Down on the Cubs Farm: Alex Lange turning it around, Pelicans pound out 21 hits, more


by - Staff Writer -
Lane was impressive on Thursday (Photo Credit: MB Pelicans)
Lane was impressive on Thursday (Photo Credit: MB Pelicans)

The Cubs continue to be busy on the farm as it was another 3-2 night in the minors.

IOWA CUBS 4 – Omaha Storm Chasers 1: The Cubs system is going through a substantial change over as plenty of promotions have taken place in the last week with most coming in the pitching department. The biggest surprise of them all had to be Jeffrey Passantino getting the start for the Cubs on Thursday looking to make his mark.

Not only was this Passantino’s AAA debut, but he skipped over both High A and AA ball getting the call directly from South Bend. If Thursday was any indication as to what the future might bring, look out as Passantino tossed four strong innings of 1 ER 4 hit ball with 1 BB and 6K. The bullpen took over from there as the trio of Craig Brooks, James Norwood and Rowan Wick tossed five innings of 1 H ball with six K’s to give the Cubs another win 4-1.

The Cubs opened the scoring in the third inning as the bulk of their damage came in the next two frames. After struggling for about three weeks, Dixon Machado is starting to catch fire as he connected for his 10th homer of the season and 1-0 lead. Ryan O’Hearn picked up an RBI single in the top half of the fourth to draw even, but that was the lone run Omaha could muster with the Cubs striking back in the bottom of the fourth.

After not seeing many at-bats during his time in the bigs, Mark Zagunis has been on fire in AAA reaching base in nearly every game. He remained on that trend Thursday connecting for his second homer of the season to give the Cubs the lead for good 2-1 in the fourth. Trent Giambrone followed that up with a solo shot of his own for his team-leading 17th bomb as Iowa was locked in 3-1.

With their bullpen now in control of the game, the Cubs managed to keep Omaha at bay as the Storm Chasers were left guessing. Phillip Evans would add an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth with a sacrifice fly as the Iowa lead grew to 4-1. That would be all the offense they would need as a combination of three bullpen arms allowed just one hit over the final five frames to seal the deal 4-1.

Iowa is now 45-35 on the season and has Omaha on life support in the division as they currently sit eight games back. The Cubs didn’t need a ton of offense as they generated just six hits, but it was Machado collecting a pair to lead the way. Along with the homers from Zagunis and Giambrone, Jacob Hannemann and Ian Happ picked up one hit apiece to pace the offense. Brooks earned the win to improve to 2-0 with Wick earning save No. 4.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 7 – Chattanooga Lookouts 3: Ever since leaving Myrtle Beach for AA Tennessee, Alex Lange has been a completely different pitcher and is showing signs of why he was drafted so high a few years ago. His impressive run continued Thursday as Lange earned his first AA victory of the season tossing six innings of 1ER ball on 4H to lower his ERA to 2.25 on the season. With the help of Oscar De La Cruz’s two innings of scoreless relief and a hot offense, the Smokies rolled 7-3 as they near the .500 mark.

It took three innings for someone to break through, but it was the Smokies striking first as Lange helped himself with an RBI single to give Tennessee the 1-0 lead. The Lookouts responded with a run in the bottom of the fourth as Ibandel Isabel tied things up with an RBI groundout. That was the last of the Chattanooga offense for quite some time as the Smokies erupted in the fifth to seize control of the game.

Once again, the bottom of the order got things going as Connor Myers opened things up with a leadoff double before Lange bunted him to third. A Roberto Caro single later saw the Smokies retake the lead 2-1 as they continued to build off that. Now with two down, Vimael Machin extended the inning with a single, before him and Caro pulled off a double steal with Caro coming home on a throwing error to make it 3-1. Tennessee picked up two more runs later that inning with more sloppy play as they were in control 5-1 through five.

The next two innings saw the Smokies extend the lead to 7-1 as they manufactured runs the old fashioned with both Machin and Jesse Hodges collecting sacrifice flies. Down to their final three outs, the Lookouts offense finally had something going as they got to Michael Rucker in the ninth.

The lone bright spot on offense for the Lookouts had to be Isabel, as he added to his fourth-inning RBI with a two-run shot in the ninth to make it 7-3. It was his 19th homer of the season as he was responsible for all three RBI’s in the game, but that was not enough as Tennessee takes another game from their cross-state rivals 7-3.

Tennessee is 38-39 and has a chance to get back to .500 for the first time since early June. The Smokies picked up 12 hits in the game and received five multi-hit efforts as Caro, Jhonny Pereda, Wynton Bernard, Myers, and Lange were the keys to the offense. Fresh off his four-hit night on Wednesday, Gioskar Amaya notched another single while Machine kept his average above 300 with a single of his own in the win.

MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 12 – Fayetteville Woodpeckers 6: Something has gotten into the Pelicans as of late as they are finally playing some winning baseball. Not only that, but they are also hitting the cover off the baseball as they bludgeoned the Woodpeckers with a 21-hit offensive outburst on Thursday to win their third straight game 12-6.

Looking for his second win of the season was Erich Uelmen who didn’t need to have his best stuff to survive. Don’t tell him that as he went out and tossed a six-inning gem with just 2 ER allowed while riding an impressive offensive showing for the win.

It didn’t take long for the Pelicans to strike first as they took a commanding lead right away in the second. A Cam Balego single led things off for Myrtle Beach, ahead of a one-out Tyler Payne single and Grant Fennell walk to load the bases. Then with one swing of the bat, D.J. Wilson made it a 4-0 game as his first homer of the season was a memorable one blasting a Grand Slam over the fence.

The Pelicans lead continued to grow in the top of the fourth inning when Zach Davis picked up an RBI double before going home on the Jimmy Herron single for the 6-0 advantage. With the score 7-0 in the sixth following an Aramis Ademan fifth-inning homer, Wilson got in on the fun once again, connecting for his second homer of the game to push the lead to 8-0.

An RBI from Carlos Sepulveda later that inning stretched the lead to 9-0 before the Woodpeckers finally were able to break through.

With Myrtle Beach suffocating them offensively, the Woodpeckers were looking for some life as the final third got underway. It was in the sixth when that life started to poke through as the Woodpeckers put an end to the shutout bid with a pair of runs. Those runs came off the bat of Jacob Meyers, who with one swing made it a 9-2 game with his seventh homer of the season and third off Myrtle Beach.

Sepulveda extended the lead to 10-2 with a single in the eighth, before Fayetteville made things interesting in the bottom half of that inning. Down by eight, the Woodpeckers used a pair of walks and a single to load the bases with one out as this was the best opportunity, they had against the Pelicans staff all game. With no intention of wasting this chance, Chandler Taylor cut the deficit in half with a Grand Slam of his own and just like that it was a 10-6 game with plenty of time left.

Thankfully for Myrtle Beach, this was a game they would not let slip away as Sepulveda came through once again with a two-run single in the ninth to push the lead back to 12-6. Ben Hecht then finished off the Fayetteville offense in the bottom of the ninth to slam the door as the Pelicans win three-straight games for just the third time this season and the first time since May.

Although a long way to go to have a respectable season, the Pelicans are now 24-51, but 3-5 to start the second half. You could look anywhere in the lineup and see the great production throughout, but it was a five-hit night from Davis out of the leadoff spot igniting the offensive attack. Sepulveda had a big night adding four hits of his own to go with 4 RBI’s, while Wilson had a career night with 3H, 2HRS and 5 RBIs. Fennell was the lone player not to record a hit but did manage to reach base in the win.

SOUTH BEND CUBS 2 – Fort Wayne Tin Caps 5: Looking to get back to winning baseball and find that consistency they displayed during the first half, the Cubs turned to Derek Casey on the hill looking for a series win. Casey did not have his best outing, but still managed to keep things close allowing 3ER in 4 innings, but with the Cubs, offense struggling to score it proved to be another tough game with the Tin Caps coming out victorious 5-2.

Fort Wayne not only scored early but did so often scoring in five of the games first six innings with one run each frame. With a 1-0 lead after one, the lead grew to 2-0 in the third on an error as Blake Hunt was part of both runs to start the game. The winning run came in the bottom of the fourth inning when Xavier Edwards went deep for his first homer of the season to push the lead to 3-0.

Already with a nice game in hand, Hunt continued the scoring trend as his 15th double of the season made it a 4-0 Tin Caps lead after five innings of play. It wasn’t until the sixth inning when the Cubs finally showed some signs of offensive life putting an end to the shutout bid.

After wasting their best scoring chance in the second after putting two men on with no outs, Brennan Davis led off the sixth with a single as he was just the second leadoff hitter to reach base in the game for the Cubs. Tyler Durna made sure this scoring chance would not go to waste as he connected for his fourth homer of the season to cut the deficit in half 4-2. A two-out Jonathan Sierra single extended the inning, but Fort Wayne was able to keep things there before Tucupita Marcano added an RBI single in the bottom half to make it 5-2.

South Bend had chances in both the seventh and ninth innings as Delvin Zinn was left stranded at third following a seventh-inning double while Levi Jordan led the ninth off with a single before getting erased on a double play to hand South Bend their second straight loss 5-2.

The Cubs are 40-35 for the season but are falling behind the 8-ball to start the second half. The Cubs had their chances to win this game with nine hits, but it was Durna collecting the lone multi-hit game to go with his 2RBIS. Cole Roederer was the lone batter to go hitless in the loss, while Ethan Roberts worked a scoreless inning of relief to bring his ERA to 2.78.

EUGENE EMERALDS 1 – Boise Hawks 3: Eugene couldn’t be happier to get out of Boise as they dropped a tight 3-1 contest to the Hawks on Thursday with Boise earning the sweep. One of the bright spots in this loss game from starting pitcher Kohl Franklin who went five innings allowing just 1 ER on 2H with 1BB and 5K in a no-decision effort as his ERA is now 1.42. If it wasn’t for a late bullpen meltdown and lack of offense Franklin may have gotten the win.

The lone run Franklin allowed came in the first inning as Boise had him on the ropes early. Two singles and an error to the first three hitters gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead as Michael Toglia picked up the RBI single. Franklin was able to recover from that and settle down as he did not allow a single hit the rest of his outing, keeping things close for his offense.

Although it took a little while for the Emeralds to break through, they did so in the fourth as they aimed for their first win of the series. Eugene only needed one pitch to tie things up as Jake Slaughter picked up his second homer of the season to bring things back to even 1-1. That would be all for the Emeralds as they were sent down in order following that homer.

With the game still tied and now down to a battle of the bullpens, it was Boise breaking through as they once again showed their mental toughness. With Alfredo Colorado now on the mound in relief of Franklin, Boise greeted him with an Isaac Collins leadoff single before the next two hitters were retired. In danger of stranding another runner on the bases, Aaron Schunk gave the Hawks the lead for good as his homer made it a 3-1 game after six.

That deficit proved to be too much for the Emeralds as they managed to put just one base runner on over the final three innings before falling 3-1 for the series sweep. Eugene is now 7-7 on the season as they will continue their road trip at Tri-City over the weekend.

With just four hits, there wasn’t a whole lot to celebrate as four different players collected one hit. Along with the solo homer from Slaughter, Eugene got hits from Luis Vazquez, Edmond Americaan and Reivaj Garcia with only Slaughter’s hit going for extra bases. Fernando Kelli was given the night off after a blistering start to the season. Fauris Guerrero continued his excellent season as he tossed two more scoreless innings of relief and has now gone seven innings without allowing a run.

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Tags: Jeffrey Passantino, Craig Brooks, James Norwood, Rowan Wick, Dixon Machado, Mark Zagunis, Trent Giambrone, Phillip Evans, Jacob Hannemann, Ian Happ, Oscar De La Cruz, Connor Myers, Roberto Caro, Vimael Machin, Jesse Hodges, Michael Rucker, Jhonny Pereda, Wynton Bernard, Gioskar Amaya, Cam Balego, Zach Davis, Aramis Ademan, Carlos Sepulveda, Ben Hecht, Derek Casey, Tyler Durna, Jonathan Sierra, Delvin Zinn, Levi Jordan, Cole Roederer, Ethan Roberts, Luis Vazquez, Fernando Kelli, Fauris Guerrero
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