Szczur, Cubs take 2-0 lead in FSL Finals

Outfield prospect goes 3-for-4 as Daytona erupts for 12 hits

Matt Szczur batted .293 with 35 extra-base hits across two levels this year. (Mark LoMoglio/MiLB.com)

By David Heck / Special to MLB.com | September 10, 2011 7:59 PM

Matt Szczur called hitting "contagious." On Saturday night, he was one of many Daytona Cubs to catch the bug.

The Cubs' No. 2 prospect went 3-for-4 with a double, two stolen bases and two RBIs as Daytona defeated the St. Lucie Mets, 10-6, to take a 2-0 lead in the Florida State League Finals.

"It feels a lot better than being down 0-2," Szczur said. "It's awesome. Everyone's been coming along, coming through at the end of the season. We've been picking it up -- pitching, hitting and the defense has been unbelievable as well. We're putting all the pieces together and playing great baseball."

Overall, five Cubs had multi-hit performances as the team totaled 12 hits to tie a league playoff high in runs. Justin Bour homered and drove in three runs, while Jake Opitz went 2-for-4 with a homer, double and two RBIs.

"I feel like it's contagious -- everybody was hitting tonight," said Szczur, who was 3-for-13 in his first four playoff games. "It helps out so much when everything's going well. You want to get a hit, not only because you want to be competitive with the other team, but with other players. You want to try to get RBIs, try to get on base to help out the team."

Cubs starter Frank Del Valle (1-0) struck out eight over six scoreless innings. The left-hander, who turns 22 on Friday, allowed two hits and a walk.

"It's huge, just because he's out there battling," Szczur said of Del Valle, who had allowed 11 runs in his only two regular-season starts for Daytona. "He's throwing strikes. ... It really helps out because you want to play defense behind someone like that, because he'll battle and go after the hitter."

A football and baseball star at Villanova, Szczur was selected by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 2010 Draft. After nullifying his original contract by playing football last fall, he agreed to a new deal with the Cubs in January. The 22-year-old outfielder batted .293 with 35 extra-base hits across two levels this season.

Daytona has three chances to close out the Championship Series, starting Sunday. The Cubs will have to win on the road, however, as the final three games are scheduled for St. Lucie.

"The clubhouse is juiced up -- we're fired up in there," Szczur said. "We have three chances, and even though it's away, it's really hard from both ends to beat a team three times in a row. We'll see what happens. I've never been this excited to play a baseball game."

Jefry Marte had two hits, including a solo homer, for the Mets. Starter Scott Moviel (0-1) lasted three innings and gave up four runs -- two earned -- on five hits.

David Heck is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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