Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 09/12/11

Special Playoff Edition

One out of the playoffs, one in the championship series, and one crowned the champion. That’s how things went this week in the Cubs’ farm system, as Boise, Daytona, and Tennessee all started on the post-season road. Among the excellent performances were those turned in by Reggie Golden, Matt Szczur, Elliot Soto, Frank Del Valle, Jae-Hoon Ha, Rebel Ridling, and Josh Vitters.

To find out how each team did, including the new champions of the Florida State League, along with news and notes … take a look as this special edition of the Down on the Farm Report.

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks
Boise received a jolt on Monday, as they were no-hit for five innings in route to a 6-0 loss to Tri-City. Jose Rosario was given the start and allowed four runs (three earned) in four innings. Dustin Fitzgerald followed by giving up two earned runs in three innings of work. Colin Richardson held the Dust Devils, pitching two scoreless innings, but the damage had been already done. The offense managed only four hits, as Ryan Cuneo was 2-for-4 while Wilson Contreras had a double.

The Hawks were bounced from the Northwest League playoffs on Tuesday, as they bowed to Tri-City 9-1. Joe Zeller got the start and allowed five runs (four earned) in 3.1 innings. Andrew McKirahan did his best to keep Boise in the game, tossing 2.1 scoreless innings and striking out three batters. Hector Mayora was tagged with an unearned run in 1.1 innings, while Tony Zych yielded three runs (two earned) in the final inning. Rafael Lopez was 2-for-3 with a double, while Brad Zapenas was 2-for-4. Reggie Golden provided the Hawks’ only run, a solo home run that was part of a 2-for-3 game.

High Class-A – Daytona Cubs
In what can be considered a recurring trend to end the season, the bullpen failed to hold the lead as Daytona lost to Dunedin 4-3 in ten innings on Tuesday. Dae-Eun Rhee got the call to start the playoffs for the D-Cubs and didn’t disappoint, allowing an earned run and striking out five in six innings. Aaron Kurcz ended up letting in two earned runs in an inning, but Frank Batista allowed an inherited runner to score in his two innings. Juan Serrano gave up the winning run with one out in the 10th. Jake Opitz carried the offense, going 3-for-5 with an RBI. Elliot Soto was 3-for-4 with a double, while Justin Bour was 2-for-5.

Daytona evened their series with Dunedin at 1-1 with a 3-1 victory on Wednesday. Jeffry Antigua took the hill knowing that he had to perform in order for the D-Cubs to have a chance to advance. Antigua limited the Blue Jays to one earned run over seven innings. Eduardo Figueroa went scoreless for 1.2 innings, but exited after allowing a one-out single in the ninth. Frank Del Valle then came in and induced a game ending double play.

Daytona managed only five hits, but got them when it counted as Elliot Soto’s single in the second drove in Taiwan Easterling with the game’s first run. Evan Crawford scored on Justin Bour’s sacrifice fly in the third. Matt Szczur added insurance in the sixth by delivering a “Moonshot” home run.

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The D-Cubs advanced in the Florida State League playoffs on Thursday with a 4-3 come from behind win over Dunedin. Matt Loosen was given the task of moving Daytona along in the post-season, and he responded with seven strikeouts and an earned run in six innings. P.J. Francescon gave the Blue Jays a 3-0 lead after allowing two earned runs in 1.2 innings. Jordan Latham got them out of the eighth with no further damage, and then turned the game over to Frank Batista. This time, Batista was up to the task, shutting Dunedin out to secure the win.

The Daytona offense didn’t get going until the bottom of the eighth inning. Michael Brenly started with a bunt single. Evan Crawford (2-for-4) singled and Logan Watkins walked to load the bases. A Matt Cerda (3-for-4) single brought home Brenly, and a Justin Bour single plated Crawford. A sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Greg Rohan brought Watkins home. Abner Abreu (2-for-4) then singled to load the bases again. A Matt Szczur single scored Abreu.

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On Friday, Daytona went one-up in the FSL championship against the St. Lucie Mets with a 3-1 victory. Casey Harman was tapped to open the series, and delivered four innings with only one earned run. Yoannis Negrin followed with nearly the same result, four innings of scoreless baseball while striking out three Mets. Frank Batista now seems to have his Mojo back, as he closed down St. Lucie with two strikeouts in the ninth.

Elliot Soto continued his hot playoff run by driving in two of the D-Cubs’ runs. Chad Noble’s double was responsible for the other RBI. Justin Bour was 3-for-4, while Michael Burgess was 2-for-3.

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Daytona moved one step closer to the Florida State League championship with a 10-4 win over St. Lucie on Saturday. The score wasn’t as close as the final totals indicate, as the Mets scratched out three runs in the ninth inning off of reliever Eduardo Figueroa. Frank Del Valle was dazzling in his starting performance, striking out eight and holding St. Lucie hitless for four innings, as he tossed six shutout innings. Juan Serrano followed and allowed an earned run in 1.2 innings. Jordan Latham would bail out Figueroa by getting the game’s final out.

Del Valle received plenty of run support, as the D-Cubs staked him to a 5-0 lead before pushing across a run in the seventh, Daytona answered with five runs in the bottom of the inning to put the game out of reach. Logan Watkins (2-for-5) led off the inning with a single, while Matt Cerda reached on an error … and both scored on Justin Bour’s (2-for-4) home run. Michael Burgess (2-for-3, RBI) followed with a double, and scored on Jake Opitz’s (2-for-4, double) homer. Matt Szczur was also 3-for-4 with a double, two stolen bases, and two RBI.

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With a 4-2 victory over the St. Lucie Mets on Sunday, the Daytona Cubs are the 2011 Florida State League Champions!

The D-Cubs were not to be denied, as they pounded out 13 hits in the victory. Evan Crawford led off the game with a single and came home on Greg Rohan’s (3-for-5) RBI double. Down 2-1 to start the third inning, the scene repeated (sort of) as Matt Cerda singled and was brought in on Justin Bour’s (2-for-5) double.

Daytona then put the game out of reach in the sixth. Abner Abreu, Matt Szczur, Elliot Soto (2-for-4), and Logan Watkins (2-for-3) had consecutive singles, with Abreu scoring. Michael Brenly’s sacrifice fly plated Szczur.

Manager Buddy Bailey put the responsibility to close out St. Lucie on the shoulders of Dae-Eun Rhee, and he didn’t disappoint. After six innings, Rhee ended up allowing two earned runs and struck out five batters. Aaron Kurcz shook off a couple of recent bad performances to strike out three in two scoreless innings. Frank Batista went 1-2-3 in the ninth the put the game on ice, and started the celebration.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies
Tennessee survived a poor outing by Brooks Raley on Thursday to open the Southern League playoffs with a 9-6 victory over Chattanooga. Raley allowed five earned runs off of three home runs in 3.2 innings. Hung-Wen Chen stopped the bleeding by 1.1 scoreless innings, while Jeff Stevens cooled down the Lookouts with three strikeouts in two innings of work. Jeffrey Beliveau added a scoreless inning to set up the ninth for Rafael Dolis. Dolis began the inning with a double, a walk and a single to load the bases. He then induced a groundout that scored a run. A strikeout and a groundout ended the game.

After getting a run in the first inning, Tennessee got all the scoring they would need in a seven-run fourth inning. Josh Vitters’ two-run homer started the scoring, while Blake Lalli (2-for-5, three RBI) delivered his own two-run shot as a bookend. James Adduci went 3-for-5 with two doubles and a stolen base. Steve Clevenger was 2-for-3 with two doubles. Jae-Hoon Ha was 2-for-5 with an RBI, and Jonathan Mota drove in two runs.

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The Smokies flexed their muscles on Friday after being down 4-0 in the second inning, scoring ten unanswered runs as they took a 2-0 series lead over Chattanooga 10-4. The bottom of the second would be all of the scoring that Tennessee would need, putting up six runs. Rebel Ridling started them out with a solo home run. Singles by Steve Clevenger (2-for-4, two RBI) and Junior Lake, and an unsuccessful force attempt of Nate Samson loaded the bases.

Manager Brian Harper then made a tactical decision, pinch-hitting Nelson Perez for the struggling Ryan Searle, who drew a walk to force in a run. A balk brought in another run, and James Adduci walked to re-load the bases. Two batters later, Blake Lalli (2-for-3) stroked a bases clearing double. Jae-Hoon Ha ended up 2-for-5 for the evening, while Josh Vitters had an RBI single.

Searle lasted only two innings, giving up four earned runs, three of which came off of two home runs. Oswaldo Martinez picked up the slack by tossing three scoreless innings, striking out five batters. Kevin Rhoderick and Dan Berlind followed suit, pitching in a shutout inning apiece. Marcus Hatley blanked the Lookouts over the final two innings, striking out three in the process.

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Saturday saw Tennessee completing a series sweep of Chattanooga, as they defeated the Lookouts 7-2. The Smokies got on the board early, as a Rebel Ridling (2-for-4, four RBI) triple brought home James Adduci and Jae-Hoon Ha. Ridling scored on Josh Vitters’ sacrifice fly to make it 3-0 in the first inning. Ha scored again in the third on a force out, and Steve Clevenger singled in Blake Lalli to put the Smokies up 5-1. Starting pitcher Trey McNutt helped his own cause in the fourth with a single after a Jonathan Mota walk. Both Mota and McNutt scored on Ridling’s RBI single to end Tennessee’s scoring.

Trey McNutt completed five innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out three batters. Tennessee relievers gave up only one more hit for the rest of the game, as Hung-Wen Chen, Jeff Stevens, Jeffrey Beliveau, and Rafael Dolis each tossed a scoreless inning. Stevens struck out the side in his appearance.

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News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs called up IF D.J. LeMahieu, OF Luis Montanez, and LHP John Gaub from Iowa.

Outfielder Reggie Golden won NWL Player of the Week honors for August 29 through September 3. Golden hit .421 with a double, three home runs, nine RBI, four runs scored, and a walk in the last five games of the season.

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Quote of the Day

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