Bears

Kannapolis Sweeps Lakewood In Impressive Fashion

Kannapolis Sweeps Lakewood In Impressive Fashion

Sunday April 10, 2011
Posted: 6:50 p.m.
WHITE SOXKannapolis A
The Intimidators swept a doubleheader at Lakewood Sunday, taking a marathon before winning a sprint. Kannapolis won the opener, 2-0, in 16 innings before taking the conventional seven-inning nightcap, 4-1.

Michael Blankes one-out, two-run homer in the top of the 16th was the difference but only part of the story. Jacob Petricka, the clubs second-round pick in 2010 out of Indiana State, made his first South Atlantic League start and tossed six no-hit innings, striking out a career-high nine. Petricka appeared in nine games for Kannapolis last year but all were in relief.

Addison Reed allowed a two-out hit to Domingo Santana in the seventh but the Claws would manage only two more over the next eight innings before Blankes bomb decided it. Four relievers followed Reed with Steven Upchurch pitching the final 1 13 innings for the win. Blanke was one of three players to collect two hits.

Lakewood managed only four hits in the nightcap as Spencer Arroyo earned the win with a strong five-inning effort. Miguel Negron went the final two innings for the save.

The Intimidators scored three fifth-inning runs to snap a 1-1 tie. Brady Shoemakers two-run triple was the big blow after Jeremy Barnes throwing error from third base prolonged the inning and let in a run.
Charlotte AAA
The Knights swept a doubleheader from Norfolk on Sunday, taking both games by a 2-1 count behind a pair of spectacular pitching efforts. It marks the first time in franchise history that Charlotte has started the season at 4-0. The Knights are the only team in the Division to come out of opening weekend undefeated.

Freddy Dolsi earned the win in the opener, allowing only a first-inning a run on four hits. He went six innings before Brian Bruney came on to earn his second save of the season with a perfect seventh inning.

The Knights managed only four hits as well, but one of them was a Tyler Flowers two-run homer in the bottom of the first.

Pete Whisler got the nod in the nightcap and was no less effective, allowing two hits over five shutout innings. The Tides once again managed only four hits with the deciding blow being Alejandro De Azas solo homer in the third. He finished with two hits and two runs scored.
Winston-Salem A
Jared Mitchell cooled off but Jose Martinez remained hot, helping to lead Winston-Salem to a 4-2 victory over Kinston at Historic Grainger Stadium.

Mitchell, the Sox former top pick, had been blistering through the seasons first two games but went hitless in five at-bats, striking out four times on Sunday. Martinez, however, went 2-for-4, including a double, while driving in a run. He hit .615 in the season-opening series, which the Dash won. Ian Gac also contributed with a two-run homer that sparked a three-run sixth-inning. He is 2-for-12 this season with both hits being longballs.

Hecor Santiago started but didnt factor in the decision after allowing a run and striking out seven in four innings. Ryan Kussmaul picked up the win despite allowing a run over his two innings. Tyson Corley earned the save with two scoreless innings.
Birmingham AA
The Barons suffered their first loss of the season, dropping a 4-3 decision at Montgomery. Kyle Cofield suffered the loss. Brandon Short drove in a pair for Birmingham.
CUBSPeoria A
The Chiefs blasted a trio of homers, including a three-run shot by the red-hit Greg Rohan, to romp by Cedar Rapids Sunday afternoon at OBrien Field.

Rohan, who has hit safely in three games, had a pair of hits, including the homer, and is hitting .429. Hes served as a catalyst in the middle of the batting order. Rubi Silva and Richard Jones also went deep as the Chiefs used a five-run fifth inning to blast by the Kernels. A throwing error by Kernals third baseman Jesus Campos fueled the fifth inning after Silvas one-out homer. The homer was Silvas first of his career.

Jeff Antigua 1-0 earned the win in relief of Cam Greathouse, who allowed four runs in 4 13 innings. Antigua allowed two runs on three hits in 2 23 innings. The first road game of the season will be played on Monday at Burlington at 6:30 p.m. Graham Hicks will start for Peoria while Jacob Brown starts for the Bees.
Iowa AAA
Tony Campanas four-hit effort paced Iowa on Sunday afternoon as they bested Round Rock at the Dell Diamond, 8-6, to take three of the four games in the opening series. The I-Cubs collected at least 15 hits for the third time in the series.

Campana scored twice and drove in a run and is hitting .467. He was at the heart of almost every Iowa rally, closing out the scoring with a run-scoring double in the eighth. Lou Montanez had three hits and drove in four runs and is batting .500.

Justin Berg earned the victory in relief. Right-hander Ramon Ortiz was added to the roster and will start Monday at Albuquerque. The 37-year-old Ortiz made 16 appearances (eight starts) with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season and also made stops with triple-A Buffalo in the New York Mets system and triple-A Durham in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. He was 3-5 with a 5.31 ERA in 28 games (14 starts) between the stops.
Tennessee AA
Brett Jacksons seventh-inning grand slam powered Tennessee to an 8-5 victory Sunday afternoon at Chattanooga.

The Smokies had trailed 5-2 heading into the seventh before Jackson, who finished with two hits and two runs scored, gave them a lead they would not relinquish. Tennessee tacked on runs in the eighth and ninth innings to end any doubt as to the games outcome. DJ LeMahieu added three hits.

Trey McNutt started and pitched 2 23 hitless innings for the Smokies but left after facing only 10 batters. Despite giving up three runs in his only inning, Ryan Buchter earned the victory.
Daytona A
The Cubs rallied from a five-run, first-inning deficit to defeat Brevard County, 11-7, at Space Coast Stadium and remain undefeated in the Florida State League action.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Low

Decisions to be made on: Christian Jones (free agent), John Timu (free agent), Jonathan Anderson (free agent); Jerrell Freeman has reportedly been cut

Possible free agent targets: Demario Davis, Preston Brown, Anthony Hitchens, Avery Williamson, Navorro Bowman, Derrick Johnson

How the Bears rate Nick Kwiatkoski will be the key to figuring out what this unit will look like in 2018. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio thought Kwiatkoski finished last season strong, but strong enough to rely on him in 2018 as the starter next to Danny Trevathan?

The thing with the Bears’ inside linebackers, though: Trevathan makes whoever is playing next to him better. The problem is Trevathan hasn’t been able to stay on the field — he missed time in 2017 with a calf injury and a one-game suspension, and missed half of 2016 after rupturing his Achilles’. Trevathan hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013, so durability is an issue for the soon-to-be 28-year-old.

So that leads to this question: Do the Bears need to find someone in free agency, regardless of how they value Kwiatkoski, who’s also missed time due to injuries in his first two years in the league?

Free agency could provide a few options. Demario Davis had a career high 97 tackles for the New York Jets last year and has never missed a game as a pro. Preston Brown had some decent production in Buffalo and also hasn’t missed a game since being drafted in 2014. Avery Williamson may not be a world-beater but has only missed one game in his four years in the NFL.

The Bears could also opt for someone who fits more of a rotational mold, like Dallas’ Anthony Hitchens, or try to lure a veteran linebacker like Navorro Bowman (who played for Vic Fangio in San Francisco) or Derrick Johnson (who Matt Nagy knows from his Kansas City days) to play next to Trevathan and/or Kwiatkoski.

The Bears could opt to keep the status quo and re-sign Christian Jones and John Timu for depth, and enter 2018 with Kwiatkoski and Trevathan as the team’s starters (Jerrell Freeman, who suffered a season-ending injury and then was hit with his second PED suspension in as many years, was cut on Tuesday). Signing a starting-caliber free agent isn’t out of the question, either, but there is a third option for the Bears if they appear to stand pat in free agency: Draft an inside linebacker in April. If that’s the route they go, Georgia’s Roquan Smith could be the guy. But again, those more pressing needs at other positions could mean the Bears don’t burn a first-round pick on an inside linebacker.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?