Hot Rods Clinch First Place in Eastern Division and Beat Cubs 5-4
South Bend, IN: Coming into their final regular season series of the season against the Bowling Green Hot Rods, the South Bend Cubs needed to win all four games of the series to clinch the Eastern Division second half championship. In a 5-4 opener loss, the Cubs fell to the Hot Rods and officially have finished as the second half wild card team.
It is now determined that South Bend will host Bowling Green in game one of the first round on September 4. The Cubs will then travel to Kentucky to take on the Hot Rods for game two and then game three, if necessary.
Saturday's series opener was a jam-packed preview of what the first-round matchup could be like. In a neck-and-neck battle all game long with a lot of emotion built in, the Hot Rods came out on top.
The night started with 19-year-old right-hander Kohl Franklin making his Midwest League debut. The sixth-round pick of the Chicago Cubs in 2018 impressed with a nasty mix of pitches that included a disappearing changeup. Franklin walked five batters, but at many times did not miss the strike zone by much. He also struck out three batters.
Bowling Green took a strong grasp on the game after the top of the 4th by leading 3-0. After Franklin exited, Midwest League Home Run Derby Champion Chris Betts hit his 19th home run of the season off Fauris Guerrero for the three-run advantage.
However, the Cubs were quick to battle back. Against All-Star righty Easton McGee, South Bend plated two runs in the bottom of the 4th on singles from Fidel Mejia and Gustavo Polanco. The Cubs eventually tied the game when Jake Slaughter pounded an RBI sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 5th.
South Bend smacked 15 hits on the night, but they left 14 men on base. The two clubs exchanged runs to end the middle innings and the game went to the top of the 9th. After working a scoreless top of the 8th, Eugenio Palma surrendered the eventual game winning run when Ford Proctor looped a double towards left-center field.
In the 9th, the Cubs put the tying and winning runs on base, but Joel Peguero closed out the Bowling Green victory.
With the loss, the Cubs fall to 74-61 on the season and will prepare for the final two games of the regular season on Sunday and Monday before attacking the postseason. First pitch from Four Winds Field tomorrow afternoon is set for 2:05 PM.
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Midwest League Stories from August 31, 2019
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