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Chicago Cubs Minor League Wrap: September 22

The Smokies keep their season alive with a well-timed long ball and some terrific bullpen pitching. Iowa loses a long one.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Chicago Cubs
Chase Strumpf
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

We start with the playoff teams, as always, and there is one team that is still fighting for a championship.

Tennessee Smokies

The Tennessee Smokies burned the Rocket City Trash Pandas (Angels), 4-2. The win ties the best-of-three series at one win each.

The Smokies scored first in the third inning when center fielder Zach Davis walked, stole second and then stole third. The next batter, right fielder Yonathan Perlaza, doubled him home from third.

But Smokies starter Ben Brown couldn’t hold the lead. In the bottom of the third, Angels first-round pick Zach Neto hit a solo home run to tie the game. Then in the fourth inning, Brown hit Logan O’Hoppe to to start the frame. After a wild pitch sent O’Hoppe to second, Brown gave up a single to left field that Cole Roederer booted. O’Hoppe then tried to score, but Roederer recovered in time and threw a strike to the plate to keep the score tied.

But the Trash Pandas would take a 2-1 lead after the next hitter in the lineup, Ryan Aguilar, singled to left again and this time Roederer’s throw would not beat the runner. Brown then loaded the bases with two walks and it looked like Rocket City was going to blow the game open. But Bailey Horn was summoned from the bullpen and he ended the threat with a strikeout.

Second baseman Chase Strumpf gave the Smokies the lead with a three-run home run in the top of the sixth.

The Smokies 4-2 lead wouldn’t appear to be safe because Tennessee’s bullpen had struggled in the second half of the season. But Horn, Blake Whitney and Zac Leigh came up big when it was needed the most. They combined for 5.1 innings of scoreless relief. The only hit they allowed was a double off of Leigh with two outs in the ninth.

Brown’s final line was two runs on three hits over 3.2 innings. He walked three, hit one batter and struck out six.

Horn got the win. He pitched 2.1 innings and walked two and struck out five.

Whitney was even better, retiring all six batters he faced over two innings. Whitney struck out three.

Leigh got the save. He allowed one baserunner, the two-out double. He struck out two.

Strumpf was 2 for 4 with the three-run home run.

Roederer went 2 for 3 with a walk. He scored on Strumpf’s home run.

Here’s Strumpf’s home run.

The decisive game three of the Southern League North Division playoffs will take place on Friday at 6:35 Central time in Madison, Alabama.

Iowa Cubs

The Iowa Cubs were outlasted by the Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals), 5-4 in 13 innings.

Cayne Ueckert was the “opener” in tonight’s game. It was his first career start. Ueckert allowed one run on two hits and three walks over 1.1 innings. Ueckert struck out two and also hit one batter.

Bryan Hudson took over for Ueckert with two on and one out. He got out of that jam, but gave up a run in the third inning. His final line was one run on two hits over 2.2 innings. Hudson walked one and struck out four.

Danis Correa gave up a run in the bottom of the eighth, but otherwise the I-Cubs bullpen did not give up another run until Brendan Little allowed two runs in the bottom of the 13th to end the game. Little’s final line was two runs, one earned, on three hits over 1.1 innings. Little walked two and struck out no one.

The three runs that the I-Cubs scored in regulation all came on home runs in the fourth inning. Right fielder Alexander Canario blasted his 35th home run on the year to lead off the fourth. Then center fielder Narciso Crook gave Iowa a 3-2 lead with a two-run home run, his 19th on the season.

Canario finished the night going 1 for 4 and he was hit by a pitch. Canario now has four home runs in Triple-A.

Crook went 2 for 5 and also doubled.

Christian Donahue singled home a run in the top of the 13th. It was his only at-bat of the game.

Iowa managed just five hits in this 13-inning contest.

Here are the two home runs.