Down on the Farm: 1-2 record, P.J. Higgins impressive, Iowa postponed, more

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

For the third consecutive night, the Cubs farmhands struggled across the board as the team limped to a 1-2 record. The weather was an issue in some cases, but it was horrible pitching from a couple of levels that made things tough for the farm system to overcome.

IOWA CUBS vs. New Orleans Baby Cakes: Postponed

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 7 – Birmingham Barons 3: After two days off, one scheduled off day and one postponement, the Smokies were back on the diamond as they looked to kick off their road trip with a bang. The Smokies wasted no time and continued to pick up where they left off at home disposing of the Barons 7-3.

Tyson Miller got the start in this one and was near perfect in his outing. Although lasting just five innings, Miller couldn’t have pitched much better surrendering one walk and allowing one hit to go with his six strikeouts in the game. Despite some struggles from Michael Rucker in his two innings of work, the Smokies build a big enough early lead which was more than plenty to secure the win.

It was the P.J. Higgins show early as he was on a mission in this one. Higgins opened up the scoring in the second as his single put Tennessee up 1-0. Looking to extend the lead in the fourth, Higgins stepped up to the plate again with a pair of runners on base. Once again, he came through as this hit proved to be the eventual game winner with a homer to left center field putting the Smokies in front 4-0.

The best thing that happened that to the Barons was when Miller was yanked after five near-flawless innings of work on the mound. Birmingham made Tennessee pay for that decision immediately in the seventh as they clawed right back into the ballgame. A Yermin Mercedes home run followed by a Mitch Roman triple a couple of batters later brought things to a one-run game at 4-3.

Looking to deliver the knockout out blow, the Smokies offense came to bat one last time in the ninth inning. Already with a runner in scoring position, Christian Donahue bunted Roberto Cano to third, but an error on pitcher Danny Dopico allowed Cano to score moving Donahue to second and Connor Myers scoring from second on the same play. Jared Young would then single home Donahue for the final tally as Tennessee improves to 4-1 following their 7-3 win
and remain in first place by 1.5 games.


MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 0 – Down East Wood Ducks 7: The struggles continued for the Pelicans on Wednesday as the Wood Ducks had their way with Myrtle Beach rolling to the 7-0 victory. Looking to bounce back from his first start of the season, Alex Lange struggled yet again lasting just a 1 1/3 before getting the hook. If it wasn’t for Ryan Kellogg and his four-plus strong innings of relief, this game could have been way worse.

The Pelicans not only fell behind early but fell back by a large margin leaving themselves in a hole too big to recover from. In the second inning, Lange couldn’t command any of his pitches as he had to work around traffic throughout the inning. Unfortunately for him, the traffic came around to score as a Yonny Hernandez single, Eric Jenkins squeeze play and Ryan Dorow double forced Lange out of the game with the Pelicans trailing 4-0 after two.

Kellogg was able to come in and hold things right where they were for a majority of his outing with his lone blemish coming in the sixth when Melvin Novoa singled home a run to push the lead to 5-0. Already with the game seemingly in hand, the Wood Ducks continued to pile on as they looked for more runs late. Look no further than Yanio Perez who cranked a two-run homer in the eighth for the final runs in the 7-0 defeat for the Pelicans.
Myrtle Beach was near nonexistent on offense as they picked up just four hits and five total base runners. Jimmy Herron, Carlos Sepulveda, Kevonte Mitchell, and Miguel Amaya all collected one hit with Jhonny Bethancourt earning the lone base on balls for the game. With the loss, the Pelicans fall to 1-6 and are four games behind Carolina for first.


SOUTH BEND CUBS 4 – Great Lakes Loons 9: Things have not gone according to plans away from South Bend as the Cubs haven’t been able to find that same groove, they had at home to start the year. Despite a 1-3 record on the road to begin the season, South Bend has been competitive in all of those games with all of them seemingly decided by one hit.

That all changed Wednesday night for the Cubs as they not only dropped another game to the Loons, but it was the first time they were truly handled this season falling to Great Lakes 9-4. Don’t let that score fool you, however, as things were back and forth early despite a rough outing from Derek Casey on the hill and a bullpen that seemingly couldn’t retire many hitters.

South Bend managed to strike first after a scoreless first opening the scoring in the second inning. With runners on the corners, Rafael Narea faked out the Loons defense with a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt scoring Rafelin Lorenzo from third and moving Tyler Durna to second. That lead was short-lived from the Cubs as the Loons erupted in the bottom half of the second. Consecutive RBI singles from Dillon Paulson and Hunter Feduccia added with an error from Narea gave the Loons a 3-1 lead after two.

Durna tied things up 3-3 in the top of the fifth with a two-run single before Great Lakes retook the lead in the bottom half of that inning 4-3 courtesy of a Miguel Vargas sac-fly. The back and forth tilt continued into the top half of the sixth as South Bend had another runner in scoring position. This time it was Andy Weber coming through with a single as the game was tied yet again 4-4.

That would be as close as the Cubs would get with Feducci and James Outman picking up RBI’s in the bottom half of the sixth to give the Loons the lead for good 6-4. Great Lakes was not done offensively, however, as they continued to pile on in the seventh. Paulson stretched the lead to 7-4 with his double before another Feduccia double made things 8-4. Drew Avans capped off the scoring with a sacrifice fly to send the Cubs home with the 9-4 defeat.
The Cubs did manage to pick up 12 hits in the game with Durna and Nelson Velazquez each collecting three while Rafelin Lorenzo and Weber each added a pair. The loss is the Cubs fourth loss in five games as they fall to 3-4 and now two games back of Fort Wayne for first in the division.


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