Zach Davis led off the game with a single then used his legs to make his way around the bases to give the Emeralds a 1-0 lead. He stole second, then third, before finally coming home on a wild pitch. The Eugene pitching staff would need to make that narrowest of margins stick as the Emeralds offense would collect just two hits in the final eight innings. Thankfully, Cory Abbott and the relief core seemed up for the task.
Abbott shut out the Canadians for three innings before handing the ball off to Rollie Lacy. Lacy pitched well, but when your shortstop gives the first hitter you face a free bag, then when you get the next player to line out and you see the third baseman throw the ball away while trying to pick the runner off first allowing him to advance all the way to third, it can be too tall a task for a pitcher to be asked to hold a one run lead in those circumstances. The runner from third scored on a ground out, then with two outs in an inning that should have been over, Brock Lundquist drove a Lacy pitch over the right center field wall to give Vancouver a 2-1 advantage. Both runs were unearned and Lacy would pitch into the sixth. Ricky Tyler Thomas would finish the game with two and a third hitless innings, but the damage was done.
The two teams combined for only seven hits as pitching dominated. Defense proved to be the difference, and unfortunately for the Emeralds the errors by Jhonny Bethencourt and Austin Filiere have been an all too frequent event down the stretch, and it came back bite the team in this one.
- Zach Davis: 2-4, 2B, R, 2 SB
- Michael Cruz: 2-2, 2B, 2 BB
- Cory Abbott: 3 IP, H, 2 BB, 3 K
- Rollie Lacy: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER, BB, 2 K (L)
- Ricky Tyler Thomas: 2.1 IP, BB, 3 K
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Jhonny Bethencourt has struggled defensively as he has bounced around the diamond this season, especially on the left side of the infield. In 23 regular season games at SS and 3B he committed 12 errors. Austin Filiere has been no more reliable at the hot corner as he committed 14 errors in 36 games. Both sport fielding percentages below .850 at those positions. The pair have been two of the better offensive players for Eugene this season, but they will need to clean up their defensive games as they move forward in the system.
It was an impressive performance from the pitching staff in this game. In his final appearance of the year, Cory Abbott continued to show the skills that made him a late riser in the draft. he commands his pitches well and the development of a slider this season has given him a legit out pitch. Including his postseason start he finishes with 21 K and just 5 BB in 17 IP.
I know less about Rollie Lacy, the Cubs 11th round pick out of Creighton as he spent most of his time pitching in the AZL before being a late edition to Eugene. He has good size (6'4" 195) and was Creighton's Friday night starter before coming to the Cubs. He has performed well as a pro however, posting a 2.25 ERA in 32 innings between the two affiliates.
Ricky Tyler Thomas has been a mainstay in long relief for the Emeralds since being selected in the 7th round out of Fresno State. The lefty features a terrific changeup, a definite plus pitch, but his fastball velo has wavered between the high 80s and low 90s and also ran into control issues late as his collegiate career progressed. Walks have continued to plague in Eugene, but at least at this level where he can outclass hitters with his changeup he has managed to overcome it. He has struck out well above a batter per inning and his ERA has dropped below 2 in 13 games. He will need to improve his fastball command as he moves up and faces more advanced hitters that will be less willing to chase his changeup out of the zone.
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap