Down on the Cubs Farm: Happ hitless, South Bend wins slugfest, Eugene with walk-off, more


by - Staff Writer -
Jake Roth - USA Today Sports
Jake Roth - USA Today Sports

In a weird night in terms of pitching, the Cubs managed to go 2-3 on the farm as the offenses clearly stole the show.

IOWA CUBS 3 – Round Rock Express 8: In a rare rough outing for Colin Rea (8-2) the Cubs bats were unable to come to life as they fell to the Express 8-3 on Sunday. It was a pair of bad innings as the Express pushed across three runs each in the fourth and fifth innings to cruise to the victory.

It was the Express grabbing the quick 1-0 lead in the first as Joshua Rojas connected for his second homer of the series and fourth of the series. That lead was short-lived as the Cubs used a trio of second inning hits to grab the lead. Jim Adduci continues to rake at the AAA level, picking up one-out single as he has now hit safely in 21 of his last 23 games. Robel Garcia followed that up with a single of his own, but it was Taylor Davis delivering the huge knock with a two-out run scoring double as Iowa was now in front 2-1.

The recent power surge from Donnie Dewees paid dividends in the third inning as he cracked his 11th homer of the season to extend the Cubs lead to 3-1. It was also his third homer in the last ten games as he seems to be getting back on track after a slow start to June. With a two-run lead heading to the fourth, usually Rea would be in reasonably good shape, but it was not meant to be in this one as Rea delivered his worst outing of 2019.

AJ Reed wasted no time tying things up in the fourth with a double of his own as the Express were still threatening. Chas McCormick gave them the lead for good with a Sacrifice fly as it was now a 4-3 Express lead. That lead continued to grow in the fifth courtesy of another big inning as a bases-loaded walk to Reed pushed the lead to 5-3. Garrett Stubbs would later add a single in that inning as the lead now stretched to 7-3 in favor of Round Rock. An eighth-inning single from Jack Mayfield capped off the scoring as the Cubs were unable to do much past the third inning falling 8-3.

Iowa is 42-34 but continues to flirt with the .500 mark as of late. With an abnormally short outing for Rea, it was up to the bullpen to work overtime as Duane Underwood continues to revitalize his season with two more shutout innings of relief with 1BB and 4K. Tim Collins and James Norwood also saw action in relief in this one.

Only five players in the line up recorded hits, but four of them picked up multi-hit efforts in the loss. Dewees, Adduci, Garcia, and Davis led the way as they all had two-hit afternoons. Mark Zagunis added the ninth and final hit for Iowa while Ian Happ went 0-4 with a pair of strikeouts dropping his average to .225.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 7 – Montgomery Biscuits 9: On a comfortable Sunday, the Smokies and Biscuits treated the fans to an exciting game as both offenses came to play combining for 16 runs. It was the Smokies who found themselves on the losing end of things falling to one of the best in AA 9-7.

After his recent surge in terms of successful starts, Thomas Hatch was roughed up in this failure to make it out of the fifth inning while allowing 8R in the process. It wasn’t all him; however, as the defense didn’t make things easy as Hatch was only charged with 3ER making his line much more respectable.

With Jhonny Pereda giving the Smokies a quick 1-0 lead in the second, Montgomery responded with a pair of runs in the third as a Josh Lowe single and Tristan Gray triple made things a 2-1 Biscuits lead. That was when the Smokies bats came to life as they retook to the lead in dominating fashion with a huge bottom of the third inning.

Four batters into the bottom of the third, the Smokies had the bases loaded as Gioskar Amaya, P.J. Higgins and Ian Rice all picked up one-out singles. Vimael Machin managed to bring the game even 2-2 converting an out to a run with a sacrifice fly as the Smokies still had plenty of pressure on the bases. Following the Charcer Burks walk to load the bases once again, Jesse Hodges delivered the knockout blow with his second homer of the season as the Grand Slam made it 6-2 Smokies after three.

Much like their first lead in the game, it was short lived as Montgomery responded in the fourth with a huge inning of their own. With a fielding error leading things off, the Biscuits had a pair of runners on base following a one-out walk to Rene Pinto. Jermaine Palacios singled a few pitches later to make it 6-3, but with two outs Hatch was on the verge of getting out of the jam with limited damage.

That was not meant to be however as Lowe added to his already good game with a bases-clearing double to bring things within one at 6-5. Two pitches later it was Kevin Padlo getting in on the fun as his 10th homer of the season gave the Biscuits the lead once again 7-6. The Smokies responded with a run in the bottom half of the fourth on an Amaya double to tie things up 7-7 but were unable to push any further runs across leaving the door open for Montgomery.

A fifth-inning sacrifice fly from Palacios proved to be the winning run as Montgomery was in front once again 8-7. Unlike their previous two leads, the Biscuits were able to add to that in the top of the eighth as Padlo lofted another sacrifice fly to push the lead to 9-7. In desperate need of runs late, only Connor Myers was able to reach base with a single as the Smokies fell to Montgomery 9-7.

They are now 34-39 and are starting to look as if they will fall too far out of contention in the second half. Hodges provided the thunder in this one, picking up 3H with the Grand Slam to lead the offense. A pair of hits from both Burks and Amaya added what was a solid day offensively with five others picking up one hit. After starting most of the season, Oscar De La Cruz is now working from the bullpen as he allowed 1ER in two innings of relief. Michael Rucker was rock solid in his outing, tossing 2 2/3 scoreless frames despite battling some command issues.

MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 2 – Fayetteville Woodpeckers 3: What will it take for the Pelicans to get a win? That is the question everyone in the organization may be asking as once again; another hard-fought effort leads to a 3-2 defeat. On the mound for the Pelicans was Alexander Vargas who fell to 1-2 despite his great outing. In six innings, Vargas allowed 3ER on 6H to go with 4K. His ERA is sitting at 3.14 for the season as he continues to showcase his talents.

It took three innings of at-bats for Fayetteville to break through first as Michael Papierski went deep for his fifth of the season and 1-0 lead. That lead was short lived as it was the Pelicans turn to get the offense going in the bottom of the third when Jimmy Herron led things off with a single. After a ground out moved Herron into scoring position, Zach Davis kept the inning going with another single to make it 1-1 before stealing second (25) and later advancing to third on the passed ball. Davis was stranded at third as the Pelicans wasted a chance for more runs.

The long ball continued to be the offensive strategy for the Woodpeckers as they got right back to work in the fourth. With one down, Chandler Taylor earned a walk, before putting himself in scoring position with a steal. Now with two outs and in danger of stranding a runner, Marty Costes took Vargas deep for his third homer of the season and just like that it was 3-1 Fayetteville. That score would remain intact until the bottom of the sixth when Cam Balego went deep for his seventh of the year making it a 3-2 ballgame.

Now down to a battle of the bullpens, the Woodpeckers appeared to have something cooking in both the seventh and eighth innings as they had plenty of traffic on the bases. With three baserunners total that inning, the Pelicans were able to wiggle out of multiple jams keeping things locked at 3-2. Unfortunately, it was the offense that stalled down the stretch as they were unable to push anything across the final three innings falling 3-2 to drop their record to 21-50 by far the worst in High -A ball.

With just four hits, the offense was limited in terms of chances, but it was Balego leading the way with two. Herron and Davis both added singles of their own as they were responsible for the four hits. Following Vargas on the hill was the combination of Brian Glowicki and Garrett Kelly as the duo combined to toss three shutout innings of relief.

SOUTH BEND CUBS 11 – Bowling Green Hot Rods 10: If pitching is your favorite thing about baseball, South Bend was not the place for you to be Sunday as the Cubs held off a late Hot Rods rally to hold on 11-10. Perhaps the biggest storyline oddly enough was on the pitching front in terms of starter Cam Sanders. Although Sanders lasted just 4 2/3 innings after allowing 3 ER, it was what he did following his six strikeouts that went viral as he had a special celebration for each K which has rubbed some people the wrong way.

Already with a 1-0 lead in the second following a Tyler Durna first-inning RBI single, the Cubs offense continued to keep the pedal to the metal as they were indeed ready to play. A leadoff double off the bat of Cole Roederer followed by a Jonathan Sierra single had runners on the corners with no outs. Levi Jordan kept the line moving with the third consecutive hit to start the inning making it 2-0 in the process. After Eric Gonzalez made it 3-0 with an RBI groundout, Andy Weber pushed the lead to 4-0 with a single as South Bend was in complete control.

That lead continued to grow in the third, as another considerable inning doubled their lead from four to eight runs in the blink of an eye. It was all about the extra base hits as consecutive doubles from Roederer and Sierra pushed the lead to 7-0. Gonzalez got in on the fun once again for his second RBI of the day as this time it was a single making it 8-0 through three.

Just when you thought the game was in hand, Bowling Green slowly began to chip away as things started to get interesting. Jordan Qsar homered in the fourth to get the Hot Rods on the board, but another Roederer hit in the bottom of the fourth kept things at an eighth run deficit 9-1. A pair of fifth-inning doubles from Roberto Alvarez and Grant Witherspoon brought things to 9-3 before the Hot Rods continued their comeback in the sixth.

Kevin Santiago made things a 9-5 game with his first homer of the season as the Cubs were now starting to play slightly uptight. Following a seventh-inning wild pitch to make it 9-6, a Chris Betts single and Ford Proctor eighth-inning sacrifice fly made things a 9-8 ball game as the Cubs were the ones now searching for answers.

Looking for a knockout blow, it was the middle of the order coming through in the bottom of the eighth as an error allowing Durna to reach ahead of a Sierra double pushed the lead back to three with the score now 11-8. With their backs against the wall in the ninth, the Hot Rods began to rally off Ethan Roberts as they refused to go down quietly. With a runner on second and two outs, Seaver Whalen kept the inning alive with a single to make it 11-9. Four pitches later it was Beau Brundage picking up his fifth double to cut things to 11-10 as the tying run was no standing on second.

Needing the biggest out of the game, Roberts bared down against Santiago, needing just three pitches to induce a grounder as the Cubs improve to 39-33 following an exciting 11-10 win. With 17 hits in the game, one might think the Cubs had plenty of offense from everywhere, that was the case as five players had five-hit games for the Cubs. Weber, Sierra, Durna, Jordan, and Roederer were those five players, with Moreland Gonzalez rounding out the hit’s category. Brennan Davis was 0-4 but did take a walk.

Despite earning his ninth save, Roberts ERA increased to 2.87 following his rough ninth inning. A tough stretch from Eugenio Palma helped the Hot Rods get back in the game, with Brendan King earning his second win in relief.

EUGENE EMERALDS 4 – Tri-City Dust Devils 3: With all the excitement happening back east, the Emeralds looked to deliver a little drama of their own as they faced off with the Dust Devils. With the teams deadlocked through eight, all it took was a ninth-inning wild pitch to seal the deal as the Emerald's walk-off Tri-city 4-3.

Unlike the rest of the minor league levels, Short Season A-Ball is all about development as many teams use the piggyback pitching strategy. The Emeralds once again put that into effect on Sunday as Didier Vargas opened the game with three innings of one-run ball before turning it over to Maikel Aguiar who allowed 2ER in 2 innings. The hero of the game in terms of pitching was Fauris Guerrero, as he tossed three no-hit innings to give the Emeralds a chance late.

Scoreless through two, Nick Gatewood put the Dust Devils in front first as his third inning single made it a 1-0 game. As most good teams do, Eugene battled back in the bottom of third using a pair of walks to start the inning off on the right foot. What looked to be a harmless sac bunt from Fernando Kelli turned into gold as an error on the play loaded the bases with no outs. Luis Vazquez tied things up shortly after taking one for the team, three straight strikeouts to follow that ended the threat with Eugene stranding three.

Tri-City was able to grab the lead once again this time in the fifth inning as Jason Pineda delivered with a clutch double to make it 3-1 Dust Devils. Just like in the third, the Emeralds battled back to draw even as Kelli connected for his first homer of the season making it a 3-3 game. With the game still tied in the ninth, it was down to the Emeralds to seal the deal in regulation as extra innings was the last thing on their minds.

With that mindset in place, it was Kelli in the middle of the action once again as a one-out single gave the Emeralds the go-ahead baserunner. Kelli would later steal second before advancing to third on a force out. With two down on runners on second and third, it was the Emeralds getting the last laugh as Deacon Medders uncorked a wild pitch allowing Kelli to score to give Eugene the 4-3 win.

At 6-4, the defending champs are off to a solid start as they have taken everyone’s best shot thus far. Kelli had a massive night at the plate, collecting three hits with a pair of RBIs’ before scoring the winning run. He is now hitting .333 for the year. Only Yonathan Perlaza and Rafael Mejia picked up the remaining hits getting one apiece in the win. Edmond Americaan went 0-4.

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Tags: Colin Rea, Jim Adduci, Robel Garcia, Taylor Davis, Duane Underwood, James Norwood, Mark Zagunis, Ian Happ, Thomas Hatch, Jhonny Pereda, Gioskar Amaya, Ian Rice, Vimael Machin, Charcer Burks, Jesse Hodges, Connor Myers, Oscar De La Cruz, Michael Rucker, Alexander Vargas, Zach Davis, Cam Balego, Brian Glowicki, Garrett Kelly, Cam Sanders, Tyler Durna, Cole Roederer, Jonathan Sierra, Levi Jordan, Eric Gonzalez, Andy Weber, Ethan Roberts, Eugenio Palma, Brendan King, Maikel Aguiar, Fauris Guerrero, Fernando Kelli, Luis Vazquez, Yonathan Perlaza
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