Bulls

Daytona Advances in FSL; Great Falls Clinches In Pioneer League

Daytona Advances in FSL; Great Falls Clinches In Pioneer League

Thursday Sept. 8, 2011
Posted: 10:00 p.m.
CUBS Daytona A
The Cubs exploded for four eight-inning runs Thursday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium, racing by Dunedin, 4-3, to capture their opening-round series in the Florida State League playoffs. Daytona will face St. Lucie, which topped Bradenton, in the best-of-five finals beginning Friday at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Dunedin held a 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the eighth before Mike Brenly and Evan Crawford led off with back-to-back singles. Logan Watkins walked to load the bases and the Jays changed pitchers, bringing in Aaron Loup. He fared no better, though, giving up consecutive run-scoring singles to Matt Cerda and Justin Bour.

Greg Rohans sacrifice fly then tied the score. Abner Abreu singled to reload the bases and Dunedin went to the bullpen again, bringing in Vince Bongiovanni. He promptly allowed an RBI single to Matt Szczur, giving the Cubs a 4-3 lead.

Jordan Latham earned the victory while Frank Batista picked up the save.

Tennessee AA
Tennessee used five pitchers and a monstrous fourth-inning outburst Thursday night at Smokies Stadium to earn a 9-6 victory over Chattanooga in the Southern League semi-final playoff series opener.

Hung-Wen Chen pitched 1 13 shutout innings in relief of Brooks Raley, who lasted only 3 23 innings, to pick up the win. He was the beneficiary of the big fourth inning in which the Smokies scored seven times. Josh Vitters and Blake Lalli each connected for two-run homers in the inning to fuel the rally. Lalli finished with three RBIs while Jim Adduci chipped in three hits.
WHITE SOXGreat Falls Rookie
The Voyagers clinched the Pioneer League North Division title Thursday night, topping Missoula, 11-8, in the regular-season finale. Great Falls will host Missoula in Game One Friday night before the series shifts for Game Two and Three, if needed.

Mike Earley, Andrew Douglas and Martin Medina were dominant for the Voyagers, combining to go 7-for-14 with two homer, nine RBIs and six runs scored. Earleys three-run double in a five-run sixth erased an Osprey lead, giving the Voyagers an advantage they wouldnt relinquish.

Stew Brase 3-2 earned the win despite allowing three runs on a pair of homers in 2 13 innings of relief. The Voyagers have reached the playoffs five consecutive seasons. Pioneer League pitcher of the year Blake Walters 9-0 will start the opener.
Birmingham AA
The Barons exploded early and then left the game in the hands of Terry Doyle and the ace did the rest in a 9-1 victory over Mobile at Regions Park in a Southern League semi-final playoff series opener.

Doyle, who had eight wins during the regular season, allowed a run in 6 23 innings. He allowed one run or less 10 times during the regular season between Birmingham and Winston-Salem, finishing the regular season with four consecutive victories.

The offense made it easy for Doyle, though, scoring five times in the first and four more times in the third inning. Jake Oesters three-run homer in the first inning was the big blow. He would added a run-scoring sacrifice fly to kick off the fourth-inning barrage. Ken Williams, Tyler Kuhn and Brandon Short added RBI singles.

Four observations: Bulls rout Atlanta Hawks in much-needed get-right game

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USA Today

Four observations: Bulls rout Atlanta Hawks in much-needed get-right game

The Bulls picked up a valuable get-right win in a 136-102 blowout of the Atlanta Hawks. Observations from a game the Bulls had to win, and did handily:

The bench provided a spark (again)

Bulls starters not named Zach LaVine got off to a sluggish start in this one. At the 3:14 mark of the first, the Hawks led 29-21 and were shooting a scalding 13-for-18 (72.2%) from the field (3-for-6 from 3-point range). LaVine had 12 of the Bulls’ 21 points.

The hosts ended the period ahead 37-33, buoyed by a 16-4 run by a bench unit of Coby White, Ryan Arcidiacono, Denzel Valentine, Thad Young and Daniel Gafford. Valentine hit four floaters over that stretch, Gafford had a resounding block, White had a strong and-one take over Alex Len and Thad Young tallied five points, for good measure. 

Bench runs have become commonplace for this Bulls team, even in the midst of a three-game losing streak. This one carried over into the second quarter, which the Bulls won 29-19, holding Atlanta to 6-for-21 (28.6%) shooting, 2-for-10 (20%) from three. They didn't look back from there.

Young finished the first half with nine points, four rebounds and two assists. White had a flashy night — tallying 19 points. Valentine and Gafford connected on a handful of alley-oops (which is fast become tradition).

Zach LaVine bounced back

LaVine — averaging 20 points on 33.3% shooting during the team’s three-game losing streak — was ripe for a breakout, and this Hawks team (29th in the NBA in defensive rating) presented an opportunity to bounce back. He took advantage.

As mentioned, LaVine carried the Bulls offense early: he had 18 first-half points on 7-for-9 shooting. Embedded in that line were a few highlight-reel dunks that awoke the United Center:

He tacked on a cool 17 (!) in the third quarter before coming out with the game out of reach. LaVine finished the night leading all scorers with 35 points and shot a staggering 7-for-7 from 3-point range. When he’s on, it’s too much fun, and he dazzled in this one. 

In a favorable matchup, the defense kept rolling

Coming into this game, we knew the Bulls defense, theoretically, matched up well with Atlanta’s offense plan of attack. For the most part, that bore out, in practice.

Kris Dunn was outstanding containing Trae Young tonight, hounding him off every screen (where he was usually aided by a hedge from the big in coverage) and staying attached even in instances when Young was able to penetrate. Young didn’t score until the 11:07 mark in the second quarter, and finished the night with 15 points on 4-for-14 shooting (1-for-6 from three) and seven turnovers. This is the fourth-leading scorer in the NBA we’re talking about here. He did rack up 13 assists (six in the first quarter) — and some were very, very pretty — but most of those came in transition. In the halfcourt, the Bulls’ set defense effectively bottled him up.

The Hawks, as a team, committed 23 turnovers on the night, which the Bulls were able to convert into 15 points. Atlanta is an inferior opponent, yes, but it was a strong showing, nonetheless.

Blowouts are fun

This one was a little too close for comfort early on, but ended in a rout. The Bulls simply outclassed the Hawks, winning statistical categories this team has often been overmatched in, from rebounds (42-40), to points in the paint (78-42), to blocks (7-4), to the 3-point battle. Lauri Markkanen even utilized garbage time to turn a fine stat line into a good one: he had 10 points in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with 22 points on 8-for-9 shooting. 

So, you know what? Rest your brain with some of the best clips of the night. You’ve earned it:

 

 

 

 

The Bulls can push questions about fourth-quarter stagnation, cold shooting streaks and crowded rotations until this weekend. This was a solid overall performance.

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Bears tap into Utah's defense in latest 3-round NFL mock draft

Bears tap into Utah's defense in latest 3-round NFL mock draft

The 2019 college football regular season is over, which means the 2020 NFL draft season is right around the corner. Underclassmen are declaring by the day, all-star rosters are filling out and, of course, mock drafts are being published.

The really unique thing about the Bears in 2019 is how fluid their likely NFL draft needs have been. A few weeks ago, quarterback would've topped the list. Now? Not so much. Tight end, a position that's been non-existent in Chicago's offense all year, suddenly has two players (J.P. Holtz and Jesper Horsted) who've garnered some excitement.

Seasons like this year make trying to pinpoint which direction GM Ryan Pace will go in April's draft extremely challenging. According to the Draft Wire's latest three-round mock draft, the Bears will grab help for the secondary and offensive line in Round 2.

Their first selection (as of the start of Week 15) comes at No. 45 overall from the Raiders. Chicago uses that pick on Utah cornerback, Jaylon Johnson.

It's hard to argue this projection. The Bears may have a bigger need at cornerback by the time the draft rolls around than they do right now if they decide it's time to part ways with veteran starter Prince Amukamara. Chicago needs to make some difficult salary-cap decisions this offseason, and moving on from Amukamara would free up roughly $9 million in cap space. 

Johnson (6-0, 190) will be part of the second wave of cornerbacks to get drafted this year. He isn't a first-round talent, and barring an elite showing at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, he should be available in the middle portion of the second round.

The Bears land offensive line help at No. 50 overall in this mock draft via Tennessee's Trey Smith.

A former five-star recruit, Smith's talent is undeniable. It's first-round worthy. His medicals, however, are not.

After dealing with blood clots in his lungs in 2018, Smith returned to action this season and was once again a dominant force. He projects as an interior player in the NFL and would be an ideal target for a Bears team that needs to add more talent at guard in their effort to replace longtime starter, Kyle Long.

Smith's medical history is likely to push him into Day 3, however, at which point he'll qualify as one of this year's best value selections.