Cubs Minor League News: Season ends for I-Cubs, Smokies one win away from crown

Cubs Minor League News: Season ends for I-Cubs, Smokies one win away from crown

by - Senior Writer -

It is hard to believe, but we are less than one week away from the end of baseball for the 2023 season. That is unless the Cubs find a way to make the postseason, as they will be playing at least a few games into October. Regarding the Cubs and their Minor League system, Sunday marked the end of one season and the beginning of another as Iowa saw their 2023 season come to an end while Tennessee began their League Championship series.

While the overall results were about what you expected, with the organization going 1-1, there were plenty of positives from the day and even more to take away from the regular season. That bodes well for the future of the Chicago Cubs, which is what the Minor League system is all about.


After seeing their eight-game winning streak end on Friday, the Cubs then lost the final three games of their series to close the week 3-3. That included a season finale 8-4 loss to the Bats as the Cubs 2023 season ended with the team finishing 82-65, good for third place in the division.

Looking at this score, you would never guess this was a pitcher's duel most of the day, as nine of the 12 runs came in the final two innings. That included six runs from Louisville in the eighth inning, which was the difference as they doubled up the Cubs 8-4. With Samuel Reyes spending the past month-plus as an opener, he closed out his 2023 season with a strong start and some momentum heading into 2024.

Reyes gave the Cubs four hitless innings, allowing no runs and striking out four as his ERA fell to 3.86. A quartet of relievers followed him, although Jeremiah Estrada and Cam Sanders were the only two to have success. Opposing him was Brett Kennedy, who also was the opener for Bats and proceeded to allow one run in three innings before the pen took over.

It took three innings for someone to break through as Chase Strumpf delivered an RBI single to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Having the lead was nice, but that was the only run the Cubs would have until the ninth inning, as their offense went silent the rest of the way. With the score still sitting at 1-0 in the fifth, Louisville got things rolling against Scott Kobos and took the lead for good.

Chuckie Robinson tied things up with an RBI groundout, but the Jacob Hurtubise single gave them a 2-1 lead, which they held on to until the eighth inning. With Chris Clarke now pitching the eighth, Louisville busted the game wide open as they pushed across six runs to open an 8-1 lead.

Miguel Hernandez started things off with an RBI single to extend the lead to 3-1, while Henry Ramos and Jason Vosler added RBI doubles to push the lead to 6-1. Another RBI single from Jhonny Pereda gave the Bats a 7-1 lead, while an RBI force-out brought home the game's final run for the Bats, leading 8-1.

Down to their final outs of the season, the Cubs at least showed some fight in the ninth as their offense finally came back to life after five innings of doing nothing. Jake Washer opened the scoring in the ninth with an RBI single before coming home to score on the Cole Roederer double. Later in the inning, Bryce Windham delivered another RBI knock to pull the Cubs within 8-4, but that was it, as their season ended with a loss.

After struggling most of the season in AA, Roederer has shown some progress in AAA as he led the offense with three hits and an RBI and finished the year with a .290 average. Yonathan Perlaza and Luis Vazquez added two hits as the historic season for the Cubs is now over.


Who would have thought three weeks ago that this Smokies team would be playing for the Southern League Championship? Well, here we are, and the Smokies are not only playing for the Southern League title for the second straight year but facing off against Pensacola, who knocked them off in last year's Championship series.

Hoping for a different result this time, the Smokies offense came out swinging as they scored five times in the third inning and eight times in the first three innings to set the tone and managed to take game one of their series 8-4. While the offense got off to a hot start, Brandon Birdsell deserves some love as he put together one of his best AA starts at the perfect time.

Birdsell gave the Smokies five innings, scattering four hits and allowing one run. He walked one and struck out five as his effort kept the Blue Wahoos offense in check most of the night. It didn't take the Smokies long to open the scoring as the BJ Murray JR. double in the first put the Smokies in front 1-0, and they never looked back.

Haydn McGeary pushed in another run off a double play, while the Ezequiel Pagan double in the second extended the lead to 3-0.

Following a Nasim Nunez sacrifice in the top of the third that put Pensacola on the board, the Smokies offense came to life in a big way and put this game out of reach. McGeary was right in the middle of the action again as his RBI double extended the lead to 4-1.

A bases-loaded hit by a pitch to Pablo Aliendo pushed the lead to 5-1, with Pagan adding a sacrifice fly to make things 6-1.

Tennessee closed out a five-run third inning with RBI singles from Kevin Alcantara and Andy Weber to open up a massive 8-1 lead.

The Smokies managed to hold that lead until the later innings, until the Blue Wahoos ended the game with some momentum. With Paul McIntosh adding the sacrifice fly of the game in the eighth inning to make things 8-2, Cody Morissette closed out the scoring with a two-run shot in the ninth as the Smokies are one win away from claiming the Southern League title.

Ironically, Matt Shaw was the only player in the lineup without a hit after being one of their best hitters the past month. Murray Jr. led the offense with two hits, while everyone else had one.

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