Cubs Minor League News: Mervis homers again, Hill with two hits, Roederer and Nwogu homer
Mervis continues to rake this season (Photo via Iowa Cubs)

Cubs Minor League News: Mervis homers again, Hill with two hits, Roederer and Nwogu homer

by - Senior Writer -

With Sunday marking the last full day of the regular season, the Cubs system was hoping to end things with a bang. Granted, they did manage to have some success, but their overall record of 1-3 was not what they were looking for, and now two teams have shifted their focus to the postseason while others have some regular season remaining.


The Cubs are glad to get out of Florida and head back home, as this was a rough week of games for them. Sunday allowed them to salvage a split only to have their bullpen allow six runs in the eighth inning to seal the deal.

Adbert Alzolay continues to go through the motions of a rehabbing pitcher as he went just 2 2/3, but only allowed one run. He walked two and struck out four as he pitched pretty well. The rest of the pitchers the Cubs trotted out did a decent job apart from Ben Leeper, who picked the worst time to have his worst outing of the season.

Iowa opened the scoring on another Matt Mervis first-inning homer, but that would be it in terms of their offense until late.

Jesus Sanchez answered with a homer of his own in the bottom of the first to tie things up, but neither offense could get much of anything going until the fifth.

In the fifth, Jacksonville started showing signs of life, using an RBI double by Brian Miller to take a 2-1 lead before a pair of RBI groundouts made things 4-1. Fortunately for the Cubs, they were up to the task of battling back as Tyler Payne picked a great time to connect for his first homer and tied things up 4-4 in the seventh.

Trailing 5-4 in the eighth after the Willians Austudillo double, the Iowa offense erupted in the eighth inning and put themselves in a great spot to win. Brennen Davis started things off with a bases-loaded walk to tie things up, but that was only the beginning. Singles from Jared Young and Payne pushed the Cubs lead to 8-5 before the Esteban Quiroz sacrifice fly capped off a five-run inning with the Cubs leading 9-5.

With Leeper on to pitch the eighth and hopefully help the Cubs win, Jacksonville had other plans, which started with the Troy Johnston homer and a Sanchez bases-loaded walk to make things 9-7. Several pitches later saw Austudillo cash in with a game-tying RBI single while Peyton Burdick smoked a game-winning ground rule double. That hit capped a six-run frame as the Cubs fell 11-9.

Darius Hill continued to lead the way for the offense and came through with three hits. Payne added two hits of his own, but led the way with a season-high four RBIs.


Granted, fans are excited about the Smokies making the playoffs, but the two teams they don't want to see are Pensacola and Rocket City. They just finished a rough series with Pensacola and will have to face Rocket City in the playoffs.

Making his first start in a few weeks was DJ Herz, who has spent some time on the developmental list figuring some things out. That time was put to use in a big way as the left-hander gave the Smokies five innings of three-run (2ER) ball while striking out seven. This was the best he looked in AA, which bodes well with the postseason set.

Herz found himself trailing 1-0 after the first inning Will Banfield sacrifice fly only to see the offense give him some support in the second. Cole Roederer has suddenly found his power stroke as he connected for his third homer this week to put the Smokies in front 2-1.

Pensacola would tie things up off an error in the third, but would then take a 3-2 lead Demetrius Sims double in the fifth, which was the end of the line for Herz.

Needing offense late in the game, Chase Strumpf provided the Smokies with another go-ahead RBI as his double in the sixth gave Tennessee a 4-3 lead. That score would hold until the ninth inning when Marcus Chiu connected for an RBI double off of Zac Leigh that tied the game up 4-4 and sent it into extras.

In the extra frame, Pensacola had their way with Samuel Reyes as a pair of RBI singles from Nasim Nunez and JD Osborne mixed with an RBI groundout had the Blue Wahoos up 7-4. Nelson Maldonado managed to get one of those runs back with a single of his own, but that was it as the Smokies fell 7-5. Delvin Zinn came off the bench to lead the team with two hits while six others had one.


The lone team to win on Sunday was South Bend, as they head into the playoffs with two straight wins. Granted, the first three games of this series didn't go as planned, but Tuesday is a brand new day as the Cubs and Kernels will face off in the postseason.

In what may have been his final start of the season, Kohl Franklin at least ended things on a solid note. He may have gone just 3 2/3 as the command was an issue, but he allowed just two earned runs as the offense backed him with plenty of support. Adam Laskey finished off the fourth inning and improved to 6-0 on the season, but Richard Gallardo tossed four scoreless frames of relief to help the Cubs.

It took three innings for anyone to score, with South Bend striking first on the two-run homer by Jonathan Sierra. One inning later saw Jake Rucker tie things up with a double as those were not only both runs allowed by Franklin but also the only runs the Kernels would score.

With the score tied in the fifth, South Bend wasted no time busting things wide open as the Pete Crow-Armstrong single put them in front for good 4-2 while the Jordan Nwogu homer gave them some distance 6-2. Armstrong added another RBI in the seventh, while Sierra and Casey Opitz closed out the scoring with RBI singles in the 9-2 win.

Sierra led the offense with three hits and two RBIs as he was joined by BJ Murray Jr and his three hits. Armstrong added three RBIs to his line as they provided enough offense for the Cubs to win.


The second half was a struggle for the Pelicans, but they still managed to finish the regular season 78-53. The next stop is the postseason, where they will be facing the Charleston Riverdogs in a best of three beginning Tuesday.

Sunday was another subpar outing for the Pelicans, but you have to wonder if Buddy Bailey had other plans to set his rotation up for this week. A pair of RBI singles from Jesus Chirinos and Luis Castillo gave the Mudcats a 3-0 lead in the first and had them in front from start to finish.

Kevin Alcantara answered with a single of his own, but another Castillo single in the third followed by one from Jace Avina in the fourth had the Mudcats up 6-1. Despite that, the Pelicans continued to battle back, with Moises Ballesteros adding a sacrifice fly in the fourth ahead of the Haydn McGeary double to make things 6-3.

Carolina capped off the scoring in the sixth inning when Robert Moore unloaded for the three-run homer to give the Mudcats a 9-3 win. The Pelicans had six hits, with Ballesteros leading the way with two.

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