Down on Cubs Farm: Rea's All-Star tune-up, Pelicans earn sweep, Marquez lights out, more

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by - Staff Writer -
Dan Hamilton - USA Today Sports
Dan Hamilton - USA Today Sports

The Cubs were dominant on the Farm Wednesday night as both the offense and pitching led the way for the team to finish with a 4-1 record on the night.

IOWA CUBS 5 – San Antonio Missions 2: Looking for a series win against the team with the best record in the Pacific Coast League, the Cubs turned to their all-star Colin Rea for his final start before the break. Rea (10-2) continues to dazzle on the mound, as he lasted 6 1/3 allowing 2ER on just 2H while the offense took care of the rest in the 5-2 Cubs win.

The two teams exchanged runs in the first inning with Ian Happ getting the Cubs on the board with his 15th double of the season and 1-0 lead. The Missions battled back in their first plate appearances when Tyrone Taylor evened things up with a sacrifice fly to make things a 1-1 game through one. Iowa would put the game on ice in the top of the fourth inning as they used a big inning to take control of things from there.

Already with a great threat and a pair of runners on base, Phillip Evans gave the Cubs the lead once again as another double made it a 2-1 Iowa lead. Looking to cash in and deliver the knockout out punch, Donnie Dewees came through what proved to be the game-winning RBI as his ground-rule double brought home a pair of runs giving Iowa a 4-1 lead.

That lead would hold up until the bottom of the seventh inning when Jacob Nottingham made things a 4-2 game with the Missions second sacrifice fly of the game. That would be all San Antonio would be able to do on the night as the Iowa bullpen took care of things from there with Trent Giambrone adding an RBI single in the ninth inning to lift the Cubs to the series win with a 5-2 victory.

Iowa is 49-37 on the season and is one game under their high mark for the season. Iowa received plenty of great efforts at the plate, but it was the three-hit night from Jacob Hannemann leading the way. Dewees, Evans, and Happ also added multi-hit games as that was Happ’s first multi-hit game in what seems like forever. Four bullpen arms combined to throw 3 2/3 innings of shutout ball allowing just one hit in the process.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 2 – Birmingham Barons 3: The Smokies saw Thomas Hatch deliver one of his best outings of the season on Wednesday, but was it going to be enough to earn a win? Hatch certainly did his part for that manner, going 6 2/3 with no walks and a career-high ten punchouts. The only problem was, Hatch allowed 3ER in his outing which isn’t terrible, but when your offense can only score two, you won't win as the Smokies dropped a tough one 3-2 to the Barons.

Hatch and the Smokies ran into trouble immediately in the first inning as Gavin Sheets continued his excellent series with one swing of the bat. It was his 10th homer of the season that gave the Barons an early lead as Birmingham was up 2-0 before Tennessee even took their swings. With that score still intact heading to the fourth, the Smokies finally busted through as they were looking for the lead.

With a pair of strikeouts to open the fourth, the Smokies got back to back hits from P.J. Higgins, and Jhonny Pereda as a couple of runners were now on base with something cooking. That proved to be huge for Tennessee as Vimael Machin followed that up with his 19th double of the season to tie things up 2-2.

With the game still tied and Hatch reaching the seventh inning, it was apparent that he was starting to run out of gas as the Barons were looking to capitalize. Hatch managed to get two outs after the leadoff man reached base, but with a runner in scoring position Tennessee elected to bring in Tommy Nance to finish off the frame. Nance couldn’t keep things tied as Laz Rivera greeted him with what was the game-winning single to put the Barons up 3-2.

The Smokies did appear to have something cooking in the eighth inning but couldn’t find the key hit needed for the victory as Birmingham manages to hold off them off 3-2. Tennessee falls to 39-44 with the loss.

The Smokies picked up seven hits as a team with seven different players grabbing one each in the loss. On a side note, Nico Hoerner continues to rehab in Arizona and has gotten off to a great start as he is 8-15 thus far. The only question remains how many more at-bats does he need before he rejoins Tennessee, giving the Smokies one of the best infields in all of AA.

MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 4 – Carolina Mudcats 2: In front of a rare sellout crowd on hand Wednesday night, the Pelicans went for the sweep as Erich Uelmen toed the rubber. Uelmen continued to impress on the hill tossing 5 2/3 innings of 1R on 4H for a no-decision as his ERA fell to 3.46 for the season. It was a substantial eighth-inning rally that lifted the Pelicans to the sweep as they knocked off the Mudcats 4-2.

There was not a lot to talk about early on besides Miguel Amaya giving the Pelicans a 1-0 lead in the fourth off a sacrifice fly. That lead would stand until the top of the sixth when Tristen Lutz tied things with a grounder past third chasing Uelmen in the process with the score 1-1. It was in the eighth inning when all the offensive fireworks came together as both teams wanted to win this game badly.

Starting in the top of the eighth inning with Erling Moreno now on the hill, The Lookouts were able to take their first lead of the game 2-1 as Mario Feliciano came through with a clutch double. Down but not out, it was the Pelicans turn at a late-game rally needing just two runs for the lead. They got exactly what the doctor ordered as the suddenly slugging D.J. Wilson connected for his fourth homer in the past seven days to put Myrtle Beach back on top 3-2. That hit proved to be the game winner as Wilson earns another one of those to his name.

Looking for a critical insurance run, it was one of the newest additions coming through as Tyler Durna picked up his first RBI for the Pelicans with an RBI single to score Zach Davis giving Myrtle Beach the 4-2 lead with just three outs to go. That would be all the offense the Pelicans would need as Garrett Kelly entered in the ninth inning to pick up his fourth save of the season and seal the deal with a 4-2 win. Kelly has a 2.37 ERA this year.

Myrtle Beach is a long way from first place, but with a 7-5 mark to open the second half they have gotten to 29-52 this year. The Pelicans received a pair of multi-hit efforts in the game, and oddly enough one of those came from the recently promoted Durna as he seems to be fitting in quite well. Zach Davis added the other multi-hit game with fellow promoted player Delvin Zinn adding one hit of his own. Amaya may have gone hitless but did pick up the games first RBI in the win.

SOUTH BEND CUBS 4 – West Michigan White Caps 2: Looking to wrap up their homestand with a winning record, South Bend turned to fireballer Braylin Marquez as he was hoping to turn his season around. Although just one start, Marquez was as impressive as ever in his outing getting through six innings for only the second time this season allowing just 2ER on 6H to earn a no-decision in the 4-2 Cubs win. The thing that stood out most was his command as he walked only one hitter to go with his 6K.

Unfortunately for South Bend, both runs they allowed came immediately in the first as Marquez was a little shaky early. An Ulrich Bojarski sacrifice fly opened the scoring for a 1-0 West Michigan lead before a Dayton Dugas doubled extended the lead to 2-0 later in that inning. Marquez would work through that inning to keep things right there before going unharmed the final five innings of his outing.

With the pitching settling in, it was up to the offense to do the same, and they did just that in the bottom of the second and fourth innings. Christopher Morel got the Cubs on the board in the second connecting for his fifth homer of the season to make it a 2-1 game. Two innings later, the Cubs benefitted from a wild pitch as things were back to even 2-2.

As the game shifted to the later stages of the game and both starters now finished, it was a battle of the bullpens to see who would come out on top in this one. Still tied 2-2 and heading to the bottom of the eighth, the Cubs were hoping for someone to play hero as they couldn’t waste this effort at home. That, someone, was Brennan Davis as his double proved to be the game-winner giving the Cubs a 3-2 lead.

Morel came through with some much-needed insurance later that inning as his double made things a 4-2 game with the Cubs three outs away from victory. Looking to finish things off with three scoreless innings of relief, Brendan King (4-0) did the job as he allowed just one hit to go with five strikeouts over the final three frames to get the Cubs back on track 4-2.

South Bend is 44-37 on the season and remains in the thick of the playoff hunt for the Midwest league. It was the Morel show on offense in this one, as he picked up three of the teams five hits in the win to go with his two RBIs. Davis added a double and RBI himself, with Eric Gonzalez picking up the fifth and final hit for the Cubs. Cole Roederer went hitless again as his average fell to 224 after being 247 two weeks ago.

EUGENE EMERALDS 7 – Tri-City Dust Devils 1: With the combination of Kohl Franklin and Alex Whitney on the mound, the Emeralds capped off a rough road trip in style dominating the Dust Devils for a 7-1 win. The duo tossed all nine innings with Franklin throwing the first five and Whitney finishing things out as they allowed just 1ER on 5H. They did walk five hitters in the game but recovered with 9K as the offense took care of the rest.

It wasn’t until the fourth inning when the scoring got started as Luis Vazquez put the Emeralds in front 1-0 with a single. That lead was short lived as Tri-City tied things up in the bottom half on a Jason Pineda homer and just like that we had a 1-1 game. Fortunately for Eugene, that would be the lone run they would allow in this one as their offense gave them the lead for good in the fifth.

The Emeralds decided to get in on the long ball fun as Jose Gutierrez went deep for his first of the season giving Eugene the lead for good 2-1. Fernando Kelli would add to that lead later as he manufactured a run with a groundout to make it 3-1 Eugene. That score would hold up until the ninth inning when the Emeralds completely busted things open.

Clinging to their two-run lead in their final at-bats, the Emeralds showed signs of life that they have lacked much of this season. Two singles and an error loaded the bases ahead of Edmond Americaan who singled himself to make it a 5-1 game. With another walk once again loading the bases, Kelli picked up his second RBI of the night as his single made it a 6-1 game. Eugene would push one more run across home on a Yonathan Perlaza sacrifice fly to cap off the four-run frame, and the Emeralds picked up a much-needed series win 7-1.

Eugene will now head home for the weekend as they are sporting a 9-11 record 20 games in. Both Danny Zardon and Vazquez led the way on offense as the two of them had multi-hit nights. In his first game as a leadoff hitter, Americaan managed to go just 1-5 but picked up 2RBI’s. Kelli matched him with two RBI’s of his own in the win.

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Tags: Colin Rea, Ian Happ, Phillip Evans, Trent Giambrone, Jacob Hannemann, Thomas Hatch, Jhonny Pereda, Vimael Machin, Miguel Amaya, Erling Moreno, Tyler Durna, Zach Davis, Garrett Kelly, Delvin Zinn, Christopher Morel, Brendan King, Eric Gonzalez, Cole Roederer, Luis Vazquez, Fernando Kelli, Yonathan Perlaza
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