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Chris Valaika drives in four to lead Iowa over Colorado Springs

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Chris Rusin went six shutout innings and the offense pounded out 15 hits as the Iowa Cubs cruised to an 8-3 victory over the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (23-25) on Saturday night at Principal Park. Rusin’s effort on the mound produced the sixth straight quality start for an Iowa Cubs pitcher and the 15th out of 23 games this month.

Coming in to the game, Sky Sox starter Christian Bergman had been brilliant. In his previous four starts, Bergman (3-3) had pitched 30 innings giving up only one run over that period. Bergman was greeted rudely by Iowa hitters on Saturday. Iowa posted two runs in the first. Bergman retired the first two batters but a walk to Javier Baez would prove costly. Chris Valaika followed with an RBI double to right and would come around to score when Christian Villanueva drove him in with an RBI single to right.

Iowa (25-21) took a 5-0 lead by scoring three runs in the second, highlighted by a two-run triple to right by Logan Watkins, scoring Luis Flores who had walked and Rusin who reached on an error.

Valaika did more damage in the fourth. After Watkins led off with a single to center, Baez roped a double to left, extending his season-high hitting streak to nine games. Valaika followed and Baez blasted a 1-0 pitch deep over the left field wall for a three-run homer, his fourth on the season, extending the lead to 8-0.

That was more than enough run support for Rusin (3-6). Rusin scattered four hits over six innings, walking two while striking out a season-high eight batters.

The Sky Sox put up three runs in the seventh off Iowa reliever Alberto Cabrera. Cabrera retired the first two batters via strikeout and went to a full count on pinch-hitter Angelys Nina. The deciding pitch was called ball four to the chagrin of Cabrera. Cabrera appeared to lose his concentration after that, walking the next batter and then giving up a long three-run homer to Sky Sox shortstop Drew Garcia on the first pitch he saw for the only runs of the game for Colorado Springs.

Valaika finished 2-for-4 with a double, home run, and 4 RBI. Watkins, Casper Wells, and Brett Jackson added three hits each for Iowa.

Game three of the four-game series is Sunday afternoon at Principal Park.

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