Withing about 15 minutes one another Friday night, both the Iowa and South Bend Cubs qualified for the postseason. South Bend clinched a wild card berth for the Class-A Midwest League playoffs while Iowa won their division in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. This will be the second playoff trip in South Bend’s five-year tenure in the organization while Iowa will be going for the first time since 2008.
We’ve talked all summer here at CI about young and talented the SB Cubs are, and I do mean young. They played great as a team, led by excellent starting pitching from Faustino Carrera, Cam Sanders, and Riley Thompson. An offense that had the highest batting average in the league the second half didn’t hurt. Combine those two things with an excellent defense anchored by shortstop Andy Weber and center fielder Cole Roederer and you have winning baseball.
The I-Cubs got off to a hot start in the spring and basically led their division wire to wire. In the first half, a dominant bullpen kept them in games as the Cubs struggled to find starting pitching to stretch out and keep healthy. The offense blossomed behind Trent Giambrone, Jim Adduci, Donnie Dewees, and Phillip Evans. Then they added the slugging Robel Garcia and pushed out to a double-digit lead by the break.
In the second half, Iowa’s rotation stabilized and the offense went on cruise control. Starter Colin Rea highlighted the rotation and earned Pitcher of the Year honors in the PCL. Trevor Clifton pitched one of his best games of the year Friday night, going four scoreless despite not being stretched out after spending half of August in the bullpen.
Both clubs should announce their official playoff schedules later Saturday, but South Bend is set to play Bowling Green and will open up at home in a best-of-three series. Iowa will play a best-of-five series, most likely against Round Rock. We’ll have more details either here or via social media when they are available.