The Daytona Cubs have found plenty of success in September over the past few years. Now someone who has never been there before can help the club reach postseason glory once again.
First-rounder Kyle Schwarber clubbed a fourth-inning grand slam and cleanup hitter Dan Vogelbach homered, doubled, plated two runs and scored twice as the Class A Advanced Cubs beat the visiting Dunedin Blue Jays, 11-1, in Game 1 of their best-of-3 Florida State League North Division Finals.
"They had a side-armer, like a submarine lefty, and I was just looking for a pitch up and over the plate that I could handle," MLB.com's No. 75 prospect said of his at-bat against reliever Tony Davis. "It was a 2-1 fastball, so it was a good hitter's count with bases loaded. I knew he didn't want to get to 3-1. I just wanted a pitch to drive. I knew that one was gone."
The Cubs are looking to win their second straight FSL championship -- their fourth in seven years -- and left fielder Bijan Rademacher certainly aided that cause by going 3-for-3 with a double and three RBIs. Catcher Willson Contreras collected three hits, three runs and an RBI and starter Rob Zastryzny (1-0) allowed one run on five hits and a walk while striking out four batters over six innings in the triumph.
"This team overall is great," said Schwarber, the Cubs' seventh-ranked prospect. "People are stepping up when they have to, like Rade and Vogie and Contreras. We needed momentum and we got it. It's going to be huge for this team going into tomorrow's ballgame when we try to sweep."
Selected by the Cubs fourth overall in the 2014 Draft out of Indiana University, the 21-year-old left fielder hit .344 with 18 homers and 53 RBIs in 72 games across three levels in his rookie year.
Schwarber signed with the Cubs on June 11 for a little more than $3 million.
"We have a really great group of guys with the same common goal to win a championship," the Indiana product said. "We all have the right mind-set, just keep doing what we're doing. I'm a little bit of a late addition, but they have been putting in the work for a long time and I'm just trying to help them win a championship."
Dunedin's Matt Boyd (0-1) yielded seven runs on eight hits over 3 1/3 frames.
Game 2 will be played in Dunedin on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. ET.