The playoff started tonight for South Bend and Myrtle Beach. So we’re going to start with them first. I also do a slightly different format for playoff games.
South Bend Cubs
The South Bend Cubs creamed the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Twins), 2-1. They now lead the best-of-three series one game to none.
The Kernels took an early lead in the top of the first inning when catcher Pat Winkel homered to right field off of Cubs starter Luis Devers. But after that, the Cubs pitching staff kept Cedar Rapids in check.
Meanwhile, South Bend couldn’t do much of anything off of Kernels pitcher David Festa, who gave up just two hits over six innings, didn’t walk anyone and struck out ten Cubs.
Things began to look up in the eighth inning. In the top of the frame, reliever Riley Martin got into trouble when he put runners on first and second on a single and a walk with just one out. But second baseman Fabian Pertuz made a terrific play to start a double play and end the inning with the Kernels clinging to a one-run lead.
Left fielder Yohendrick Pinango led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a shallow pop that landed in no-man’s land between second, center and right field. Pinango was hustling off the bat and ended up with a bloop double.
The next batter, catcher Pablo Aliendo, bunted to move the tying run to third, but an error on Kernels pitcher Bobby Milacki scored Pinango and allowed Aliendo to go to second. After Kevin Made bunted Aliendo to third, Pertuz singled Aliendo home to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead.
Jake Reindl was summoned from the pen to get the save, and Reindl struck out the side in order to seal the win.
Devers went six innings and surrendered five hits and the one run. He struck out four and walked two.
Michael McAvene pitched the seventh inning and allowed one hit. He struck out two and walked no one.
Martin got the win after pitching the eighth. He struck out one.
Pinango went 2 for 3 with the double.
South Bend had just five hits in this game and they didn’t walk at all. But they managed to score those two runs and win the game.
Game two will be played in Cedar Rapids on Thursday as well as a game three on Friday, if necessary.
South Bend highlights:
Myrtle Beach Pelicans
The good news ends there as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans were bitten by the Charleston RiverDogs (Rays), 6-1.
Pelicans starter Grant Kipp gave up a solo home run in the second inning and the RiverDogs never lost that lead. Charleston tacked an additional run off of Kipp in the third inning and then they increased their lead to 3-0 with a run off of Saul Gonzalez. Both runs were driven in by Charleston DH Junior Caminero. In fact, Caminero was a thorn in the Birds wings all game, going 4 for 4 with three RBI singles.
Pelicans center fielder Kevin Alcantara provided the only Pelicans offense tonight when he crushed a solo home run in the sixth inning to cut the RiverDogs lead to 3-1. But Charleston blew the game open in the bottom of the seventh after scoring three runs off of Pelicans reliever Johzan Oquendo.
The loss went to Kipp, who was charged with two runs on six hits over four innings. He struck out two and walked no one.
Alcantara was 2 for 4 with the home run.
Shortstop Josue Huma was 2 for 4 with a stolen base.
The best-of-three series continues in Myrtle Beach with game two on Thursday.
The Iowa Cubs lost their fifth-straight game, 5-1 to the Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals).
Starter Anderson Espinoza allowed a home run to the second hitter of the game and the I-Cubs never got back into it. Espinoza’s final line was two runs on six hits over four innings. Espinoza struck out four and walked two.
Jonathan Holder threw two scoreless innings of relief in garbage time.
Catcher John Hicks provided all of Iowa’s offense with a home run in the fourth inning. It was Hicks’ 17th home run this year. He went 1 for 4.
Iowa only had three hits tonight and second baseman Esteban Quiroz had the other two, going 2 for 3.
The Tennessee Smokies were spotted by the Chattanooga Lookouts (Reds), 6-2.
Chris Clarke started and took the loss. Clarke allowed five runs on nine hits, including two solo home runs in the second inning. Clarke did strike out seven and walk only one. He did hit one batter.
Left fielder Cole Roederer a solo home run in the fifth inning, his eighth this year and seventh with Tennessee. Four of those home runs have been in the seven games so far in September. Roederer was 1 for 4.
First baseman Bryce Ball was responsible for the Smokies other run with a solo home run in the top of the ninth. It was his 11th home run this season. Ball went 1 for 3 with a walk.
Those were the only two hits the Smokies had tonight.