Down on the Cubs Farm: Adbert Alzolay impressive, Eugene opens season with win, more
Adbert Alzolay could be brought up to the majors this season (Mark Rebilas - USA Today Sports)

Down on the Cubs Farm: Adbert Alzolay impressive, Eugene opens season with win, more

by - Senior Writer -

The Cubs were finally in full swing on the farm as Eugene began their 2019 season Friday night. With another team to watch, the Cubs managed to go 3-2 on the evening with several dominating pitching performances stealing the show.

IOWA CUBS 7 – Fresno Grizzlies 2: Looking to take the series on Friday, the Cubs turned to Adbert Alzolay as he looked at continuing to mystify AAA hitters. I don’t know what more needs to be said about Alzolay (2-1) at this point, as we tossed six more impressive innings of 2ER on 8H ball, 0BB and 9K before turning it over to the bullpen for the win. His ERA has dropped to 3.09 as it may be time to consider getting him into the Windy City to see what he has.

Scoreless through two innings, the Cubs broke through in the third as they used the next three innings to grab complete control of the game. A two-out Donnie Dewees single kept the inning going after the first two hitters were retired. Jim Adduci followed that up by extending his hitting streak to 12 games with a double before another double off the bat of Robel Garcia made it 2-0 Iowa after three.

The Cubs continued to keep the pressure on in the fourth as their offense was on point yet again. A leadoff Trent Giambrone single was only the beginning as the Cubs were threatening once again. This time it was Dixon Machado getting in on the extra base fun as he connected for the games third RBI double to make it 3-0. Machado would advance to third on the throw home before scoring on the Erick Castillo sacrifice fly to push the lead to 4-0 in favor of Iowa.

After Giambrone made it a 5-0 game in the top of the fifth with a single, Fresno was finally able to get on the board putting an end to the shutout bid in the bottom half. Matt Reynolds brought home the Grizzlies first run of the game with a fifth-inning solo shot for his sixth of the season. Fresno continued to battle back in the sixth when former Iowa player Brandon Snyder came through again with a double to make it 5-2 after six.

It was all about Giambrone the rest of the night as he had his best game in a long time. Giambrone extended the lead to 6-2 with his 11th homer of the season in the eighth inning, before adding a bases-loaded walk in the ninth to cap off the scoring with Iowa coming out on top 7-2.

This was an excellent series win for the Cubs as they improve to 37-31 for the year. Giambrone led the way going 3-4 with 3RBI’s in the win, while Machado, Dewees, and Adduci all hit two hits of their own in the win. Ian Happ was hitless at 0-2 but managed to show great patience taking 3BB in the game. Duane Underwood continued to pitch strong in relief with another scoreless inning as Junichi Tazawa, and Dakota Mekkes joined in with scoreless frames of their own.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 4 – Pensacola Blue Wahoos 5 (11 innings): The Smokies must not believe in nine innings anymore as once again that battled for extra baseball with Pensacola Friday night. 24-hours after Jared Young delivered a game-winning hit in extras, and it was the Blue Wahoos turn to return the favor as they walked off the Smokies 5-4 in 11 innings.

Justin Steele got the start in this one, and although solid on the hill, he did not last long. Steele managed to throw just 3 1/3 but did not allow a hit or a run in the process to go with 7K. His four walks were a concern as his pitch count got a number; they didn’t feel comfortable letting him continue.

Early on it was all Tennessee, as they got going with a massive first inning. Two batters into the game the Smokies had a pair of runners on base as Roberto Caro led the game off with a single before Vimael Machin was hit by a pitch. Two batters later Eddy Martinez worked a walk and just like that the bases were loaded with one down. Looking for that elusive clutch hit, Ian Rice came through with a single to bring home the games first run, but with Machin getting nailed at the plate, the game was 1-0 instead of 2-0.

With two outs, Charcer Burks extended the inning with another walk and just like that the bases were loaded again. Jesse Hodges followed that up with a single to bring home a pair, and the Smokies were now in front 3-0 after one inning of play.

Heading to the bottom of the sixth, Tennessee led by three as neither team could do anything from the second inning on. That was until the bottom of the sixth when the Blue Wahoos were finally able to break through, With the bases loaded, Pensacola got on the board with Michael Davis single to make it 3-1 before a Jimmy Kerrigan sacrifice fly made things a 3-2 ballgame.

Down by a run in the bottom of the ninth, the Blue Wahoos continued the comeback bid as a Taylor Grzelakowski single, tied things up 3-3 as they were heading to extras once again. After a scoreless 10th, Tennessee retook the lead in the 11th as Hodges dropped down a perfect safety squeeze bunt for the 4-3 lead. However, it was the Blue Wahoos getting the last laugh in this one getting a pair of RBI singles from Kerrigan and Travis Blankenhorn in the bottom of the 11th to walk off Tennessee 5-4.

The Smokies are 31-36 on the season but are ten games under .500 since the Nico Hoerner injury. The top of the order continued to set the tone with Caro and Machin each grabbing two hits in the win. Rice also picked up pair of hits with Hodges adding the seventh and final hit. Jake Stinnett was the lone reliever to toss a scoreless inning of work, while Craig Brooks allowed his first earned run in quite some time as his ERA rose to 0.92.

MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 4 – Down East Wood Ducks 5: Wins continue to be a struggle for the Pelicans no matter how strong their effort is. That was once again the case on Friday as a late-game rally went to waste with the Wood Ducks managing to pick up the win 5-4. On the mound was Javier Assad, and although he didn’t last as long as he would have liked too, was still very good. Assad allowed just 1ER in 4 innings of work on the mound before turning things over to Ryan Kellogg and the bullpen who gave up four runs in 5 innings.

The Pelicans managed to crack the scoreboard first immediately in the first inning as they were playing with a rare lead. A one-out Carlos Sepulveda double gave Myrtle Beach their first baserunner, as he would advance to third on a throwing error on the same play. Following a Miguel Amaya walk, Cam Balego lofted a sacrifice fly to left field to bring home the games first run and just like that it was 1-0 Pelicans.

Down East quickly responded in the top half of the second inning when Julio Pablo Martinez drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game up 1-1. Despite his command issues much of that start, that was the lone run Assad allowed as he wiggled his way out of trouble. The back and forth affair continued into the bottom of the third inning when Amaya made it 2-1 Myrtle Beach with the team's second sacrifice fly of the game.

Playing catchup in the sixth inning, the Wood Ducks used a two-run shot from Samuel Huff off Ryan Kellogg to take their first lead of the game 3-2. Not going away without a fight, the Pelicans continued to battle back as they were looking for the lead in the eighth. Sepulveda was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. An Amaya single and Balego walk followed that as the bases were loaded with no outs. On the verge of a huge inning, it was Grant Fennell at the plate, but with a force out off his bat, the Pelicans were unable to do more as the game was tied 3-3 heading to the ninth.

It was in the ninth with plenty of action was on display yet again with Down East threatening first. A one-out Yaino Perez single gave the Wood Ducks a base runner as Julio Pablo Martinez doubled home the go-ahead run to make it 4-3. After a balk moved Martinez to third, Amaya went for a pickoff of third but airmailed the throw allowing another run to come home for a 5-3 lead.

Once again, the Pelicans rallied back in the ninth as it was about some two-out magic in this one. Down to their last out, Zach Davis kept the inning alive with a sharp single. Davis would take second on a defensive indifference before Sepulveda made it a one-run game with another single. Following the walk to Amaya to put the winning run on base, Balego ended the game with a fly out as the Pelicans fell 5-4 to drop to 20-45 on the season.

The top three in the order set the tone for the Pelicans as Davis, Sepulveda, and Amaya all had two hits in the game combining for six of the teams eight. Kellogg had a rare rough outing in relief despite his ERA still a reliable 3.13, while Tyler Peyton took the loss.

SOUTH BEND CUBS 5 – West Michigan White Caps 3: Looking to finish their first half with a full head of steam, the Cubs turned to Derek Casey as he was looking to get back on track following three subpar outings. Casey did precisely what he needed to do, going six strong innings allowing 2R (1ER) on just three hits in the process, striking out 5 and 0BB. He was backed by a solid offensive performance as the Cubs picked up the 5-3 win.

Things didn’t look good early as South Bend was down immediately in the first inning. With a pair of runners on base, Ulrich Bojarski singled up the middle to give West Michigan the 1-0 lead. South Bend finally responded in the third when their offense started to see the ball a little better.

Delvin Zinn continued to be the Catalyst on offense getting things started with a one-out single. With two outs, it was Andy Weber coming through with a double as he brought the game even again 1-1. Tyler Durna followed that up with a single to bring home Weber as South Bend was now in front 2-1.

Following a third inning Christopher Proctor homer to tie the game at 2-2, South Bend retook the lead for good in the fifth with another solid inning. Two batters in the Cubs had a pair of baserunners on base as Rafael Narea singled and Zinn worked a walk. Brennan Davis moved both runners up 90 feet which proved to be very beneficial as the Weber and Durna combination were huge again with consecutive RBI singles to make it 4-2 South Bend.

The Cubs lead grew to 5-2 in the seventh as the top of the order continued to wreak havoc on White Caps pitching. One out singles from Zinn and Davis was only the beginning as Durna picked up his third RBI hit of the game pushing the lead to 5-2. That would be all South Bend would need as a ninth-inning Bojarski homer was the last of the West Michigan offense giving the Cubs a much needed 5-3 win.

South Bend appears to be trending in the right direction as they are 36-31 on the year. Weber and Durna were the men of the game in this one, combining for seven of the teams 13 hits and driving in all five runs. Zinn and Davis each added a pair of hits in the win.

EUGENE EMERALDS 2 – Hillsboro Hops 0: They say a great first impression can tell a lot about someone, or a team. The Emeralds certainly made a great impression on Friday riding a strong pitching performance to a 2-0 opening day win.

Getting the start was former South Bend reliever Zach Mort who was solid in his four innings of work. Mort allowed just three hits in four shutout innings of work in a no-decision effort. The Emeralds didn’t need a lot of offense as they got all they needed in the second inning.

Jake Slaughter opened the inning up with a solid double putting a runner in scoring position. One pitch later it was Jonathan Soto picking up a single as the Emeralds had runners on the corners with no outs. With Edmond Americaan at the plate, Slaughter was allowed to trot home as a balk brought home the games first run. Americaan would single a few pitches later to make it 2-0 Eugene.

That would be all the offense the Emeralds would need as Mort, Eduarniel Nunez, winning pitcher Carlos Vega and Ivan Medina (S) combined to toss a five-hit shutout to give the Emeralds their first win of 2019. Along with Americaan, Slaughter, and Soto, Fernando Kelli picked up the last hit as the Emeralds were held to just four hits, three singles in the game.

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