Down on the Cubs Farm: 2-1 record, Javier Assad on fire, South Bend embarrassed, more

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

With Iowa enjoying a much-needed night off, focus shifted to the lower level minor league clubs as plenty of prospects are beginning to show their stuff. On this night, it was two pitchers in particular that made their presence felt as the farmhands battled for the 2-1 record on the night.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 7 – Birmingham Barons 3: The Smokies rebounded from a doubleheader sweep on Monday to split the series with the Barons on Wednesday. That was due in part to the five-run sixth inning that helped lift them to the 7-3 win last night.

On the mound for the Smokies was Cory Abbott who improved to (4-2) on the season with a strong six-inning outing. With two ER and 4H allowed, Abbott now has an ERA under 3.00 (2.96) as he is starting to come into his grove as a starter. The Smokies did find themselves playing catchup in the first inning as a Luis Gonzalez sacrifice fly gave Birmingham the 1-0 lead.

Tennessee managed to tie things up 1-1 in the fourth on a wild pitch before Laz Rivera gave the Barons a 2-1 lead in the fifth off his single. That would be the last run Abbott would yield as he was on top of his game all night long. Looking to back Abbott for the effort he put in on the mound, the Tennessee offense erupted in the sixth and never looked back.

A leadoff single from Connor Myers got the inning started. Myers would advance to third on a wild pitch and sacrifice bunt setting the stage for Vimael Machin who delivered a single to tie the game 2-2. With runners on second and third following another sacrifice bunt, P.J. Higgins put the Smokies in front for good with a two-run single and 4-2 lead. A Charcer Burks homerun (1) capped off the five-run frame with the Smokies now leading 6-2.

Tennessee continued to add to their lead in the seventh as Roberto Caro lofted a sacrifice fly to center extending the lead to 7-2. Birmingham returned the favor in the eighth with a sacrifice fly of their own as Gonzalez made it a 7-3 game which is as close as the Barons would get.

The Smokies continue to climb back toward the .500 mark as they are now 19-20 on the season. Machin collected two more hits to see his average rise to .316 for the year. Higgins and Myers also had two hits in the win.


MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 1 – Winston-Salem Dash 0: It was all about pitching on Wednesday as Javier Assad set the stage. Assad continued to dominate in May, going seven shutout innings allowing 1H and 1BB to go with 9K in the win. Now at 2-3 on the season, his ERA has dropped to 2.19. The most impressive thing about his outing has been the month of May as a whole for Assad. In his three starts in May, Assad has yet to allow an earned run, tossing 17 innings in the process.

With his performance on the mound, the Pelicans didn’t need much support as it took a while for the offense to get going. The bottom of the fifth is when Myrtle Beach was able to cash in as a miscue from the Dash proved to be beneficial.

A leadoff single from Cam Balego got the inning started before a Kevonte Mitchell one-out walk moved him over to second. Now with two outs and runners on the corner, Balego was able to score the go-ahead, and eventual winning run off a wild pitch for the 1-0 Pelicans lead. Usually, one run wouldn’t be enough for Myrtle Beach, but on this night it as plenty as Tyler Peyton and Ben Hecht finished things off on the mound for the 1-0 shutout.
The Pelicans are 15-25 on the season as they are looking to finish the first half of the season strong. Myrtle Beach managed just five hits in the game as Zach Davis, Jimmy Herron, Balego, Grant Fennell and Jhonny Bethencourt collected those hits. Miguel Amaya was 0-3 as he continues to struggle at the plate.


SOUTH BEND CUBS 0 – Bowling Green Hot Rods 17: The Cubs were in for a long night Wednesday as their five-game winning streak not only came to an end but did so in dominating fashion falling 17-0 to the Hot Rods. Cam Sanders took the ball to start the game and did his part to keep things close.
In his four innings of work, Sanders allowed just 1ER on 6H with 3BB and 1K. His ERA continues to diminish falling to 2.45 on the season. It was the bullpen that got roughed up in this one, allowing 16 runs in just four innings of work prevent any chance of a South Bend comeback.

The lone run off of Sanders came right away in the first inning as Ford Proctor went deep for the third time this season and 1-0 lead. At the time, no one thought it would be enough to win, but that hit was indeed the game winner. Fast forward to the fifth inning; Tony Pena extended the lead to 3-0 with a double and Bowling Green was now in control.

With the Cubs still within striking distance in the sixth, the Hot Rods put an end to that in a hurry with a big inning. Kaleo Johnson singled home pair to push the lead to 5-0. That was before a Jake Palomaki triple, and wild pitch capped off a five-run frame and 8-0 lead. Now 9-0 in the eight, Bowling Green continued to tee off on the Cubs bullpen pushing across eight more runs in that frame.

With Osmy Gregorio, Proctor, Beau Brundage and Wander Franco each collecting 1 RBI to stretch the lead to 13-0, it was Chris Betts who delivered the exclamation point in that inning. Already with those four runs across, Bowling Green was threatening once again with the bases loaded. Betts then took matters into his own hands with a Grand Slam for his fifth homer of the season, and Bowling Green pounded South Bend 17-0.

The Cubs winning streak may have come to an end, but they still sit near the top of the division at 21-16. South Bend managed seven hits in the game with Jonathan Sierra and Nelson Velazquez recording two each. Velazquez continues to lead his team in average with an impressive .314 mark.



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