Down on the Cubs Farm: Trent Giambrone delivers late, Mills and Lugo impressive, more
Trent Giambrone hit his 13th homer of the season (Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports)

Down on the Cubs Farm: Trent Giambrone delivers late, Mills and Lugo impressive, more

by - Senior Writer -

It has come that time in the minor league season where most teams are heading to the All-star break except for AAA and short-season A ball. Before we can get to that, the farmhands had one more weekend of baseball to play as they went 3-2 on a busy Father’s Day at the ballpark.

IOWA CUBS 1 – Sacramento River Cats 0: The Cubs completed a rare feat on Sunday night as they managed to pick up a shutout against the River Cats. It wasn’t just the shutout that made it an extraordinary effort; it was where it took place as Sacramento has always been known as a hitter’s park.

Don’t look now, but Alec Mills is starting to find his groove, and that continued on Sunday. Mills tossed by far his best outing of the season, going six shutout innings allowing just 3H to go with 3BB and 5K. The only downside of his effort was the fact that he was unable to pick up the win as the Iowa offense struggled to score runs.

With just four hits from either team in the game, the offense was at a premium as both clubs needed to manufacture runs any way possible. Fortunately for Iowa, they managed to bring home just enough runs for the victory as they needed only one run. That run came in the top of the eighth inning when Trent Giambrone remained red hot picking up his 13th homer of the season for the 1-0 lead. That score would hold up as Dakota Mekkes picked up his fourth save in the ninth to close things out 1-0.

Iowa is 38-32 as they continue their road trip Monday. Along with Giambrone’s team-leading 13th homer, Jim Adduci extended his hitting streak to 13 games, while Dixon Machado and Francisco Arcia added the final two hits. After battling with shoulder issues all season, veteran free agent righty Tony Barnette continues to dominate at AAA lowering his ERA to 2.79 while picking up the win. Barnette has not allowed a run in his last nine appearances compiling 11 1/3 innings.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 3 – Pensacola Blue Wahoos 2: Looking for a series win and some momentum heading into the AA all-star break, the Smokies turned to Luis Lugo who was making his season debut with Tennessee. After a strong first half of the season with Myrtle Beach, Lugo upped the ante with the Smokies tossing 6 1/3 innings allowing 2 ER on 4H to pick up the win in his AA debut.

It took four innings for someone to break through, but Tennessee struck first on the Jhonny Pereda RBI single for the 1-0 lead. Fast forward to the seventh inning with the score still 1-0, and that is when all the offense started to come together as both teams began to see the ball.

With one out, a fielding error put a runner on base for the Smokies as they looked to capitalize on that blunder. A Connor Myers single a few pitches later had a pair of runners on base as Christian Donahue raced over to third. It was then time for Roberto Caro to deliver the biggest hit of the game as he cleared the bases with a double giving the Smokies a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.

With how things were going for Lugo the first six innings, a 3-0 lead seemed more like a five or six-run deficit, but Pensacola wouldn’t go down without a fight of their own in the seventh. Two batters in and the Blue Wahoos had a pair of runners on base as both Randy Cesar and Jimmy Kerrigan picked up singles. With one gone, Joe Cronin took a walk to load the bases as that would be it for Lugo on the mound.

Jake Stinnett was now on the mound and thrust into a tight spot as he looked to work his magic. Stinnett managed to pick up a huge second out despite allowing a run as Jordan Gore tallied a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. A few pitches later Tanner English singled up the middle to make it 3-2 as both of those runs were charged to Lugo. That would be all the Blue Wahoos could do as Stinnett got out of that jam with the lead before turning it over to Tommy Nance for the save as the Smokies hold on 3-2.

At 33-36, the Smokies didn’t meet their first-half expectations, but a strong final week of the first half should give them confidence going forward. Tennessee had a trio of players pick up multi-hit games as Pereda, Myers and Gioskar Amaya all delivered two-hit days. Caro, Vimael Machin, and P.J. Higgins picked up the final three hits, while Nance lowered his ERA to 2.50 following his third save of the season.

MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 4 – Down East Wood Ducks 5 (11 innings): With Erick Leal on the hill Sunday, the Pelicans closed out their rough first half of play with a little extra baseball as Down East pulled off the 5-4 11 inning win. Even tough Leal only lasted 2 2/3 innings, he was reasonably strong yielding 2ER before the pull pen allowed 3ER in 8 innings of work.

With both teams scoreless through two innings, Down East grabbed the lead in the third as they chased Leal in the process. With two outs, the Wood Ducks had the bases loaded after a leadoff double from Tyler Depreta-Johnson and two straight free bases from Leal. That culminated in a two-run double from Samuel Huff as Down East was up early 2-0.

The Pelicans managed to get one of those runs back in the bottom of the third with some help from the Down East defense. A leadoff Grant Fennell single got the third inning started before a throwing error on the Luke Reynolds comebacker put two runners in scoring position with no outs. Jimmy Herron cashed in on that situation with a run-scoring single to make it 2-1, but the Pelicans wasted a golden chance for more stranding the bases loaded with a no outs situation.

Looking to extend their lead a bit, Down East got back to work in the fifth. Two batters in saw Eric Jenkins lead things off with a single before Leddy Taveras picked up a walk to put a pair of runners on with no outs. A strikeout to Ryan Dorow appeared to be a good thing, but an error from Miguel Amaya on the double steal attempt pushed the lead to 3-1. Disobel Arias singled on the very next pitch as the lead grew to 4-1.

It was in the sixth when Myrtle Beach mounted the comeback as they refused to back down from the best team in Advanced A. A one-out Amaya walk gave the Pelicans a baserunner. That was right in front of the Tyler Payne homer (4) cutting things to 4-3 in favor of Down East. Payne wasn’t entirely down on the evening as he picked up a clutch RBI single in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game 4-4 as the Pelicans rallied back to force extras.

After playing hero with the bat, Payne was called upon to pitch in the 11th hoping to pick up the win in the process. However, Yonny Hernandez had other plans as his single to the right gave the Wood Ducks the lead for good 5-4 before the Myrtle Beach offense went down to end the game.

With the loss, the Pelicans couldn’t be happier for the first half to come to a close as they finished it with a 21-46 record. Herron and Payne paced the offense with two hits apiece, but it was Payne with three RBI’s setting the tone offensively. Five other Pelicans picked up one hit in the game including Amaya who also took a walk in the game. The Pelicans got solid work from their bullpen, in particular, the work of Thomas Hecht and Tyler Peyton who combined for 4 1/3 innings of scoreless ball.

SOUTH BEND CUBS 4 – West Michigan White Caps 3: After their dismal series against the Great Lakes Loons, the South Bend Cubs finished off the first half the best way they knew how disposing of the Whitecaps 4-3 as they get set to host the A all-star game. With Peyton Remy getting the start, South Bend was in good hands as he lowered his ERA to 3.70 following his five shut out inning no-decision start.

The Cubs got the party started in the first inning as they backed Remy with some helpful early support. With one down in the first, Brennan Davis remained on fire as picked up his third double of the season. Four pitches later Andy Weber gave the Cubs the 1-0 lead with his single and the inning continued for the hottest hitter in the series Tyler Durna. Already with five RBI’s in the series, Durna kept the line moving with a single setting up things for the Jonathan Sierra sacrifice fly making it 2-0 South Bend after one.

That score would remain the same until the bottom of the sixth inning when West Michigan was finally able to solve the South Bend staff. With Remy now out of the game, Jose Albertos entered in relief and was greeted with a rough showing. Two singles and a walk to start the inning loaded the bases for the Whitecaps as they still had nobody out.

Christopher Proctor was involved in one of the weirdest plays of the night shortly after as he got the Whitecaps on the board. Looking like an easy double play after nailing the lead runner at home, Gustavo Polanco uncorked a throwing error on the back end not only allowing Proctor to score but pushing across two runs also to tie things up 2-2. Another fielder’s choice off the bat of Ulrich Bojarski gave the White Caps the lead 3-2 heading to the seventh.

Following their rough sixth inning in the field, South Bend managed to keep their composure in the seventh as they aimed for the lead again. With one out, Christopher Morel took a walk ahead of a Levi Jordan single and just like that the go-ahead run was on base. South Bend continued to keep the pressure on with a double steal before a wild pitch allowed the tying run to score making it 3-3.

Now with Jordan standing on third, Polanco had a chance to redeem himself following a hideous throwing error in the previous inning. Redeem himself he did smoking a grounder up the middle for an RBI single and 4-3 Cubs lead. Delvin Zinn managed to single a few pitches later, but the two of them were stranded on base as the Cubs took the 4-3 lead into the final third of the game.

That would be all the run support South Bend needed as the trio of Jack Patterson (W), Sean Barry (H) and Ethan Roberts (S) finished things off giving the Cubs the sweep of the White Caps to end the first half. South Bend will now host the all-star game as their first half concluded with a 37-31 record.

Davis and Sierra paced the South Bend offense with two hits each while six others joined in on the fun in the 10-hit effort. Despite blowing the save, Patterson managed to pick up the win as his ERA sits at 2.88. Barry continues to mystify hitters with a 1.20 ERA while Roberts earned his seventh save bringing his ERA to 2.45.

EUGENE EMERALDS 0 – Hillsboro Hops 4: For the second straight day, Eugène was shut out by an identical 4-0 score. This one was hard to watch as Eugene was held to just three hits and were never really in the game. Yunior Perez got the start allowing 2ER in his three innings of work before turning things over the pen. Enrique De Los Rios kept things close with a pair of scoreless frames before the Hops got to Jeremiah Estrada who allowed a pair of runs in 4 innings despite 7K.

The Emeralds found themselves down quickly as the Hops struck first in the second. Kristian Robinson led the inning off with a single before using his speed to steal second. That stolen base proved to be huge as Jorge Barrosa doubled him home a few pitches later for the 1-0 lead. Barroso got a little too greedy on that play as he was thrown out trying to advance to third.

With the bases loaded in the fourth, Barrosa had a chance to deliver the knockout punch, but a double play groundout silenced a chance at a considerable inning even though another run came across to make it 2-0. It wasn’t until the seventh inning when Hillsboro delivered the Emeralds final nail in their coffin as a Joe Robbins sacrifice fly and Joe Gillette double gave the Hops a 4-0 lead as they finished things off from there.

Now at 1-2, Eugene needs to find some offense as they scored just two runs in their opening weekend. Two of the Emeralds three hits came off the bat of Yonathan Perlaza as he is hitting .333 early on the season. Luis Vazquez picked up the third hit for his first of the season in the loss.

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