AZL Cubs Rally for Four in 8th to Defeat A's at HoHoKam
Mixing two singles with two walks, two wild pitches, an error, a stolen base, and two sacrifice flies, the AZL Cubs scored four in the 8th to break a 1-1 tie and defeat the AZL A's 5-1 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park Sunday night in Mesa.
With the game tied at one, Blair Springfield drew a lead-off walk on a 3-2 pitch to get the Cubs 8th inning started. Speedy Vismeldy Bieneme was sent into the game as a pinch-runner, and proceeded to steal 2nd base and advance to 3rd on the catcher's E-2 overthrow. He then scored on a Wild Pitch. Cody Shields followed by reaching base on a strike out/WP, beating the throw to 1st by a step. Pin-Chieh Chen looped a single down the LF line to move Shields to 2nd base, and Elliot Soto followed by drilling an RBI single into the 5.5 hole, scoring Shields, as Chen moved up to 3rd and Soto advanced to 2nd on the throw to the plate. After Ryan Cuneo was walked intentionally to load the bases and set-up a force at any base, Anthony Giansanti and Sergio Burruel hit consecutive F-7 sacrifice flies to plate Chen and Soto with the 3rd and 4th runs of the inning.
The Cubs had previously tied the game in the bottom of the 6th on consecutive two-out singles by Chen (a line drive sliced to LF), Soto (a high chopper that the 3rd baseman could not field cleanly), and Cuneo (a rocket ground ball through the box into CF).
Two more Cubs made their pro debut tonight, and both 15th round pick (and Algonquin, IL native) SS Elliot Soto (Creighton) and 23rd round selection RHP Matt Loosen (Jacksonville U.) had a hand in the victory.
Soto (considered one of the top defensive shortstops in college baseball) had two hits (including an RBI single) and made two flashy plays at shortstop, one a rangy stop and no-look back-handed flip that started a 6-4-3 DP, and another a full-steam running pick-up and off-balance throw to 1st to nail the batter and keep the go-ahead run off base in the 8th.
Loosen got credit for the victory, throwing 1.2 IP (20 pitches -15 strikes), allowing one hit (a single) while striking out one.
2009 16th round draft pick CF Cody Shields (AU - Montgomery) also made his "official" pro debut tonight (he missed the 2009 season recovering from TJS), although he had seen a lot of action in Extended Spring Training prior to breaking his hand in an intrasquad game about a month ago.
AA Tennessee LHP Casey Lambert (2009 TJS rehab) made his second AZL rehab start tonight, throwing two innings (25 pitches - 22 strikes) and allowing one run on three hits and no walks, while striking out three. RHP Eduardo Figueroa followed Lambert with five innings of one-hit shutout ball, walking one while striking out five (by far the best he's looked in his two years in Mesa), and RHP Jadel Mendez relieved Matt Loosen with a runner on base and two outs in the top of the 9th, before getting a strike out (swinging) to end the game.
In AZL Cubs roster news, RHP Manolin DeLeon (2010 knee surgery) has moved up to Peoria (he was at Daytona last season), RHP Aaron Kurcz (2010 10th round pick out of the College of Southern Nevada), LHP Eric Jokisch (2010 11th round pick out of Northwestern), and INF Pierre LePage (2010 13th round pick out of the University of Connecticut) have ben promoted to Boise, RHP Jesse Ginley (2009 NDFA) has been moved down from Boise to the AZL Cubs, and 3B-1B-C Bobby Wagner (2009 38th round pick out of Panola JC) has been released. (Wagner tried to make the conversion to catcher in Extended Spring Training, but it just didn't work out).
As for the three who got their tickets punched to Boise, Kurcz may not have the stamina or repertoire to be a starter, but he does have the earmarks of a closer or 8th inning set-up man (he throws mid-90's gas), Jokisch is a polished college lefty who (if he can stay healthy) could move quickly through the system, and LePage began his pro career last week like a house afire, getting seven hits and two SB in his first two games before the promotion to Boise. (LePage struck out just three times in 278 PA at U-Conn in 2010).