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Cubs Minor League News: I-Cubs win in extras, Smokies advance to championship
Photo courtesy: Tennessee Smokies

Cubs Minor League News: I-Cubs win in extras, Smokies advance to championship


by - Senior Writer -

While the Chicago Cubs may be floundering down the stretch, the same can't be said about the Cubs Minor League system, as they have gotten hot at the right time. Returning to last week, the Cubs have gone nearly a week without losing a minor league game, including another 2-0 showing on Thursday.

In the process, the Iowa Cubs picked up their eighth consecutive win of the season as they are playing their best ball since May. It is a shame they will not be in the postseason due to the playoff format rules, as they deserve to be there. On the other hand, Tennessee did what they needed to do the final week of the season to make the playoffs and have now advanced to the Southern League Championship series, where a rematch against last year's Champ Pensacola is on the horizon.

IOWA CUBS 7 - LOUISVILLE BATS 6 (F10)

It may not have come easy, but the Iowa Cubs took the best shots from Louisville, only to respond and pick up the extra-inning win. With the win, the Cubs are guaranteed to split the series, but they have also won eight straight games, one away from tying their season high. The biggest surprise regarding this winning streak has to be the pitching, as Iowa tends to go with three bullpen games a week.

Thursday was another one of those games, with Stephen Gonsalves getting the start and going two innings before the rest of the pen took over. Chris Clarke, Scott Kobos, Bailey Horn, and Keegan Thompson were a few of the names that saw action, with Thompson picking up the win in relief to improve to 3-1 with Iowa. While the Cubs had to rely on a collective pitching effort, Louisville benefitted from Christian Roa, who gave the Bats a strong 5 2/3 inning start with eight strikeouts.

A big reason for the Cubs recent success has been their ability to score first, and after Matt Mervis connected for his second homer in as many days, the Cubs were up 1-0 in the first.

Their lead didn't last long, with Jose Barrero tying things up with a solo blast in the second before most of the Bats damage came against Clarke in the fourth.

With the game tied 1-1, Louisville put together their second big inning in as many days as Eric Yang and Miguel Hernandez singles had the Bats in front 3-1. Later in the inning, Alejo Lopez and Jason Vosler got in on the fun as they also added RBI singles as part of the four-run inning that saw the Bats open up a 5-1 lead.

They held that lead until the sixth when it became the Darius Hill and PJ Higgins show. First, it was the two-run triple from Hill in the sixth to make things 5-3 before he added an RBI single in the seventh. Higgins also had an RBI single as part of a two-run seventh inning as the Cubs responded with four unanswered runs to tie things up. Iowa would make it five unanswered runs as Higgins gave the Cubs the lead late with a ninth-inning homer that put them in front 6-5.

Facing a challenging situation and down to their final outs, Jhonny Pereda came through with a clutch double to tie the game 6-6 and set the Bats offense up for more. Fortunately, Thompson was able to minimize the damage as this game was heading to extras. In the extra frame, the former top prospect Brennen Davis came through with a massive hit as his RBI single was the game-winner in the Cubs 7-6 win.

For Davis, that was a huge day for the young man as he picked up two hits on the night. Higgins also had two hits with two RBIs, but it was Hill once again putting together a great game with a team-high three hits and two RBIs.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 5 - CHATTANOOGA LOOKOUTS 1

One down, one to go, as in one round down and one round left. All it took was a massive four-run inning offensively to get the Smokies started while their pitching took care of the rest in a 5-1 win over the Lookouts. Looking to follow up a great outing by Cade Horton was Walker Powell, who accepted that challenge and delivered.

Sure, Powell only went five innings, but after allowing just one run and striking out six, his five innings were good enough for the win. A quartet of relievers, including Frank Scalzo Jr., followed him as he struck out two batters in his 1 2/3 scoreless innings to help lead the Smokies to a series win.

With the score tied 0-0 in the second, all it took for Tennessee to open things up was one swing of the bat from Kevin Alcantara, who took Sam Benschoter deep for the three-run shot and gave the Smokies an early 3-0 lead.

Little did they know that would be the game-winning hit as Andy Weber added an RBI single later in the inning to close out the four-run frame with a 4-0 lead.

The lone run of the game for the Lookouts came in the bottom half of that inning, with Francisco Urbaez coming through with an RBI groundout to make things 4-1. Given how well the Smokies pitched in this series, the Lookouts had no chance at a comeback as BJ Murray Jr. would add an RBI in the seventh to seal the 5-1 win. With the win, the Smokies advance to the Southern League Championship for the second straight season, where they will face Pensacola, who beat them last season.

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