.

Speed kills, and you can ask recently called up Zach Davis how much it truly does after being near the top of the stolen base leaderboard in Advanced-A this season. Now with AA, Davis stole his fourth base of the season setting up a throwing error on the same play as him, and Charcer Burks trotted home for the quick 2-0 lead in the second. Mobile was able to make things 2-1 in the third when Brandon Marsh picked up one of the teams two hits in the game with an RBI double, but it was all Tennessee from there.

Connor Myers made sure the offense wouldn’t go into hiding in the fourth as his soft liner to center brought home the game's third run and first on a hit for a 3-1 Smokies lead. Tennessee busted things open in the bottom of the sixth when Burks added an RBI single ahead of a ground rule double off the bat of Gioskar Amaya to push things to 5-1.

Burks continued his strong night with another RBI single in the eight to push the lead to 6-1 before Wyatt Short sealed the deal in the ninth to give the Smokies the 6-1 easy win. With the win, Tennessee evens the six-game series at 2-2 as they are sitting at 42-51 this season.

Burks was right in the middle of everything in this one collecting a pair of hits and two RBI’s to lead the offense. Vimael Machin was 1-3 to keep his average above .300 at .303 while Nico Hoerner suffered a rare hitless night at the plate. Short continued his impressive run in AA dropping his ERA to 1.88 with another scoreless night.

MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 1 – Lynchburg Hillcats 6: With rain washing away Saturday’s contest, the two teams met up for a doubleheader on Sunday with game two as the makeup from Saturday. In game one the Pels turned to Ryan Kellogg on the hill who didn’t deliver the performance he was hoping for lasting just 4 2/3 innings in a 6-1 defeat.

The Game was decided in the first inning when Mitch Reeves cracked an RBI double for a 2-0 lead as the Hillcats wouldn’t need any other offense for the game. Not knowing it at the time, Lynchburg continued to add on in the second when another double, this time by Tyler Friis pushed the lead to 4-0.

A third double and second by Reeves in the fifth saw the lead grow to 6-0 before Myrtle Beach was finally able to break through in the bottom of the sixth when Miguel Amaya put an end to the shutout bid with a sacrifice fly, but that is all the offense the Pels could muster falling 6-1.

MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 3 – Lynchburg Hillcats 2: With rising prospect Paul Richan on the hill for game two, things were looking much brighter in terms of Myrtle Beach earning a DH split. Richan not only picked up the win to improve to 9-4 but did so going the distance allowing just 2ER in seven fabulous innings of work with 1 BB and 6K as the offense did just enough in a 3-2 win.

Richan did not get off to the greatest of starts however as the doubles parade continued for the Hillcats in the first inning. After collecting all six runs in game one on RBI doubles, Tyler Freeman wanted to get in on the action with an RBI double of his own, and once again a pair of runs crossed the plate for the 2-0 Hillcats lead in the first. That was all Richan allowed for the game as he settled in nicely and waited for the offense to do the same.

The Pelicans were able to draw even in the bottom of the third when Jimmy Herron went deep for his fourth homer of the season but third of the second half.

One inning later saw Jose Gutierrez give the Pelicans the lead for good as his sacrifice fly made things a 3-2 game. Richan took care of the rest as he gave the bullpen a break to throw a complete game effort to provide the Pels with an excellent 3-2 bounce back win.

Myrtle Beach continues to play well in the second half despite a 34-58 overall record as they have nearly as many wins this half as they did all first half. Delvin Zinn continues to hold his own for Myrtle Beach increasing his average to 268 with a pair of hits. Cam Balego, Wladimir Galindo, Herron, Kevonte Mitchell, and Gutierrez all had hits in the win.

SOUTH BEND CUBS 4 – Quad City River Bandits 6: This has not been the type of homestand the Cubs were hoping for as they entered Sunday 2-2. With Riley Thompson on the bump Sunday, South Bend aimed for a series win against a team with one of the best records in the Midwest league. Quad City had other ideas as they chased Thompson in the fourth after he allowed 5ER as the River Bandits managed to even up the series with a 6-4 win.

South Bend managed to strike first in the second inning when Yonathan Perlaza carried his hot hitting from Eugene up a level to deliver an RBI single for the 1-0 Cubs lead. The lead doubled in the bottom of the third on a Rafelin Lorenzo double only to see Quad City break out the bats in the top of the fourth to chase Thompson.

After cruising through the first three innings, Thompson was thumped in the fourth as a Freudis Nova double and Alex Holderbach groundout quickly tied things at 2-2 with the River Bandits still threatening. Another RBI grounder gave Quad City the lead for good before Ramiro Rodriguez, and Alex McKenna picked up RBI doubles to end a five-run frame with South Bend suddenly down 5-2.

The Quad City lead grew to 6-2 in the sixth when Rodriguez added an RBI single to what was already a good day at the plate. It wasn’t until the bottom of the eighth when South Bend began to chip away at the lead.

Coming off his game-winning homer on Saturday, Brennan Davis picked up another RBI as his sacrifice fly made things a 6-3 game. Luke Reynolds appears to be finding his groove now that he is in South Bend and closed the cap a bit more as his RBI single made things a 6-4 game with the teams heading to the ninth inning.

Down by two with their final at-bats, South Bend got off to a great start as both Jonathan Sierra and Perlaza led the inning off with walks bringing the winning run to the plate again. Unfortunately, South Bend couldn’t do anything with that scoring chance as the next three Cubs hitters were retired handing South Bend a 6-4 loss.

The Cubs continue to float in the middle of their division as they sit at 49-42 for the season. Both Andy Weber and Perlaza had multi-hit nights at the plate with Perlaza starting strong in his first game with South Bend. Cole Roederer saw base three times as he reached with a pair of walks and a single while Davis suffered a rare hitless night.

EUGENE EMERALDS 6 – Boise Hawks 0: Fresh off a solid split with the Volcanoes, the Emeralds turned their attention to the Hawks looking to keep the road trip going on positive vibes. Led by a quartet of arms, the Ems allowed just four hits in the game and picked up a combined shutout win 6-0 as Chris Kachmar picked up his second win of the season.

Eugene only needed two innings to take the lead as Darius Hill rolled a single through the shortstop hole for a quick 1-0 lead. The Ems never looked back as their pitching was strong all night. Clinging to that 1-0 lead in the seventh, the Ems were looking for some much-needed insurance runs which is exactly what they got in the seventh. With a pair of runners already on base, Fernando Kelli laced a single up the middle to push the lead to 3-0 before advancing to second on an error. That error proved to be costly as Kelli stole third later that inning before coming home on another error to make it 4-0 Ems.

Chase Strumpf appears to have shaken off his early season struggles as he blasted his second homer of the season to extend the Eugene lead to 6-0 in the top of the ninth.

Riley McCauley continued to dominate the ninth inning tossing yet another scoreless inning to close the door on the 6-0 win while dropping his ERA to 1.26 in the process.

Eugene is slowly starting to play a little bit better as they improve to 13-17 on the season. Kelli continues to shine in the leadoff spot for the Ems collecting a team-high three hits to go with his 10th steal and two RBIs. Kelli is hitting a 313 so far this season. Luis Vazquez, Caleb Knight, and Strumpf all had two-hit nights with Strumpf picking up those two RBIs with his blast in the ninth.

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