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Cubs Minor League Wrap -- April 14

Lots of scoring in New Mexico, and a big (cold) day for a little guy in Peoria.

Iowa Cubs

Remember how I said yesterday that games in Albuquerque are like playing in a pinball machine? How Isotopes Park is "Coors Field on Steroids"? Today was what I was talking about. Because in a defensive struggle, the Iowa Hawkeyes beat the New Mexico Lobos 14-7. Oh wait. That was the Iowa Cubs beating the Albuquerque Isotopes, 14-7. It sure seemed like a football score.

As you can imagine, the Iowa pitching staff got roughed up by the altitude tonight, albeit not nearly as bad as the Isotope staff did. Mitch Atkins got the start and lasted only four innings, allowing all seven runs on eight hits and two walks. Atkins struck out six. But as I said, just having the guts to pitch in Albuquerque should count for something.

After Atkins though, the bullpen was quite good. Greg Reinhard got the win with two shutout innings of relief. He gave up two hits, walked one and struck out two. Jason Waddell, Justin Berg and Chad Fox each threw a shutout inning in relief to close out the game.

Aided by the altitude or not, first baseman Jake Fox is on a roll to start the season. Fox had two home runs tonight by the third inning. Overall, Fox was 4 for 5 with a double, three runs scored and five RBI. Through six games this season, Fox is hitting .545 with 3 HRs and 13 RBI. He is not, however, playing third base, for those who are wondering.

Center fielder Sam Fuld showed why he's not just another pretty face as he came a HR short of the cycle. Fuld was 3 for 5 with three runs scored and three RBI. Left fielder So Taguchi went 4 for 6 with 3 RBI and a run scored. Catcher Mark Johnson was 2 for 4 with a walk and three runs scored.

A few other I-Cubs had two hits tonight--they were tearing the cover off the ball. But then again, it was Albuquerque.

Tennessee Smokies

I suspect that Ryne Sandberg took the whole team to Dollywood for their off day.

Daytona Cubs

Daytona was grounded by the Dunedin Blue Jays, 8-6.

James Leverton had a rough start tonight as he got pounded for five runs on six hits and four walks over only 3.2 innings. He managed to fan two Blue Jays before exiting.

Leverton still didn't get the loss, however, because Daytona would tie the game in the fifth inning at five. The loss went to Craig Muschko, who was credited with allowing two runs on a hit and a walk over two innings. But both runners scored after he had left the game and Dustin Sasser allowed a two-run triple. Sasser got the blame for one run over 1.1 innings.

Stephen Vento pitched well. He threw two shutout innings, allowing two hits, striking out three and walking none.

First baseman Russ Canzler was 2 for 4 with two runs scored.

Peoria Chiefs

The Chiefs swept a double header from the Dayton Dragons this afternoon by identical 5-4 scores. The games were played in 38 degree temperature, which was the fourth coldest day in O'Brien Field history.

In the first game, Jeff Beliveau put the Chiefs in a hole early. Beliveau allowed four runs, three earned, in three innings. He got touched for six hits while walking one and striking out two.

Reliever Mike Perconte, on the other hand, would have been perfect over three innings if not for a Junior Lake error. He struck out one and was credited with the win. Erik Hamren got his first save of the year with a perfect seventh inning.

The story of the double-header was little 5'8" Tony Campana, who was 3 for 4 with a run scored in the first game with two stolen bases. He then went 2 for 4 with another stolen base in the second game. Campana scored twice and had two RBI total for the double header.

Ryan Flaherty played second base in both games and was 2 for 2 with a double and a walk in the first game. He also had two RBI in game one. In the second game, Flaherty was 1 for 2 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored.

In the second game the Chiefs fell behind early again as starter Marcus Hatley allowed two runs over two innings. Hatley pitched in a lot of trouble as he allowed five hits and a walk. He struck out one.

Kevin Kreier, on the other hand, came on in relief to start the third inning and pitched three innings of shutout baseball. Kreier allowed two hits, no walks and struck out one.

The seventh inning (and for those who don't know, minor league double-header games are seven innings long) provided some high drama for the Chief fans who braved the cold. Ryan Buchter entered the game with the Chiefs leading 5-2 with one out and men on first and second. He then walked three batters in a row without retiring anyone to make the score 5-4. Jose Piña then came into the game and got a pop up and a ground out to end the game and record his first save of the season.