Down on Cubs Farm: Playoff Edition


by - Staff Writer -
Patrick Gorski - USA Today Sports
Patrick Gorski - USA Today Sports

Is there a better thing in the world of sports than postseason baseball? For the Chicago Cubs and their organization, both South Bend and Iowa began their second season as they opened postseason play with hopes of league titles to follow. What looked like a promising night in which the Cubs would go 2-0 turned into heartbreak for one as they went 1-1 on the evening.

IOWA CUBS 4 – Round Rock Express 5 (11 innings): Iowa couldn’t have asked for a much more heartbreaking loss in game one than what they suffered against Round Rock on Wednesday. After dropping 11 of the teams 16 contests during the regular season, the Cubs had the Express with their backs against the wall holding a 4-2 lead heading into the bottom of the 11th inning. Dillon Maples entered to lock down the save, but instead, it was Round Rock getting the last laugh, plating three runs to steal the 5-4 walk-off win in extras.

2019 PCL pitcher of the year Colin Rea not only got the ball in game one but continued to deliver at the level he has all season. In his six innings of work, Rea allowed just two runs on six hits against the high-powered Express offense while striking out four in what turned out to be a no-decision effort. For Rea, both of those runs he allowed came in the second inning when Drew Ferguson took him deep for a two-run shot and early 2-0 Round Rock lead.

From that point forward, Rea was on top of his game as the Express offense couldn’t get much going after that inning. It always allowed the Cubs to keep things close before their offense finally got on the board in the sixth. P.J. Higgins continued to produce since his promotion cutting the lead in half with a sacrifice fly. One inning later saw Charcer Burks add a sacrifice fly of his own and just like that we had a 2-2 ball game with it now a battle of the bullpens.

After Alex Wilson and James Norwood followed Rea with three scoreless frames, the teams headed to extra innings as game one just got more interesting. Still tied 2-2 in the 11th, Iowa finally broke through again as they took their first lead of the night. The red-hot Jim Adduci was able to put Iowa up 3-2 as he reached on a fielding error. Trent Giambrone followed that up with a sacrifice fly to push the lead to 4-2 with Maples set to finish off Round Rock in the bottom half the inning.

The Express had other ideas however, as the command issues from Maples continued to bear its ugly head. After a wild pitch made things 4-3, Round Rock had the winning run in scoring position as things began to tighten on the Cubs defense. That set the stage for Chas McCormick who took the 1-1 pitch up the middle for a single to bring home a pair giving the Express the 5-4 walk-off game one win.

Iowa was held to just seven hits in the game with Johnny Field and Vimael Machin each grabbing two. Giambrone, Higgins and Phillip Evans picked up the remaining three hits for Iowa in what was otherwise a quiet offensive night. Adduci was 0-5 with three strikeouts while David Bote was not in the Cubs lineup. Outside of Maples rough showing, the Cubs bullpen was solid as Wilson, Norwood and Dakota Mekkes combined to toss four shutout frames with no walks and five punchouts in the loss. Game two will take place in Round Rock tonight as Tyson Miller gets the call.

SOUTH BEND CUBS 2 – Bowling Green Hot Rods 1: With what could be their final home game of the season, South Bend began the Midwest League quarter Finals at Four Winds Field against the second-half champion Hot Rods. Sometimes all it takes is one swing to decide a game and in this instance that is precisely what it was as a pair of first-inning runs was enough to stand up in the Cubs 2-1 win putting themselves one win away from a semi-final appearance.

Faustino Carrera has taken over as staff ace since the Brailyn Marquez promotion, and he once again pitched like an ace on Wednesday. In five innings, Carrera may not have struck out a batter while walking two, but he limited Bowling Green to just four hits in what ended up being a shutout outing for the win. Ivan Medina, Eugenio Palma, and Brian Glowicki followed him up to pitch the games final four frames as they withstood a Hot Rods rally to hold on for the win.

All the offense the Cubs would need came in the first inning as their bats came to play early. After Clayton Daniel led off the game with a walk, he was standing on second base with two outs after swiping the base. In danger of stranding him at second, Nelson Maldonado came through with a single to put South Bend up 1-0. It was then time for Jake Slaughter to remain red-hot at the plate as he lined one to right field for a triple extending the lead to 2-0. That proved to be the winning run in the ball game as South Bend was unable to score the rest of the game.

With the offense only putting together three more hits the rest of the game, it was up to the pitching to keep Bowling Green at bay which is what they did for seven innings. It was in the eighth inning when things began to tighten as the Hot Rods knew the importance of their final six outs. Ford Proctor wasted no time setting the offense up as his double had him in scoring position with no outs. Now with two outs and standing 90 feet away, Glowicki uncorked a wild pitch to score Proctor as the lead was cut in half at 2-1.

A pair of walks following that wild pitch had the Hot Rods threatening once again, but South Bend was able to escape without further damage. Looking to finish things off in the ninth, Glowicki made quick work of Bowling Green to retire them in order and secure his first save of the postseason as South Bend hangs on 2-1 for the win.

Maldonado led the way offensively for South Bend, collecting two of the teams five hits to go with his RBI. Daniel added an eighth-inning single to go with his walk as he reached base safely twice while Marcus Mastrobuoni and Slaughter picked up the other two hits with Slaughter delivering the game-winning hit. Cole Roederer and Brennan Davis combined to go 0-7. These two teams will meet again tonight as the series shifts to Bowling Green for the final one or two games.

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