Des Moines, IA - Josh Vitters hit a walk-off single with the bases loaded in the 10th inning as the Iowa Cubs (44-38) overcame a four-run deficit to beat the Omaha Storm Chasers (44-39) 7-6 in a wild, seesaw affair on Monday night at Principal Park. The Cubs retook first place from Omaha and are in sole possession of the division lead for the first time since May 28. The Cubs lead the season series 3-1 and have taken 13 of the last 15 contests between the teams at Principal Park.
Javy Baez started the game-winning rally by lining a double off the left field wall against Storm Chasers RH Wilking Rodriguez. After a Chris Valaika sacrifice bunt brought Baez to third base, Rodriguez intentionally walked Kris Bryant and Logan Watkins to pack the bags for Vitters. He fell behind in the count, but drove the fourth pitch of the at-bat into right field for the walk-off. Vitters (1-for-5, RBI) hit a monthly season-best .272 (25-for-92) with four doubles and nine RBI in June.
The Cubs erased an early four-run deficit thanks to a pair of long balls for Manny Ramirez and Kris Bryant. Ramirez cut the deficit in half in the seventh inning by hitting a long two-run homer to straightaway center field off Omaha starter Sugar Ray Marimon -- his first homer since July 14 last season with Round Rock against Omaha. Ramirez now has four home runs in 49 games with three PCL teams since 2012. He recorded his first hit in an Iowa uniform in the fifth inning when he roped a single up the middle, and in his at-bat after going deep, he had another sharply hit single to center field to finish his three-hit day.
Leading 4-2, Omaha got an insurance run in the eighth inning off RH Yoanner Negrin on three walks, including one to Carlos Peguero with the bases-loaded. The Cubs came right back in the bottom half of the inning, and took their first lead of the day when Bryant hit a mammoth two-out grand slam to center field off former I-Cub Casey Coleman. RH Spencer Patton started the inning and walked the first two he faced before being removed for Coleman. Coleman got two outs, but walked Baez in between to set up Bryant's slam. Bryant hit his 28th homer this year, and his sixth with Iowa. He ranks second among all minor leaguers in long balls, trailing only double-A Frisco's Joey Gallo by one.
RH Blake Parker entered in the ninth inning for his 18th save opportunity. He got the first two hitters out seven pitches, but served up a walk and a single to put the tying the run at second base. Matt Fields proceeded by ripping the game-tying single to center field to tie the game at six. It was the first blown save of the Parker, but he still leads the PCL in saves this season.
The Storm Chasers broke the scoring seal in the second inning by getting four runs on back-to-back home runs off RH Carlos Pimentel. After a one-out walk and bloop double, Peguero launched a three-run homer to the party deck in right-center field for his fourth long ball in his last eight games and 10th on the year. Two pitches later, Francisco Pena hit his team-leading 13th home run over the suites in left field to give Omaha a 4-0 lead. It marked the first back-to-back jacks for the Storm Chasers since April 27 against New Orleans.
Pimentel settled down after the second inning and allowed just two baserunners -- a third-inning double and fourth-inning walk -- over his final three frames, striking out five in that stretch, but took his fifth loss. He fanned eight hitters on the night and walked only two in his five innings, giving up four runs on four hits. Pimentel, who has made 16 appearances, sports a 5.63 ERA (27 ER/43.2IP) in nine starts this year.
The Cubs and Storm Chasers continue their series by playing a day/night double-header Tuesday. RH Kyle Hendricks (9-5, 3.52) seeks his league-leading 10th win in game one with the first pitch scheduled for 12:05. RH Clayton Mortensen (3-0, 0.99) takes the ball for the Storm Chasers in the nightcap at 7:05. Both games will be seven-innings and broadcast live on AM 940 and streamed live at iowacubs.com with the On-Deck Circle Pre-Game Show starting at 11:45 a.m. for game one and 6:45 p.m. for game two.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.