Down on the Cubs Farm: Ian Happ hitless, Smokies' walk-off loss, Lange impressive, more

Down on the Cubs Farm: Ian Happ hitless, Smokies' walk-off loss, Lange impressive, more

by - Senior Writer -

It was busy, but a rather disappointing night on the diamond last night as the Cubs were just 1-4. Despite four losses, all four of those losses were close games as all four teams refused to go down without great fights.

IOWA CUBS 6 – Fresno Grizzlies 7: The losses continue to pile up of late for Iowa as it was Trevor Clifton (1-6) dropping this decision 7-6. The final score doesn’t indicate the type of outing Clifton had as he pitched much better than the results show. Clifton went six innings allowing 5ER, but all five of those runs came in the fifth inning after tossing five scoreless frames the rest of the game.

Iowa got the scoring started in the second inning as they backed Clifton with some early run support. With one out, Robel Garcia ripped a single as he would later move to third on the Jim Adduci double and just like that Iowa had a pair of runners on base with one out. Trent Giambrone kept the line moving as he picked up the third straight hit of the inning for the 2-0 Iowa lead. Clifton would later bunt into an inning-ending double play preventing more runs from possibly scoring.

After a mostly quiet next three innings, Fresno busted out the bats in the fifth inning as they appeared to solve the early Clifton mystery. Raudy Read couldn’t have asked for a better start to the inning setting the Grizzlies up with a leadoff double. Two batters later, Alec Keller got the Grizzlies on the board with a double of his own to make it 2-1.

The offensive onslaught continued in the fifth as the Wilmer Difo single brought things even once again 2-2. It was then time for the doubles brigade that gave the Grizzlies the lead for good as Carter Kieboom and Jose Marmolejos brought home three more runs off two doubles putting Fresno in front 5-2 after five.

With Garcia making it a 5-3 game with his solo homer in the sixth, Fresno began to pull away in the seventh as they picked up a pair of runs off James Norwood. First, it was Difo providing the fireworks as he not only hit one into the gap but used his legs to leg out an inside the park homer to make it 6-3. Jake Noll added a sacrifice fly later that inning to push the lead to 7-3 as Iowa was down to their final six outs.

The Cubs would not go away quietly as they made things exciting in the ninth inning. Starting with a leadoff Garcia walk, the next two hitters were retired as the Cubs were down to their final out. That is when the rally started as Jacob Hannemann kept the inning going with a single. Donnie Dewees followed that up with a single of his own bringing things to 7-4.

Iowa continued to make the furious comeback as an error from the Grizzlies allowed Wynton Bernard to reach base safely pushing home another run to make it 7-5. Taylor Davis showed his mental toughness as his single made it a 7-6 game and he would represent the go-ahead run in the process standing on first. However, the Cubs rally came to an end right there as Phillip Evans lined out to center to end the game with Iowa falling 7-6.

Despite losing 10 of their last 15 to fall to 35-31, the Cubs remain in first place in their division. The Cubs received a trio of excellent performances as Davis, Garcia, and Hannemann all collected two hits in the loss. Ian Happ went hitless with a pair of k’s, while Xavier Cedeno continued his rehab stint with another scoreless inning.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 6 – Pensacola Blue Wahoos 7 (12 innings): Looking to bounce back from his worst start of the season, Oscar De La Cruz toed the rubber looking to defeat Pensacola. For the second straight start, De La Cruz labored through five innings as he allowed 4ER on just 4H. The problem was command as he walked four hitters despite striking out six. However, the Smokies offense did a great job scoring runs for him as he managed to pick up a no-decision before the Blue Wahoos walked off Tennessee in the 12th 7-6.

It didn’t take long for the Smokies to open the scoring needing just two innings to push across the games first run. With two outs, Ian Rice extended the inning, putting himself in scoring position with a double. Jhonny Pereda followed him up with a single giving the Smokies a 1-0 lead. Pensacola would answer in the bottom half of the inning as Taylor Grzelakowski tied the game up 1-1 with a single.

Tennessee managed to retake the lead 2-1 in the fourth after a Vimael Machin double, but it was the Blue Wahoos grabbing complete control in the bottom half of the fourth with a big inning off De La Cruz. With two walks in the inning, De La Cruz found himself in trouble but managed to put himself in position to get out of it unscathed. That was not meant to be as Joe Cronin connected for his fourth homer of the season giving Pensacola the 4-2 advantage.

Once again, it was an even number inning that got the Smokies on the board as Machin came through with another clutch hit. With the bases loaded in the sixth following singles from Clayton Daniel, Jared Young, and Eddy Martinez, Machin came up with bases loaded an no outs with a chance to deliver a huge hit. He did just that as his double brought home a pair of runs to tie the game up 4-4. A wild pitch a few pitches later allowed Martinez to score and just like that Tennessee had the lead once again 5-4.

The back and forth affair continued in the bottom half of the inning with the Blue Wahoos looking to strike back yet again. With two men already on base, Travis Blankenhorn ripped a single to right field to tie the game 5-5. An error on the play allowed the remaining base runners to advance 90 feet which proved to be costly a few pitches later. Jaylin Davis gave the Blue Wahoos the lead once again with a sacrifice fly, as it was up to the bullpen to finish things off.

Down by a run in the ninth, the Smokies did not panic as everyone knew how this game had gone thus far. Down to their last out, Daniel extended with his second double of the season putting himself in scoring position. Young followed that up with a single of his own putting runners on the corners, but it was Martinez coming through with the biggest hit of the game as his single tied things up 6-6 sending the game to extras.

Pensacola would get the last laugh as Christian Donahue entered the game to pitch the 12th. A position player by trade, Pensacola was chomping at the bits with him on the mound needing to see just four pitches as Ben Rortvedt delivered the walk-off single for the 7-6 Blue Wahoos win.

Tennessee continues to limp into the all-star break as they are sitting at 30-35 on the year. Daniel and Young had huge nights at the plate, collecting three hits each in the loss. Machin added a pair of hits to go with his three RBI’s as his average sits at 312 to lead the team. Wyatt Short and Craig Brooks continue to dominate out of the pen as they combined for five shutout innings of relief with 0BB and 9K. Short is sporting a 1.24 ERA while Brooks leads all relievers at 0.66.

MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 0 – Fayetteville Woodpeckers 1: What does Alex Lange need to do to get a win in the Carolina League this season. Despite a 1-9 record and 7.36 ERA, Lange has been on an impressive run as of late which was culminated by his best start of 2019 on Wednesday night. Not only did Lange go seven innings for the first time, but he allowed just 1ER on 2H in the process with a season-high 9K and 1BB. The only problem was the Pelicans offense was held to a minimal output recording just three hits to fall 1-0.

The lone run came in the second inning last night as Scott Schreiber connected for his third homer of the season and 1-0 lead. Usually, a one-run cushion is not enough, but with how much the Pelicans offense struggles to find consistency, that one run would be just enough to stand up.

The first scoring chance for the Pelicans came in the fourth inning as they looked to mount a nice two-out rally. With a fielding error putting Carlos Sepulveda on base, Cam Balego was hit by a pitch shortly after to put two runners on base. Myrtle Beach was unable to push a run home, however, as they remained scoreless after four.

That was the majority of the excitement on the evening for the Pelicans as they only put four runners on base over the final four innings to fall to 20-43 on the season. Already eliminated from first half contention, the Pelicans are just hoping to build some confidence moving forward before starting fresh in the second half. Sepulveda, Aramis Ademan and Balego had the three hits in the loss while Ryan Lawlor continued to shine in relief with another scoreless inning to bring his ERA down to 0.87 with the Pelicans and 0.47 total for the year.

SOUTH BEND CUBS 4 – Lansing Lugnuts 6 (game 1): The Cubs had a busy day on the diamond Wednesday night as they had to play a doubleheader against Lansing. In the first game, the Cubs turned to Riley Thompson who was looking for a quality performance. In his five innings, Thompson allowed 3R on 8H with two of those runs earned to earn a no-decision. If it wasn’t for a rare rough relief appearance from Ethan Roberts, the Cubs might have won, but instead fell 6-4.

It was all Lansing early on as they jumped on the Cubs immediately in the first inning. Hunter Steinmetz gave the Lugnuts a 1-0 lead with a single. Gabriel Moreno would later extend the lead to 2-0 with an RBI groundout as the Lugnuts were off and running early.

Hagen Danner pushed the lead to 3-0 after three with an RBI groundout before the Cubs finally were able to break through on the scoreboard.

It may have taken four innings, but the Cubs got off to a good start as Delvin Zinn stayed hot with a leadoff double. Two batters later, it was Andy Weber coming through with a huge single as that hit broke the shutout bid with the Cubs now trailing 3-1. South Bend continued their comeback bid in the sixth inning as a bases-loaded Cole Roederer walk cut things to 3-2 before Christopher Morel tied the game 3-3 with a sacrifice fly.

With the usual seven innings not enough, the teams headed to extras to determine the winner of game one. It was in the eighth inning when Lansing began to flex their muscles as Rafael Lantigua delivered the knockout out blow with a two-run triple to make it 5-3. Jesus Severino made it a 6-3 game with a fielder’s choice as the Cubs managed to pick up one run in the bottom half of the inning off a Weber single to before falling 6-4.

SOUTH BEND CUBS 6 – Lansing Lugnuts 2 (Game 2): After dropping the first game of their doubleheader, the Cubs had a desperation mindset in game two Jack Patterson taking the ball. Despite his strong effort allowing 1ER on 3H in four innings, it was Jose Albertos picking up the win as he pitched the final three innings allowing just 1ER himself.

Game two was a complete 180 from game one as it was all South Bend early. Davis gave the Cubs the lead for good in the first with a single, but it was in the second inning when the Cubs put up a huge inning. With one out, Levi Jordan reached on a single before an error allowed Gustavo Polanco to reach putting a pair of runners on base.

That set things up for Rafael Narea as his single up the middle brought home a pair of runs to increase the South Bend lead to 3-0. Zinn continued the hit parade with another single before Davis delivered the knockout blow with a three-run shot for his third homer of the season giving the Cubs a 6-0 lead through two. The Cubs were able to have that inning stand up as a third-inning Nick Podkul single, and a fifth-inning Griffin Conine single were the only two runs Lansing could score with the Cubs winning game two 6-2.

With the split, South Bend is sitting at 34-31 hoping to finish the first half strong. Davis remains a man on a mission since arriving at South Bend, picking up a pair of hits and four RBIs to raise his average to .328. Tyler Durna picked up two hits of his own, while Zinn was a perfect 3-3 in the leadoff spot.

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