Two-Out 9th Inning Magic Saves the Day for I-Cubs at Fitch
Jason Vosler hammered an opposite-field game-tying two-run double off the LF fence with two out in the top of the 9th and Ian Rice followed with a two-run home run over the left-centerfield fence to give the Cubs a two-run lead, and then Ryan McNeil converted the save (albeit allowing a run and stranding the potential game-tying run on base in the bottom of the 9th), as the Iowa Cubs (AAA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) rallied to edge the Nashville Sounds (AAA affiliate of the Oakland Athletics) 6-5 on Field #4, and Jesse Hodges belted a two-run HR over the LF fence onto Center Street to give the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs AA affiliate) a 2-0 lead in the top of the 2nd, but Skye Bolt belted an RBI triple and scored, singled, and walked, as the Midland RockHounds (A's AA affiliate) plated four runs over the next seven innings en route to a 4-2 victory on Field #3, in Cactus League Minor League doubleheader action Monday afternoon at the Lew Wolff Training Complex at Fiitch Park in Mesa, AZ.
As usual, several players were moved-up from lower-levels for the day to replace Iowa and Tennessee players assigned to the Cubs MLB game roster at Goodyear.
It was a "bullpen day" for the Smokies, as five relievers vying for pen jobs at Tennessee got work. There were no stand-out eve-opening performances among the five (Pugliese, Skulina, Thorpe, Minch, and Norwood).
Meanwhile, RHSP Jordan Pries (acquired from the Seattle Mariners along with LHP Mike Montgomery for 1B Dan Vogelbach and RHSP Paul Blackburn last June) got the start for the I-Cubs, in what might be his final opportinity to win a job at AAA. It will be tough for Pries to crack the Iowa starting rotation in 2017, and his 87-88 MPH fastball and OK (but not great) off-speed stuff probably don't have a whole lot of value out of the bullpen. However, he might find a job as a SP/RP "swing-man" at Iowa if he can beat-out Casey Kelly, Seth Frankoff, Williams Perez, and/or Dallas Beeler for a AAA "utility pitcher" slot.
Veteran minor league RHRP Frank Batista saw his first game action since undergoing an elbow UCL transplant (TJS) last April, and retired the side 1-2-3 (5-3, K, F-9). The 27-year old (soon to be 28) diminutive (5'10) Batista has been around a while (he signed with the Cubs as an IFA out of the Dominican Republic in January 2009), but you could see he was stoked about his outing.
Here are the abridged box scores from the games (Cubs players only):