Down on the Cubs Farm: Alzolay dominant, CarGo’s debut, Smokies win in extras

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by - Staff Writer -
Mark Rebilas - USA Today Sports
Mark Rebilas - USA Today Sports

It was an eventful night on the farm as a mix of extra-inning games, strong pitching, and a new player debut capped off the excitement for a 3-1 record on the night.

IOWA CUBS 1 – Round Rock Express 2 (10 innings): All eyes were on Iowa Saturday night for a couple of reasons as the Cubs looked to take another game from the Express. Not only was their #2 pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay back on the hill, but it was the debut of recently signed Carlos Gonzalez as the Cubs hope a pennant race can ignite the fire back in him yet again. However, it was the Express getting the last laugh pulling out the come from behind extra inning win 2-1 in 10 innings.

What more can be said about Alzolay as he may start to generate conversation about reaching the big-league club? For the third straight start, Alzolay was dominant on the hill, tossing six shutout innings allowing 1BB and just 1H to go with 8K. His ERA dropped to 3.00 but is under 1.00 over his last three outings.

Neither team could get much going offensively, but it was the Cubs who struck first in the fourth inning. Consecutive walks to Phillip Evans and Robel Garcia got the inning started as the Cubs were in business. Following a Taylor Davis flyout that moved Evans to third, Jacob Hannemann pushed across the first run of the ball game with a sacrifice fly as Iowa took the 1-0 lead.

With the game now in the hands of the bullpen, Randy Rosario took over in the eighth looking to keep the Cubs in front. It took just one pitch for the Express to tie things up 1-1 as AJ Reed went deep for his sixth homer of the season as Rosario blew the save in the process. A Jamie Ritchie single and wild pitch after had the Express still in business, but the Cubs were able to get to the ninth still tied 1-1.

Round Rock continued to keep the pressure on the Cubs, putting a pair of runners on in the ninth before finally coming through again in the tenth. Once again it was Ritchie setting the table leading things off with a walk putting two people on base. Following a groundout that advanced both runners, it was Lorenzo Quintana coming up golden as his single-handed the Cubs a 2-1 walk-off loss in 10 innings.

Iowa falls to 33-24 with the loss but remains in first place. The Cubs managed just three hits in the contest as Evans, Garcia, and Francisco Arcia each collected one of those hits. Ian Happ was 0-4 on the night while Gonzalez went 0-4 with 1K in his Iowa debut. Tony Barnette returned from the IL to toss a scoreless inning of relief.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 7 – Biloxi Shuckers 6 (10 Innings): The extra-inning theme continued in AA as the Smokies and Shuckers treated fans to some extra baseball on the night. Despite some early offense that gave the Smokies a big lead, Biloxi rallied against the bullpen to force extras, but it was Tennessee standing tall at the end pulling out the 7-6 win.

Cory Abbott got the start as he was looking to continue his impressive season in AA. Despite allowing 4R, 3ER in five innings, Abbott was greeted with plenty of run support to earn the no-decision as the bullpen wasn’t able to hold the early for him.

Dillon Thomas gave the Shuckers a 1-0 lead in the first on a single, but that lead was short lived as the Smokies offense exploded in the second inning. A leadoff double from P.J. Higgins and walk by Ian Rice had Tennessee in business with three runners on. With just one swing, Charcer Burks made things a 3-1 game going deep for his second homer of the season. Following a Clayton Daniel and Roberto Caro singles, Vimael Machin ripped a two-run double to center to push the lead to 5-1. Burks extended the lead to 6-1 in the third with a single as the Smokies were in complete control early.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Shuckers began to mount their comeback as they started to time up Abbott as Cooper Hummel tripled home a run to make it 6-2. Fast forward to the bottom of the fifth, and it was Trent Grisham making it a 6-3 game going deep for #8 on the year. Bruce Caldwell continued to chip away at the lead as he ripped his second double of the season to make it 6-4.

With it now a battle of the bullpens in the sixth, the Shuckers continued to fight back plating a pair of runs to draw even. Max McDowell opened the inning up with a strikeout, but a wild pitch on the play allowed him to advance to first. Walks to Hummel and Grisham loaded the bases with one out as Leonard made it a 6-5 game with a sacrifice fly. Dillon Thompson would then tie things up 6-6 with a single, but if it wasn’t for Grisham getting thrown out at the third, the Shuckers could have done more.

With the game still knotted 6-6, the teams headed to extra innings with the Smokies drawing first blood. Runners automatically start at second base in the minors for extra innings, so a Machin groundout moved Caro to third with one out setting up a critical RBI chance. Jared Young made sure capitalized on that situation with an RBI fielders’ choice to put the Smokies up 7-6 as Craig Brooks finished things off in the bottom of the inning to preserve the win.

Tennessee is back to .500 as they are 27-27 for the year. Caro and Burks paced the offense with two hits each as Burks also had four RBI’s in the win. Machin, Higgins, Rice, and Daniel collected the other four hits for the Smokies. Wyatt Short and Brooks played essential roles in this one combining for four scoreless frames out of the pen to hold them off for the win.

MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 7 – Potomac Nationals 2: Led by Paul Richan on the mound, the Pelicans were in control on Saturday as they cruised past the Nationals for their 20th win of the season 7-2. Richan who improved to 6-2 on the season, tossed 5 1/3 inning of two earned run ball with no walks and seven strikeouts to earn the win and lowered his ERA to 4.13 after a couple of bad starts.

It didn’t take long for the Pelicans to grab the lead needing only two innings to do so. Grant Fennell opened the scoring with his ninth double of the season for the 1-0 lead. Yeiler Peguero followed suit with an RBI triple as the Pelicans were on top 2-0 after two. Cole Freeman was able to get a run back in the third going deep for his second homer of the season, but the Pelicans responded in the bottom half of the inning as Peguero grounded into a double play to push across the winning run and 3-1 lead.

Myrtle Beach refused to take their feet off the pedal as they continued to provide Richan with early offense in the bottom of the fourth. With a runner on base, Cam Balego made it a 4-1 game as he singled up the middle. Balego would advance to second on the same play before the red hot Kevonte Mitchell went deep for his ninth of the season pushing the lead to 6-1 in favor of Myrtle Beach.

The Nationals were able to get a second run home in the top of the second when Gage Canning picked up an RBI groundout making it a 6-2 game. Once again, the Pelicans responded to a Potomac run with a run of their own as Aramis Ademan capped off the scoring in this one with an RBI groundout as the Pelicans improve to 20-36 following the 7-2 win.

Myrtle Beach collected ten hits in the contest, with Tyler Payne, Ademan and Fennell all having two in the contest. Herron, Balego, Peguero, and Mitchell picked up the other four, while Miguel Amaya went 0-2, but managed to take 3BB in the win.

SOUTH BEND CUBS 2 – Dayton Dragons 1: It was all about the pitching on Saturday night as runs were at a premium for both the Dragons and Cubs. Thankfully, Derek Casey was up to the task allowing 1ER on 1H in 6 innings to pick up the win (3-2) as two solo home runs backed him in the 2-1 victory.

It took four innings for the scoring to get started, but South Bend was able to grab the early lead. With one out, Brennan Davis remained red hot at the plate going deep for his first homer of the season and 1-0 South Bend lead. The Dragons were quick to answer, however, as Michael Siani tied things up 1-1 with a solo homer of his own in the bottom of the fourth. That was not only the lone run Casey allowed but the lone hit as he had the offense guessing all game.

Looking to retake the lead in the sixth inning, the Cubs turned to the long ball once again as they jumped in front for good. This time it was Rafelin Lorenzo connecting for the solo shot for his second of the season as the Cubs now led 2-1. That would be all they would need as the bullpen led by Jose Albertos was lights out holding the Dragons to just two hits in the game in the 2-1 win.

After a mini-skid, the Cubs pick up win No. 30 as they improve to 30-24. Despite nine hits, the Cubs managed just those two home runs, but it was Davis leading the way with two hits as his average sits at .393 this season. Seven other players collected one hit as Christopher Morel was the lone starter not to grab a hit in the win.

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Tags: Adbert Alzolay, Phillip Evans, Robel Garcia, Taylor Davis, Jacob Hannemann, Randy Rosario, Francisco Arcia, Ian Happ, Tony Barnette, Cory Abbott, Ian Rice, Charcer Burks, Clayton Daniel, Roberto Caro, Vimael Machin, Jared Young, Craig Brooks, Wyatt Short, Paul Richan, Yeiler Peguero, Cam Balego, Kevonte Mitchell, Aramis Ademan, Miguel Amaya, Derek Casey, Rafelin Lorenzo, Jose Albertos, Christopher Morel
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