LHP Chris Rusin (4-7) and the Iowa Cubs (31-27) scraped out a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (26-34) on Friday night in Des Moines, Iowa.
Behind strong pitching performances from both Rusin and Sky Sox LHP Tyler Matzek (5-4), it was a two-run homer from Javy Baez in the third inning that was the difference maker to give the I-Cubs the win.
Rusin, who pitched a gem, allowed just one run on six hits in eight innings of work with two strikeouts and no walks. His only run was to 1B Ben Paulsen when he smacked his 11th homer of the season. Paulsen’s solo-shot in the second gave the Sky Sox the early lead. The last four home runs by Paulsen have all been off lefties.
Matzek rebounded from a poor outing against New Orleans and tossed his own solid outing. In six innings of work, the 23-year-old southpaw allowed the lone homer to Baez while striking out nine — his most in a game since he struck out 11 on Opening Day. He allowed seven hits and two walks.
The Sky Sox had multiple opportunities to tie the game up throughout the game, including in the fifth inning when C Jackson Williams reached on a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Drew Garcia smacked his eighth double of the season to left field, but Williams was thrown out at the plate on a 7-6-2 outfield assist from Josh Vitters-Javy Baez-Luis Flores.
CF Jason Pridie and Paulsen each had two hits for the Sky Sox, while RHP Rob Scahill and RHP Greg Burke each tossed scoreless frames. Burke finished with two strikeouts.
Baez finished with two hits and two RBI for the I-Cubs, including a double.
Blake Parker picked up his 12th save of the season, while lowering his ERA to 1.15.
Both teams will go back at it Saturday night when LHP Yohan Flande (1-8, 5.40 ERA) takes on LHP Eric Jokisch (5-4, 3.28 ERA).