Clinton wins the West, advances to MWL Championship Series

The Clinton LumberKings celebrate after winning the Western Division championship Monday. (Photo courtesy of the Clinton LumberKings)

The Clinton LumberKings partied like it was 2016 on Monday. By this time next week, they hope to party like it’s 1991.

Just as they did in 2016, the LumberKings beat the Cedar Rapids Kernels in Game 3 of the Western Division finals to advance to the Midwest League Championship Series. That was the last time Clinton reached the league finals, a series the team hasn’t won since 1991. (That’s the longest championship drought in the MWL.)

The LumberKings got off to an early 3-0 lead by plating three runs in the top of the 1st inning. They doubled their run output by the end of the game, winning 6-2.

Kameron Misner scored three of Clinton’s runs, despite not reaching base on a hit. Bubba Hollins had two hits and two RBI. Will Banfield and Evan Edwards each had two hits and one RBI. LumberKings leadoff man Christopher Torres had two hits, two walks and a stolen base.

Wander Javier had three hits for the Kernels. Gabe Snyder and Tyler Webb each drove in a Cedar Rapids run.

The LumberKings will face the Eastern Division champion South Bend Cubs in the MWL finals, beginning Wednesday at Four Winds Field. South Bend will host the first two games before the best-of-five series shifts to Clinton for the rest.

Posted in 2019 Playoffs, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Midwest League, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment

Ex-South Bend shortstop Hoerner to jump from AA to majors

The Chicago Cubs reportedly will promote top prospect Nico Hoerner from Double-A to play shortstop at the major-league level.

Hoerner — the team’s top draft pick in 2018 — is needed by the big-league club because of several injuries: Javier Baez’s fractured left thumb, Addison Russell getting hitting in the head by a pitch, and Triple-A shortstop Dixon Machado’s injured hamstring.

Hoerner himself has missed significant playing time due to injuries suffered during his two seasons as a pro. His stint with the South Bend Cubs last year was cut short after he suffered a ligament injury in his left elbow when diving for a ball. He ended up playing only four games in the Midwest League.

He played in Double-A this year after missing part of the early season due to a fractured left wrist. He batted .284 with 22 extra-base hits, 22 runs batted in, and eight stolen bases in 70 games with the Tennessee Smokies.

When he makes his MLB debut, Hoerner will be the first player from the 2018 draft to reach that level.

Nico Hoerner played four games with the South Bend Cubs before an injury prematurely ended his Midwest League tenure. (Photo by Rikk Carlson)

Posted in Midwest League, South Bend Silver Hawks, Southern League, Tennessee Smokies | Leave a comment

South Bend advances to MWL finals; will face CR or Clinton

The South Bend Cubs celebrate after clinching a trip to this year’s Midwest League Championship Series. (Photo by Casey McDonald/South Bend Cubs)

The South Bend Cubs beat the Great Lakes Loons 7-3 Sunday to advance to this year’s Midwest League Championship Series. They will face the winner of Monday’s game between the Cedar Rapids Kernels and the Clinton LumberKings.

Nelson Maldonado drove in four of South Bend’s runs, on an RBI single, a two-run double, and a sacrifice fly. Clayton Daniel had three hits and an RBI. Levi Jordan had three hits and a walk.

This is South Bend’s first trip to the MWL finals since 2013, when they were affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks and known as the Silver Hawks. They were swept by the Quad Cities River Bandits in that series.

South Bend has been affiliated with the Chicago Cubs since the 2015 season. The last time a Cubs affiliate won the MWL championship was 2014, when the Kane County Cougars swept through the playoffs after posting the best winning percentage in affiliated baseball.

South Bend last won a MWL championship in 2005. Their opponent in this year’s title series will be determined Monday.

The LumberKings were three outs away from advancing to this year’s finals, but the Kernels rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to win Sunday’s game 3-2. The tying run was driven in by Tyler Webb, who went 3-for-3 with a double and a walk. The winning run was driven in by DaShawn Keirsey, who had two hits and two RBI.

The decisive Game 3 will be played at Cedar Rapids, beginning at 6:35 p.m. CST. Neither team has won a MWL championship since the 1990s (Clinton in 1991, Cedar Rapids in 1994), but both have played in the finals in the past five years (Clinton in 2016, Cedar Rapids in 2015).

Interestingly, when the LumberKings went to the MWL Championship Series in 2016, they advanced by beating the Kernels 1-0 in an 11-inning Game 3 of the Western Division finals. Will history repeat itself, or will the Kernels come out on top this time? We’ll find out Monday night!

Posted in 2013 Playoffs, 2014 Playoffs, 2015 Playoffs, 2016 Playoffs, 2019 Playoffs, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment

Clinton, South Bend win as 2nd round of MWL playoffs begins

Andy Weber had two hits and two RBI for the South Bend Cubs in Game 1 of the Eastern Division finals. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The Clinton LumberKings and the South Bend Cubs took early leads in the second round of the Midwest League playoffs Saturday, beating the Cedar Rapids Kernels and the Great Lakes Loons, respectively.

The LumberKings won 4-0 at home, with the Clinton bats backing up a pitching gem. Starter Josh Roberson allowed only three hits while striking out 10 and walking none in five innings. Manuel Rodriguez allowed one hit, walked one, and struck out two in 3.1 innings before Zach Wolf shut the door with a perfect 9th inning that included two strikeouts.

Evan Edwards hit a two-run homer.

Game 2 of the best-of-three Western Division finals will be played Sunday in Cedar Rapids.

South Bend won 6-4 at home after staking out a 4-0 lead in the 2nd inning and adding two more runs in the bottom of the 6th. Andy Weber had two hits, including a two-run single, for the Cubs. Jair Camargo hit a solo homer for the Loons.

Game 2 of the Eastern Division finals will be played Sunday in Midland, Mich.

Posted in 2019 Playoffs, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Great Lakes Loons, Midwest League, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment

MWL playoffs: Loons, Kernels advance to 2nd round

Gabe Snyder homered and doubled for the Cedar Rapids Kernels on Friday. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The series matchups for Round 2 of the Midwest League playoffs are set after the Great Lakes Loons and the Cedar Rapids Kernels won Friday.

The Loons beat the Lake County Captains 5-0 at Great Lakes. Brandon Lewis drove in four of those runs with a pair of homers. Winning pitcher Jose Chacin scattered three hits and two walks while striking out three batters in seven innings.

The Loons will face the South Bend Cubs in the Eastern Division finals, which begin Saturday.

The Kernels beat the River Bandits 4-2 at Quad Cities. Gabe Snyder hit a solo homer and a double for the Kernels. Winning pitcher Josh Winder gave up six hits and walked none while striking out seven batters in six scoreless innings. Jose Alberto Rivera, who pitched the final five innings for the River Bandits, allowed one run on four hits and a walk, and struck out 13.

The Kernels are the first MWL team to reach the league semifinals for six consecutive years since the Waterloo Royals/Indians did so from 1975 to 1981. Cedar Rapids will face the Clinton LumberKings in the Western Division finals, which begin Saturday.

Moran Ks Moran in MLB debut

LHP Brian Moran made his major-league debut in relief for the Miami Marlins on Thursday and struck out his brother, Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Colin Moran, for his first big-league K. He faced four batters in his one inning of work, with the only blemish being a hit-by-pitch.

Both Moran brothers played in the Midwest League. Brian Moran appeared in 34 games for the 2009-10 LumberKings, cumulatively going 4-4 with a 1.83 ERA, three saves, 65 strikeouts and 13 walks in 59 innings. Colin Moran rehabbed with the River Bandits in 2017, playing in the last series of the regular season and throughout the postseason. Quad Cities won the MWL championship that year.

Colin Moran did a rehab stint with the Quad Cities River Bandits in 2017, when he played for the Houston Astros. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Mejias-Brean makes MLB debut

Former Dayton Dragons corner infielder Seth Mejias-Brean made his MLB debut for the San Diego Padres on Wednesday. He entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the 9th inning and grounded out in his only at-bat.

Mejias-Brean, an eighth-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2012, played 127 games with the Dragons in 2013. He batted .305 with 10 homers, 35 doubles and 79 RBI.

Seth Mejias-Brean played for the Dayton Dragons in 2013. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

RIP Chris Duncan

Former St. Louis Cardinals player Chris Duncan died Friday after years of battling brain cancer. He was 38.

A first-round draft pick of the Cardinals in 1999, Duncan played a total of 331 games with the Peoria Chiefs in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He cumulatively batted .274 with 37 home runs, 82 doubles and 191 RBI in the Midwest League. The Chiefs won the MWL championship in 2002; future major-leaguers Yadier Molina and Dan Haren also played for the team that year.

Posted in 2017 Playoffs, 2019 Playoffs, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Dayton Dragons, Great Lakes Loons, Lake County Captains, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment