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Chicago Cubs Minor League Playoff Wrap: September 3

Two games, two wins for Daytona and Boise.

Dan Vogelbach
Dan Vogelbach
Jason Zenda

First off, if you haven't seen the ESPN E:60 story about Matt Szczur, you need to go watch it now. Don't worry, the recap will still be here when you get back. Szczur and his Smokies teammates will take on Birmingham on Thursday.

Also, congratulations to Kyle Hendricks, who was your choice for the BCB Pitcher of the Month for August! With Baez and Hendricks as your choices, for the first time you disagreed with both of the Cubs "official" choices, which were Kris Bryant and Pierce Johnson. (Personally, if I actually voted, I would have voted for Bryant and Hendricks.)

Now, on to the fun stuff, and it was fun.

Daytona Cubs

The Daytona Cubs grounded the Dunedin Blue Jays, 6-1 to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three series.

This game promised to be a pitching duel between new Cubs pitcher Corey Black and former Cubs farmhand Austin Bibens-Dirkx. For five innings, that's what happened. Black shutout Dunedin for five innings before exiting after allowing a leadoff single in the sixth. Black surrendered five hits and issued one walk. He struck out seven.

Bibens-Dirkx was almost as good. He allowed a leadoff double in the bottom of the first to right fielder Pin-Chieh Chen, who went to third on a fly out and scored on a wild pitch. After the Chen double, Bibens-Dirkx only allowed two more singles through five innings and he erased both of them with double plays. But after facing only one over the minimum through five, Bibens-Dirkx walked Wes Darvill to lead off the sixth and then Elliot Soto executed a perfect hit and run to put runners on the corners. Bibens-Dirkx exited, and the next two batters, Chen and Zeke DeVoss both walked to make the score 2-0.

After Dustin Geiger struck out, the next batter was Dan Vogelbach, who hit a groundball that the Dunedin second baseman muffed to make it 3-0. Then Kris Bryant hit a two-run single to make it 5-0 and the rout was on.

Chen was 1 for 3 with a double, a walk and two runs scored. Bryant went 2 for 3 with a walk and the two RBI.

Because this is the Florida State League, the start of this game was delayed 1:56 because of rain.

The teams now travel to Dunedin for game two tomorrow night. The Cubs have not yet announced their starting pitcher for game two.

Boise Hawks

The Boise Hawks capped the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Giants), 3-0 to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three series.

This game was all about Boise's pitching, which held the Volcanoes to only three hits. Starter Paul Blackburn had the best game of his career, going seven innings and allowing only two hits. Blackburn just pounded the strike zone as he struck out eight and didn't walk anyone.

Zack Godley threw the final two innings for the save. He issued a two-out walk in the eighth and a leadoff single in the ninth, but neither runner left first base.

All of Boise's damage was done by the top three hitters in the lineup. Center fielder Kevin Encarnacion led off the bottom of the first with a single and scored after Salem-Keizer right fielder Brian Ragira made an error on a double by second baseman Danny Lockhart. The error also put Lockhart on third and he scored on a sacrifice fly by right fielder Yasiel Balaguert.

Boise's other run came in the seventh inning when Encarnacion, Lockhart and Balaguert hit consecutive singles.

Encarnacion was 3 for 4 with two runs scored. Lockhart was 2 for 4 with one run. Balaguert was 3 for 3 with the sac fly.

The teams leave for Salem-Keizer tonight to play game two tomorrow night. Duane Underwood will take the mound for Boise. He'll be opposed by Salem-Keizer's Chris Johnson.