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Chicago Cubs Minor League Wrap: September 16

South Bend wins and advances to the title series. Iowa wins their third in a row.

MLB: MAR 22 Spring Training - Cubs at Mariners
Owen Caissie
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Everybody celebrate, because South Bend is going to the Midwest League Championship Series!

If you ask me, South Bend is going for back-to-back Midwest League title. They won the title in 2019. Of course, there was no minor league season in 2020 and in 2021, South Bend played in a league called “High-A Central.” So this is the first “Midwest League Championship Series” since the Cubs beat Clinton in 2019.

South Bend is playing at home at 6:05 Eastern time on Sunday if anyone is looking to go.

South Bend Cubs

The South Bend Cubs harvested the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Twins), 9-3. South Bend wins the three-game series, two games to one.

The Cubs jumped all over Kernels starter Orlando Rodriguez in the top of the first inning. The first three batters loaded the bases on a walk, a single and a walk and then a sacrifice fly by Owen Caissie made it 1-0. The next batter, Luis Verdugo, doubled in two more runs to make it 3-0. B.J. Murray Jr. then singled home Verdugo and Rodriguez was pulled from the game after only a third of an inning. The Cubs failed to tack on any more runs in the first, but they had a 4-0 lead that would turn out to be all they would need.

South Bend added another run in the second inning when Jordan Nwogu walked, stole second and went to third on a bad throw by the catcher and then scored on an infield error.

Pete Crow-Armstrong singled to lead off the fourth inning. He first stole second base and then he stole third. He then scored South Bend’s sixth run on Caissie’s second sacrifice fly of the game.

Meanwhile, South Bend starter Daniel Palencia turned in his best start of the season. Palencia struck out eight and walked no one over five scoreless innings. He allowed just two measly singles as he picked up the win.

Crow-Armstrong scored his third run of the game and Caissie drove in his fourth with an RBi single in the top of the sixth to make it 7-0.

The only time South Bend had to sweat in this game was in the bottom of the seventh inning when Riley Martin got into trouble. Martin loaded the bases with no outs on a single and two walks. A sacrifice fly made it 7-1 and then after the runners moved to second and third on an infielder ground out, a two-run single by Mikey Perez made it 7-3 and ended Martin’s night.

Martin finished with a line of three runs on two runs over 1.2 innings. He walked two and struck out one.

But Michael McAvene was summoned from the bullpen in the seventh and he ended the threat with one pitch and a fly out to left. He then retired the side in order in the eighth. After the SB Cubs tacked on two runs in the top of the ninth, Jake Reindl was summoned to close out the game. He retired all three batters, one by strikeout, to end the game and the series.

Crow-Armstrong went 3 for 5 with two steals and three runs scored tonight.

Caissie was 2 for 3 with a double, two sac flies and four total RBI.

Nwogu was 1 for 3 with two walks and a steal. Nwogu scored three times.

Murray was 2 for 4 with a walk and two RBI.

Catcher Pablo Aliendo was 2 for 5.

South Bend will take on the Lake County Captains (Guardians) in a best-of-three Championship Series, starting on Sunday in South Bend. Games two and three, if necessary, will be in Lake County on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Here’s the final pitch of the game and the on-field celebration:

Here’s the clubhouse celebration:

Iowa Cubs

The Iowa Cubs tagged the Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals), 7-6. It was Iowa’s third-straight win after a five-game losing streak.

Keegan Thompson started this game on a rehab assignment. Thompson gave up a one-out double to Kramer Robertson, who went to third on a ground out and scored on a wild pitch. That would be the only hit and run Thompson would allow. Thompson’s final line was one run on one hit over 2.1 innings. Thompson struck out four and walked one. He threw 45 pitches and 26 were strikes.

Kervin Castro got the win because Thompson didn’t go five innings. Castro allowed one run on one hit over 2.2 innings. He struck out four and walked no one. The one hit he allowed was a double to a rehabbing Dylan Carlson.

Dakota Mekkes gave up a run in the eighth, but he retired the side in order in the ninth and got the save. Mekkes’ final line was one run on two hits over 1.1 innings. Mekkes struck out two and walked one.

Right fielder Jackson Frazier hit a solo home run in the fourth inning, his sixth on the season. Frazier went 2 for 4.

Third baseman Esteban Quiroz cracked a solo home run in the sixth. Quiroz was 3 for 4 with three RBI.

Catcher John Hicks doubled in a run and scored as part of a four-run bottom of the first inning. Hicks went 2 for 4.

DH Alexander Canario hit his first Triple-A extra-base hit when he hit an RBI double in the bottom of the first inning. Canario went 2 for 3 and he scored one run.

First baseman Matt Mervis went 2 for 4 with one run scored.

Tennessee Smokies

The Tennessee Smokies were extinguished by the Chattanooga Lookouts (Reds), 13-12 in 13 innings.

Ben Brown started this one and allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits over four innings. Brown struck out eight and walked two.

Peyton Remy would give up five runs over three innings of relief. Kyle Johnson gave up one over his two innings.

Blake Whitney got tasked with throwing the tenth, eleventh and twelfth innings. When the Smokies scored one run in the tenth, Whitney gave up one in the bottom of the inning. When the Smokies scored three runs in the top of the 12th, Whitney gave up three runs in the bottom of the inning. His final line was four runs, one earned, on five hits over three innings. Whitney struck out six and walked four, but three of those walks were intentional.

Jake Washer got called in from first base to pitch the bottom of the 13th and took the loss. Washer allowed one unearned run on one, hit, one walk and one hit batter over one-third of an inning.

Third baseman Jake Slaughter hit a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to tie the game 8-8 and send it to extras. It was Slaughter’s 23rd home run this season and number twenty with the Smokies. Slaughter was 2 for 6 with a walk and he drove home three total runs. Slaughter also stole a base.

DH Nelson Maldonado hit a three-run home run in the top of the 12th to give the Smokies a 12-9 lead (That they couldn’t hold). Maldonado went 2 for 4 with a walk. He scored three runs and drove in four.

Center fielder Zach Davis went 2 for 4 with two walks and a steal. Zinn scored three times and had one RBI.

Catcher Harrison Wenson was 2 for 7 with a double and a stolen base. Wenson scored two runs.

Right fielder Yonathan Perlaza reached base five times with four walks and a double. He was 1 for 3 with one run scored and one RBI.

First baseman Bryce Ball fouled a ball off his ankle and had to leave the game. He walked off on his own power, but with a limp. Ball went 1 for 5 with a walk.

Left fielder Cole Roederer went 3 for 7.