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Chicago Cubs Minor League Wrap: September 18

South Bend can’t hold on to a 5-0 lead and fall in game one of the Midwest League Championship Series.

BJ Murray
Chloe Trofatter / USA TODAY NETWORK

I’m glad the I-Cubs didn’t decide to wait out the storm last night like the Iowa Hawkeyes and Nevada Wolf Pack did in Iowa City. Of course, that meant a doubleheader for Iowa today.

Not good news from South Bend as they try to win another Midwest League title. Game 2 of the Midwest League Championship Series will be Tuesday at Lake County. Game 3 will be Wednesday, if necessary. Let’s hope it is necessary.

South Bend Cubs

The South Bend Cubs lost to the Lake County Captains (Guardians), 11-8. The Captains have a one-game to none lead in the best-of-three series.

South Bend burst out to a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning, thanks in large part to doubles by first baseman B.J Murray Jr., catcher Pablo Aliendo and shortstop Kevin Made.

But Cubs starter Kohl Franklin couldn’t hold the lead. He gave up a run in the third inning after a leadoff triple and then three walks. But the real damage came in the fourth inning, when Franklin gave up four singles (two of them infield singles and another one softly hit through the infield) and was pulled for Luke Little. Little finished off the five-run inning with two more singles, a walk and a balk to make it 6-5 Lake County.

The Cubs tied the game back up 6-6 with a Kevin Made solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

But Little gave the lead back up with two walks and a two-out single in the fifth inning. After that, South Bend was chasing the game the rest of the way and they could never catch up.

Lake County banged out 17 hits against South Bend and 15 of them were singles. Some of those singles were hard-hit, but a lot of them were infield singles or softly-hit balls that found holes through the infield or into the outfield. Lake County also drew nine walks and Cubs pitchers balked three times, so it wasn’t just luck that did South Bend in.

Starter Kohl Franklin went 3.1 innings and allowed five runs on seven hits. He walked three and struck out five.

Luke Little took the loss. He allowed two runs of his own (and three inherited runners to score) on three hits over 1.2 innings. Little walked four and struck out four.

On offense, Kevin Made and B.J. Murray Jr. were the heros. Made went 2 for 3 with a double and the home run. He also had a sacrifice bunt. Made walked twice and drove in two.

Murray doubled twice in a 3 for 4 game. He scored two runs.

DH Jordan Nwogu was 2 for 4 with a walk and two RBI.

Left fielder Yohendrick Pinango was 2 for 4 with a stolen base. Pinango drove in two runs and scored one.

Pablo Aliendo went 2 for 4 with the RBI double in the second inning. Aliendo scored twice.

Iowa Cubs

The Iowa Cubs were swept in a doubleheader by the Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals), 8-4 in the continuation of yesterday’s game and 3-1.

Caleb Kilian started game one yesterday and tossed three innings before the rains came. Kilian gave up two hits and no runs. He walked two and struck out two.

Danis Correa came on to start the fourth inning today and tossed two perfect innings, striking out one.

Unfortunately, Cam Sanders started the sixth inning and he got rocked for five runs. He also pitched the seventh inning and retired the side in order thanks to a double play after a walk, but by then the damage had been done. Sanders took the loss after allowing five runs on three hits, including a two-run home run. He walked three and struck out just one.

First baseman Matt Mervis homered again, his 34th this season and 13th with Iowa. It was a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh. Mervis was 2 for 5.

Shortstop Levi Jordan led off the bottom of the ninth with a home run. It was his 13th this year and seventh with Iowa. Jordan went 2 for 3 with two walks. He scored twice.

Catcher Erick Castillo was 2 for 4.

In the seven-inning game two, starter Anderson Espinoza got the loss after he gave up three runs on three hits over 4.1 innings. Two of those three hits were solo home runs. Espinoza walked three and struck out four.

Shortstop Scott McKeon scored the only Iowa run when Narciso Crook was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. McKeon went 2 for 3 and Crook was 0 for 3.

Center fielder Darius Hill had another two-hit game, going 2 for 4.

Catcher Tyler Payne was 2 for 3 with a double.

For the 34th time this season, here’s “Mash” Mervis.

Iowa still has nine games left this season. There’s a six-game series at Omaha starting on Tuesday and then a three-game home series to close out the season against Toledo.

Tennessee Smokies

The Tennessee Smokies blinded the Chattanooga Lookouts (Reds), 11-4. The Lookouts won the six-game series, four games to two.

Richard Gallardo made his Double-A debut in this game and allowed just three hits over four innings. Unfortunately, those three hits were a solo home run in the first, a solo home run in the second and a solo home run in the third. At least they were all solos.

Gallardo’s final line was three runs on three hits over four innings. He struck out six and walked two.

The win went to Samuel Reyes, because Gallardo did not go five innings. Reyes threw two scoreless innings and surrendered just one hit. Reyes walked two and struck out four.

The Smokies jumped on Lookouts starter Sam Benschoter for four runs in the top of the first inning and never looked back. The key hit was a bases-loaded, two-run ground-rule double by left fielder Cole Roederer. Roederer was 1 for 3 with a walk. He scored once.

First baseman Nelson Maldonado hit a two-run home run in the third inning, his 12th this year and fifth with Tennessee. Maldonado went 2 for 5 and he scored twice.

Catcher Jake Washer added on a couple of insurance runs with a two-run home run in the top of the eighth. Washer also had an RBI single in the sixth. He was 2 for 4 with three RBI and two runs scored.

Center fielder DJ Artis went 2 for 3 with a two-run triple in the sixth inning. Artis also had two walks and two steals. Artis scored one run.

This was the last game of the regular season for the Smokies, who finished the second-half with a 34-34 record in the second half and a 71-66 record overall. They finished in second place in the Southern League North Division second-half standings, six games behind first place Rocket City.

However, since Rocket City won both halves, the Smokies qualified for the playoffs as the team with the second-best overall record in the division. They will be at home for game one of the best-of-three series against the Trash Pandas on Tuesday. Games two and three (if necessary) are in Madison, Alabama on Thursday and Friday.