Cubs Minor League News: Walk-off for I-Cubs, PCA raking, Mervis clutch, Sanders impressive

Cubs Minor League News: Walk-off for I-Cubs, PCA raking, Mervis clutch, Sanders impressive

by - Senior Writer -

DES MOINES — Prior to the start of the 2024 MILB Season, the Iowa Cubs must have had a contract in place requiring them to play a certain number of extra-inning games. That is all in good fun, but here we are four games into the season, and Iowa has been involved in three extra-inning games.

That included their home opener against the Toledo Mud Hens on Tuesday, as the Cubs were looking for better fortunes this time around. Trailing 4-1 entering the eighth, the Cubs' offense finally showed signs of life, scoring three times on three extra-base hits to tie things up 4-4 and help get things to extras. Once the extra frame started, Cam Sanders continued the trend of a dominating Cubs pen, while newcomer Curt Casali came through with a walk-off single to lift Iowa to the 5-4 win.

For the first time this season, the Cubs fell behind first, as Walker Powell didn't have his best game on the mound. The hard-throwing right-hander lasted just two innings, allowing four runs on four hits. Only one of those four runs was earned, however, as the defense did him no favors early.

Most of the damage that Powell allowed came in the first inning, where an early error opened the floodgates for what was a three-run frame for Toledo. Jace Jung opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly while the Akil Baddoo single extended the lead to 2-0. A bases-loaded walk to Dillon Dingler was the icing on the cake as Toledo took an early 3-0 lead.

Things continued to worsen from there for Powell and the Cubs as another run came across to score in the top of the fourth, giving the Mud Hens a 4-0 lead at that point. Powell was removed from the game during that third inning, which is when things turned in the Cubs favor. With Bryan Sammons doing his thing on the mound, striking out six in four strong innings, it was up to the Cubs pen to keep things close, and that they did in what was another dominating effort.

Sam McWilliams struck out three in three innings, Keegan Thompson struck out four in just over two innings, while Colten Brewer and Sanders added four more strikeouts over the final two frames as the Cubs bullpen held the Mud Hens scoreless for eight innings. With the Owen Caissie RBI single in the third, the lone run of the night for the Cubs, Iowa was in desperate need of some late-game offense that came against Beau Brieske in the eighth inning.

What started with a walk to Casali quickly turned into a 4-2 game, as Pete Crow-Armstrong hit his second RBI triple of the season.

PCA came around to score on the Alexander Canario double, and just like that, it was a 4-3 game. Canario has been squaring up the ball all season thus far, as that double left his bat at 109 MPH.

In danger of stranding the tying run at second, it was the forgotten Matt Mervis coming through and picking the perfect time to play the hero. After striking out two times earlier in the game, Mervis nearly put the Cubs in front 5-4, but had to settle for the game-tying double off the wall and helped push things into extras.

It didn't take Iowa long to capitalize on the momentum they already gained, with Sunday's hero Jake Slaughter starting the bottom half of the 10th off with a gift single and putting runners on the corners with no outs. Slaughter would eventually move to second on a defensive indifference, setting the stage for the newest Cub Casali. Casali, the oldest player on the Iowa roster, did what a veteran should do as he laced a ground ball into right field and brought home the winning run in the Cubs' walk-off 5-4 win.

Casali led the Iowa offense from start to finish, picking up two hits and reaching base four times in the win.

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