Down on the Cubs Farm: CarGO goes deep, Caro’s five hit night, Pelicans fall in extras


by - Staff Writer -
Joe Nicholson - USA Today Sports
Joe Nicholson - USA Today Sports

The Cubs managed to go 2-2 on Sunday afternoon as both losses were tough pills to swallow with a pair of bad innings doing them in.

IOWA CUBS 8 – Round Rock Express 5: With one of the best in AAA on the hill in Collin Rea, the Cubs looked to pick up a series split with the Express before starting a nice homestand. Not only is Rea ranked in the top three in ERA, but has been even better over his past six starts, posting a 1.97 ERA over that time.

Today was just not his day, however, as he allowed 5ER in 4 innings pitched that saw his ERA rise to 3.34 on the season. Fortunately, for him, the Cubs bullpen shined in the spotlight tossing five shutout innings to pick up the 8-5 road win.

Rea has been tough to hit this season, but for some reason didn’t have his usual stuff against the Express. Yordan Alvarez continued his fantastic season in the first inning, belting his league-leading 21st homer of the season for the 1-0 lead. The bottom of the second is when the Express busted things wide open as a Nick Tanielu double, Anibal Sierra sacrifice fly and Joshua Rojas single gave Round Rock an early 4-0 lead.

The Cubs responded with a pair of runs in the fourth inning as they decided to play long ball. Phillip Evans (7) and Jacob Hannemann (2) each connected for solo shots to cut the deficit in half 4-2. The long ball continued to be a factor in the bottom of the fourth when Sierra went deep for his first of the season pushing the lead back to 5-2. That would be all the Express would get for the rest of the game as the Cubs bullpen was utterly lights out.

Iowa clawed to within a run in the top of the fifth as Mark Zagunis picked up an RBI groundout to make it 5-3. That was followed by Carlos Gonzalez who made quite an entrance on Sunday blasting his first homer with Iowa to make it 5-4. The Cubs comeback bid came full circle in the sixth as home runs by Robel Garcia, and Trent Giambrone gave Iowa the 7-5 lead as they never looked back. Evans added his second homer of the night in the seventh as the Cubs were able to connect for six home runs in the 8-5 win.

Iowa is 34-24 on the season as they near the all-star break in AAA. 19-year old Luis Vazquez showed his potential picking up three hits in the win. Hannemann, Gonzalez, and Evans all added two hits each as the Cubs pounded out 12 hits in the game. Ian Happ went 0-4 with 1BB and 2K while Pedro Strop picked up the win in relief.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 6 – Montgomery Biscuits 3: With Oscar De La Cruz on the hill once again for the Smokies, Tennessee loved their chances to take the series opener from the Biscuits. De La Cruz (3-2) did his part on the evening, tossing six innings and allowing 2ER on 3H with 1BB and 4K to pick up the win as the Smokies cruised 6-3.

Things were not always as smooth as the final score indicated as it was, the Biscuits striking first to grab an early lead. Jermaine Palacios opened the scoring in the second with an RBI double as Jesus Sanchez added to lead in the third with a solo shot to give Montgomery the 2-0 through three.

Tennessee finally got the offense going in the fourth as they took the lead for good. Gioskar Amaya led the inning off with a ground-rule double as Jesse Hodges followed up shortly after with a hit by a pitch to put two on with no outs. With one gone, Connor Myers got the Smokies on the board with a double to make it a 2-1 game. The very next pitch saw Roberto Caro clear the bases with a triple as Tennessee was now in front 3-2 following the three-run frame.

The Smokies offense continued to roll as they plated a pair of runs over the next two innings off of a Hodges fifth-inning double and Vimael Machin sixth-inning sacrifice fly to give the Smokies a 5-2 lead. Myers picked up his second RBI in the ninth inning with a single to push the lead to 6-2 with Montgomery adding a run off of Jordan Minch in the ninth on a Brett Sullivan single to fall 6-3.

Tennessee improves to 28-27 with the win as they are starting to play better ball of late. Caro was a man on a mission in this one, going 5-6 to lead the offense. Jhonny Pereda and Amaya both had two hits, with Myers adding three as the Smokies pounded out 16 hits in the win. Jake Stinnett tossed two perfect innings of relief to lower his ERA to 4.26.

MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 6 – Wilmington Blue Rocks 7 (10 innings): It was a tale of two games for the Pelicans, as one lousy inning prevented them from a victory over the Blue Rocks falling 7-6 in extras. On the mound was Javier Assad as he was looking to get back on track once again. After cruising through the first four innings, Assad was chased in the fifth after allowing 5ER in that half of an inning-ending his day with a no-decision effort.

Early on, it was all Myrtle Beach as the offense backed Assad early with a pair of runs in the second. Those runs came off the bat of Luke Reynolds, as he ripped the two-run double to plate Cam Balego and Aramis Ademan who reached base on singles. Fast forward to the top of the fifth with the Pelicans still up 2-0, Wilmington got the bats working using a huge inning to take control.

It was all about patience at the plate as a single and two walks loaded the bases with one out. The wildness continued from Assad as he walked Ricky Aracena with the bases loaded to put the Blue Rocks on the board 2-1. Now with two outs, Brewer Hicklen gave Wilmington the lead with a single, before MJ Melendez capped off the scoring with a double giving the Blue Rocks a 5-2 lead through five.

Looking to bounce back from a rough fifth, the Pelicans did just that in the sixth as their offense went to work. Miguel Amaya led things off with a single as Balego and Ademan followed suit with singles later on to load the bases with one out. Grant Fennell pulled the Pelicans to within 5-4 with a single as Myrtle Beach continued to have heavy traffic on the bases. Reynolds followed that up with a game-tying single but was thrown out at second trying to stretch it to a double sending the teams to the seventh tied 5-5.

After the Pelicans escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, they had a golden chance to win the game in the ninth as the Blue Rocks were in major trouble. Jimmy Herron got the inning going with a single putting the winning run on base. After advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt, Tyler Zuber worked a walk before Amaya was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one gone. However, the Pelicans were unable to cash in as the teams headed to extras tied 5-5.

It was in the 10th where Wilmington struck again as they took the lead and refused to give it back this time around. RBI singles from Nick Pratto and Seuly Matias gave the Blue Rocks the 7-5 lead with the Pelicans coming up for their final at-bats. Down, but not out, Myrtle Beach refused to go down without a fight as Herron made things a 7-6 game with a single. Zach Davis followed that up with a single to put the tying run at second, but a Carlos Sepulveda force ended the threat with the Blue Rocks holding on 7-6.

The Pelicans fall to 20-37 with the loss as they continue to search for answers. Balego was the catalyst on offense collecting three of the teams 14 hits in the game. Davis, Ademan, Reynolds, and Herron all added two hits in the loss as the Pelicans doubled Wilmington in the hit column. Amaya was 1-4.

SOUTH BEND CUBS 2 – Dayton Dragons 4: It has been a rough go of late for the Cubs as they aimed to get back on track with Cam Sanders taking the mound. Sanders (3-3), has been one of the bright spots for the South Bend rotation this season, but it was one bad inning in the fourth that proved to be the difference as the Cubs fell 4-2.

For the second game in a row, the offense was tough to come by early on as the teams were held scoreless through three innings. It was in the fourth when the scoring started as both sides got off the goose egg column. South Bend drew first blood in the top half of the fourth as Christopher Morel picked up a sacrifice fly for the 1-0 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as the Dragons busted things open with a big bottom of the fourth which proved to be good enough for the win.

Juan Martinez led things off with a walk, as he would later advance to second on a one-out Jay Schuyler single. Morgan Lofstrom gave the Dragons the lead for good a few pitches later with his two-RBI double putting himself in scoring position in the process. Three pitches later it was Miguel Hernandez going yard to give the Dragons a comfortable 4-1 lead chasing Sanders in the process.

Fortunately for the Cubs, their bullpen was strong in relief as the Dragons were held scoreless the remainder of the game. That gave the South Bend offense a chance to come back as they still had plenty of time. With just two innings remaining, the Dragons still held a 4-1 lead, but it was the Cubs showing some signs of life in the eighth inning.

Jonathan Sierra and Rafelin Lorenzo got things started with consecutive singles as the Cubs had something going. Two batters later, it was another single from Morel as the bases were loaded with just one out. Looking for a big hit, Gustavo Polanco was able to push across the Cubs second run with a

sacrifice fly, but that would be all as the Cubs failed to do further damage down 4-2.

Down to their final at-bats in the ninth, Andy Weber looked to start a rally putting himself in scoring position with a one-out double. Unfortunately, that is as close as he would get to scoring as the Dragons slammed the door shut and picked up the 4-2 win.

With the loss, South Bend is now 30-25 as they remain in fourth place. Levi Jordan, Weber, and Lorenzo paced the offense as they collect two hits apiece in the nine-hit effort. Add in the six bases on balls taking by the Cubs, and plenty of traffic was on the bases as they stranded 24 men on base in the game. Sean Barry remains one of the top relievers in A ball, tossing a pair of shutout innings with 4K to bring his ERA to 1.80 for the year.

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Tags: Phillip Evans, Jacob Hannemann, Mark Zagunis, Robel Garcia, Trent Giambrone, Luis Vazquez, Ian Happ, Pedro Strop, Oscar De La Cruz, Gioskar Amaya, Jesse Hodges, Connor Myers, Roberto Caro, Vimael Machin, Jordan Minch, Jhonny Pereda, Jake Stinnett, Javier Assad, Luke Reynolds, Cam Balego, Aramis Ademan, Miguel Amaya, Zach Davis, Carlos Sepulveda, Cam Sanders, Christopher Morel, Jonathan Sierra, Rafelin Lorenzo, Gustavo Polanco, Andy Weber, Levi Jordan, Sean Barry
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