Matt Wisler tossed seven strong innings, leading the El Paso Chihuahuas (34-39) to an 8-5 victory over the Iowa Cubs (34-35) on Tuesday night at Principal Park in a game delayed by 26 minutes due to travel issues for the Chihuahuas. El Paso ended up chartering a plane and arrived at the Des Moines airport about an hour before game time. The travel delays didn’t seem to bother Wisler.
Wisler (4-4), the second ranked prospect in the San Diego Padres system according to Baseball America, allowed only three hits over seven innings, giving up two runs and walking two while striking out five.
Iowa pushed across single runs the first two innings to take a 2-0 lead. Matt Szczur led off the first for Iowa with a double and would come around to score on a throwing error by El Paso shortstop Jake Lemmerman. Chris Valaika blasted his sixth home run in the second inning to give Iowa a two-run lead.
El Paso fought back in the fourth off Iowa starter Eric Jokisch (5-7). The big blow of the fourth was a mammoth three-run home run by Jonathan Galvez that left Principal Park. Galvez’ fifth home run of the season put El Paso ahead 3-2.
Up 4-2 in the seventh, a single by Wisler chased Jokisch from the game. Three batters later, Brooks Conrad ripped a two-run double to left-center field off Iowa reliever Marcos Mateo to extend the El Paso lead to 6-2.
Down 8-2 in the eighth, Iowa rallied against El Paso reliever Dennis O’Grady. O’Grady walked Christian Villanueva to lead off the inning. After retiring the next two batters, O’Grady couldn’t quite corral a line drive up the middle off the bat of Ryan Kalish. The infield single put runners at first and second for Javier Baez. Baez pulverized a 2-1 pitch deep over the center field wall, cutting the El Paso lead to 8-5. Baez leads Iowa with 11 home runs and 38 RBI, despite hitting only .219.
Iowa picked up two more hits in the ninth but couldn’t push across any runs as Hector Ambriz picked up his sixth save of the season for El Paso.
Jokisch pitched 6.1 innings giving up five runs on seven hits and two walks while tying a career-high in strikeouts with ten.
Game two of the four-game series is Wednesday night at Principal Park.