The Iowa Cubs (54-46) parlayed a five-run second inning, including three solo home runs, into a 5-4 win over the Round Rock Express (48-50) on Saturday night at Dell Diamond. The victory was the third straight for Iowa over Round Rock coming out of the all-star break.
Perhaps the biggest upset of the night was that none of the three Iowa home runs were hit by Javier Baez or Kris Bryant.
The second inning began when Chris Valaika hit his tenth home run of the season on the first pitch from Express starter Justin Germano, giving Iowa a 1-0 lead. Germano (3-10) retired the next two Iowa batters via strikeout. Eli Whiteside then blasted his fourth home run of the season, giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead. Two pitches later, Logan Watkins added his fourth home run of the season to put Iowa up by three runs. Whiteside and Watkins hitting back-to-back home runs was the first time Iowa has accomplished the feat since Dave Sappelt and Mike Olt went back-to-back on August 6, 2013.
Matt Szczur and Brett Jackson continued the hit parade with singles, putting runners on first and third. Baez narrowly missed the fourth home run of the inning, raking a two-run double, giving Iowa a 5-0 lead. The double by Baez extended his hitting streak to 13 games, tying him with Arismendy Alcantara for a season-high for Iowa.
The Express mounted a comeback in the third, plating four runs. The big play of the inning occurred with the bases loaded. Former Iowa Cub Jim Adduci singled to center, scoring one run. Szczur relayed the ball to Baez who threw home in an attempt to cut down Luis Sardinas at the plate. Whiteside misplayed the relay from Baez, allowing both Sardinas and Tomas Tells to score, cutting the lead to 5-3. Michael Choice followed with an RBI double to cut the deficit to one run.
From there, Iowa pitching buckled down, allowing only four hits to Round Rock in the final five innings. Carlos Pimentel (2-6) tossed three scoreless innings in relief of starter Eric Jokisch to pick up the win for Iowa. Marcos Mateo pitched a scoreless eighth, striking out the side and Blake Parker retired all three batters in the ninth to pick up his league-leading 20th save of the season.
Iowa goes for the four-game sweep on Sunday, sending Chris Rusin to the mound.