Down on the Farm: Kane County Cougars split doubleheader, Smokies rally late


The Tennessee Smokies struck luck late and the Iowa Cubs dropped a 10-1 blowout Wednesday night, the Daytona Cubs were postponed and the Kane County Cougars played a doubleheader in Peoria.

Minor League action will very soon become even more exciting, with the announcement that first-round pick Kyle Schwarber has signed (for significantly under-slot) and will be joining the Short Season Class-A Boise Hawks for their opener this Friday.

Triple-A Final: Fresno Grizzlies (Giants) 10, Iowa Cubs 1

After throwing a gem last time out, Iowa starter Chris Rusin allowed seven earned runs on nine hits in just three innings to put the I-Cubs in an early hole.

The bullpen seemed to turn a corner after Rusin`s departure, with Jeffry Antigua and Zac Rosscup combining for four shutout innings, but then the Grizzlies tacked on with three runs off Yoanner Negrin in the eighth to put the final nail in the coffin.

While the Cubs` pitching was blasted Wednesday night, Fresno`s staff was as strong as ever, with starter Chris Heston tossing six innings of one-run ball on six hits to help seal the blowout.

Double-A Final:Tennessee Smokies 3, Mississippi Braves 2

The Smokies were handed a stroke of luck in the eighth inning with the winning run scoring on a wild pitch. It wasn`t all luck, however, as the Tennessee pitching was strong all throughout. Starter Eduardo Figueroa allowed just two runs on three hits over five frames, Tony Zych and P.J. Francescon combined for three scoreless while punching out two out of the bullpen, and 6’4″ right-hander Armando Rivero struck out two in a scoreless ninth for the save.

Rivero is a name to watch for the 2015 bullpen, or even possibly this year, as the 26-year-old owns a 1.71 ERA with 49 strikeouts and 15 walks in 31.2 innings this season.

After scoring two in the first inning courtesy of a Kris Bryant RBI single and a wild pitch, the Smokies held an early 2-1 lead. The Braves would tie up up with a David Rohm RBI groundout in the second, setting up an eighth inning Smokies rally.

With one out in the eighth, Smokies` Anthony Giansanti reached on an error, then one out later reached third on a single from Bryant. With men on the corners and two away, Braves` reliever Ryne Harper fired one wild, bringing home the winning run on a wild pitch.

Class-A Final (Game One): Peoria Chiefs (Cardinals) 2, Kane County Cougars 1

The Cubs-Cardinals rivalry spread down to Class-A ball Wednesday night, with a split, seven-inning doubleheader to be played after Tuesday`s series opener was postponed. The Chiefs` starter, promising right-hander Alex Reyes, tossed a gem to shut down the Cougars, going the distance with seven innings pitched, allowing just one run on two hits while striking out seven in a wonderful outing.

The Cougars also got a nice performance on the hill from 6-foot-5 right-hander Tyler Skulina, throwing five innings while punching out three, but was also quite a bit unlucky in this one, with the two runs on the night being unearned after an error in the fourth.

In that fourth frame, the Chiefs caught a lucky break as Cougars` shortstop Carlos Penalver threw one away to allow a run to score right away, then Carson Kelly proceeded to capitalize on the miscue with the game-winning RBI single.

Class-A Final (Game Two): Kane County Cougars 4, Peoria Chiefs (Cardinals) 3 

The Cougars came back to life with a late inning comeback victory to split the doubleheader. The Cougars received a nice effort on the mound from talented right-hander Daury Torrez, who finished with just three earned runs allowed on just four hits over six innings to set his team up with a nice opportunity to climb back.

And that`s just what they did, as after scoring just one run off Chiefs` starter Chase Brookshire in five innings, the Cougars scored one in the sixth on a Tim Saunders RBI double, then took the 4-3 lead in the final inning thanks to a throwing error by the pitcher Steven Sabatino which scored a run and led to the game-winning sacrifice fly courtesy of Jordan Hankins salvage at least one game from the doubleheader.