Cubs

Thornton falls short to Downers North

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Thornton falls short to Downers North

By Tony Baranek

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Another time, another situation, and the pair of 92-yard touchdown plays Thornton quarterback JoWahn Brown combined on with wide receiver Jauan Wesley during the final three minutes might have gone down in playoff folklore.

Instead, it was window dressing in a game already out of reach.

Just started executing too late, I guess, a sad Brown quietly said after the Wildcats crash-landed Friday night in a 29-13 second-round Class 7A loss to visiting Downers Grove North.

Indeed, the two scores came too little, too late. North built a 29-0 lead before Thornton was able to find the end zone.

A power surge knocked out the scoreboard for a time, but it was running thunder that knocked out the Wildcats.

Downers Grove North (7-4), eighth-seeded and having already shocked No. 1 seed Batavia, stunned No. 5 Thornton with the powerful rushing duo of Kyle Leto and Brandon Salter, who combined for 194 yards rushing and each scored a touchdown.

The Wildcats, who turned the ball over twice in the first six minutes and trailed 19-0 at halftime, saw their season end at 8-3.

Until the late back-to-back highlight-reel plays, the best moments of the night for the Wildcats probably were their first two plays from scrimmage, runs for six and eight yards by Jamal Towns.

On the next play, Browns pass to DAndre Fuller resulted in a three-yard loss. Worse yet, on the next snap Brown was intercepted by Norths Michael Dashut.

The Trojans moved the ball from Thorntons 24 to the 7 before a fumble recovery by the Wildcats Ronnie Cross stopped the threat.

Two plays later, though, Thornton receiver Jason Towns caught a pass, but fumbled after a 12-yard gain.

This time North cashed in, scoring on its first snap on a 17-yard run by Leto.

On their next possession, the Wildcats went back to Jamal Towns for runs of 15 and two yards. But back-to-back sacks of Brown stalled the drive.

North followed with a 76-yard drive, every yard gained on the ground. One of those rushes was a crusher, as North punter Gareth Jones faked from the Thornton 49 and gained six yards for a first down.

And we were playing for the fake, but they still got it, Thornton coach Bill Mosel said later. It was just one of those things.

North later scored on the drive on a 2-yard sneak by quarterback David Edwards, and added another TD on a 3-yard run by Salter to take a 19-0 lead into intermission.

For Thornton, it was simply a frustrating night on both sides of the ball. Brown wasnt able to even target Wesley until a seven-yard play on the Wildcats first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Brown spent a lot of time fleeing tacklers. He was sacked five times.

North added to its lead in the second half, scoring on a 30-yard field goal by Jones and a 2-yard run by Edwards.

They did a good job, Mosel said. They took it to us. They handled us up front, and youve got to take your hats off to them.

Kris Bryant's injury looms large as Cubs finish home stand in underwhelming fashion

Kris Bryant's injury looms large as Cubs finish home stand in underwhelming fashion

There are 162 baseball games in a season and some days, you’re just not going to have it. On Sunday afternoon, in a 10-2 loss to the Reds, the Cubs just didn’t have it. 

“It’s already in the trash can...” Maddon said. “... so let’s flush it out and move on.” 

Things were bleak from the very first at-bat of the game, when Kyle Schwarber took a 3-2 fastball looking for one of his three strikeouts on the day. Anthony Rizzo was the only starter not to strike out at least once, as the Cubs’ finished with 11. Reds starter Tanner Roark was responsible for 9 of them, his season-high. 

Things weren’t much better on the basepaths or in the field. Besides making two errors, Anthony Rizzo was thrown out at the plate in the 2nd inning and David Bote got doubled-up at first after drawing a walk in the 6th. The Cubs were playing playing their 13th game in 13 days, and it showed.

“I feel really good about how we’ve been playing until today,” Maddon said. “This whole month we’ve been in almost every game except for this one, and maybe the [7-0 loss on May 10th] against Milwaukee. There’s not a whole lot to be upset about, and I’m not. I just want to make sure everyone’s well moving forward.” 

There was a scary moment in the 6th inning, as Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward collided in the right field gap while trying to make a play on a fly ball from Eugenio Suarez. Bryant was slow to get up and eventually had to leave the game. He’s still being evaluated for a head/neck injury, and the Cubs don’t yet know if he’ll go into concussion protocol. For what it's worth, Bryant was cleared to fly with the team. 

“He’s doing okay,” he said. “He’s still under evaluation. We don’t know exactly what we’re doing with this whole thing yet, but we’re trying to talk with the doctors and find out exactly where we’re at.”

“We collided, and I called for the ball,” Heyward added. “We were both going hard to make a play and ran into each other.”

The loss dropped starter Jose Quintana to 4-4 on the season. Quintana went 5.1 innings while allowing six runs on 12 hits with one walk and two strikeouts. Despite relatively weak contact, the Reds hit well all weekend. Their 42 hits over three games was the most for them in a three-game series at Wrigley since 1976, and they finished the weekend with a .404 BABIP. 

“Yeah, I just had to keep pitching, you know?” Quintana said. “Keeping my focus. It was really tough - too many base hits. In some contests that happens. I just try to stay close in the game.” 

The Cubs finished their 7-game homestand at 3-4, and now hit the road for a two-city trip. Up first comes the 35-19 Astros, who are 20-7 at home. This season Houston ranks first in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage, and third in home runs. Their closer, Ryan Pressley, has the lowest ERA of all qualified relievers and is fresh off a streak of 40 straight scoreless appearances.

“I’m excited,” Joe Maddon said before Sunday’s game. “Let’s get by today, but I’m excited for the whole week. Look at our schedule - it’s been pretty firm, and it continues to be pretty firm. And that’s the way it should be. I’m looking forward to it.” 

Kris Bryant leaves Sunday's game after outfield collision with Jason Heyward

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Scott Chagnon/NBC Sports Chicago

Kris Bryant leaves Sunday's game after outfield collision with Jason Heyward

Add injury to insult for the Cubs. 

In the top of the 6th inning, with the Cubs already down 6 runs, right fielder Kris Bryant left the game after colliding with Jason Heyward in the outfield.

You can check out the video right here. 

It's possible that the move was simply precautionary. The Cubs are on their 13th game in 13 days, and being down six runs in the latter half of a getaway game isn't the time to roll the dice. That said, Bryant missing time would be a significant blow, as the Cubs' star is in the midst of a stellar season. Through 49 games, Bryant's slashing .288/.411/.576 with a .987 and a 160 wRC+. As of Sunday afternoon, only Javy Baez has a higher WAR (2.5) than Bryant (2.4). 

There's been no further announcement on the extent of Bryant's injury.