There was a buzz around Principal Park on Wednesday and it didn’t involve news on Manny Ramirez. Earlier in the day, Kris Bryant announced via Twitter that he would be joining the Iowa Cubs on Thursday. Bryant, the Cubs first round draft pick in 2013, decimated pitching in double-A during the first half of the season and will try and do the same at the next level.
With the big news out of the way, there was still a game to play. Dallas Beeler pitched a strong six innings and Josh Vitters had a big night at the plate as the Iowa Cubs (35-35) took a 3-1 victory over the El Paso Chihuahuas (34-40), holding off a late rally by El Paso.
Iowa jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first off El Paso starter Odrisamer Despaigne (1-3). Arismendy Alcantara led off with a walk and later scored on a single by Rafael Lopez. Lopez moved to second when Chris Valaika was hit by a pitch and came around to score when Josh Vitters singled to right.
Vitters put Iowa up 3-0 in the fifth when he pulverized a 2-0 pitch from Despaigne over the left field wall for his seventh home run of the season.
Meanwhile, Beeler (4-3) kept the Chihuahuas’ offense in check. Beeler tossed six innings allowing no runs on three hits while walking two and striking out six on his was to earning the victory.
After Marcus Hatley pitched a scoreless seventh for Iowa, El Paso started to break through. Facing Zac Rosscup in the eighth, Alex Castellanos doubled when Iowa center fielder Ryan Kalish misplayed a line drive right at him, allowing the ball to go over his head. Two batters later, Brooks Conrad doubled to left, cutting the Iowa lead to 3-1.
Blake Parker came on for Iowa in the ninth. After retiring the first two batters, back-to-back singles and a walk to Castellanos loaded the bases for El Paso. Jonathan Galvez flared a ball that right fielder Brett Jackson, who had a fabulous game defensively, tracked down to end the game and give Parker another save. Parker has 14 saves, tied for best in the Pacific Coast League with Spencer Patton of Omaha.
Vitters finished 3-for-4 with a HR and 2 RBI and Lopez picked up two hits for Iowa.
Game three of the series is Thursday night at Principal Park.