Cubs clinch American North title

Iowa rallies, secures first PCL playoff berth since 2004

(Shawn E. Davis/

By Danny Wild / Special to | August 24, 2008 8:38 PM ET

One night after the Oklahoma RedHawks clinched a division title at the expense of the Cubs, Iowa returned the favor.

Andres Torres singled home the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning Sunday as the Cubs secured the Pacific Coast League American North crown with a 5-3 victory over the RedHawks.

Oklahoma nailed down the American South title Saturday, scoring in its last at-bat to post a wild 10-8 triumph over Iowa. After Memphis lost at Omaha earlier Sunday, the Cubs needed a win to make it two clinchings in as many nights at at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark.

The Cubs battled back from a 3-0 deficit, tying it in the sixth on Koyie Hill's two-out three-run homer. In the ninth, Hill drew a leadoff walk and took second on Luis Figueroa's base hit. After Anthony Richie sacrificed, Torres singled to center field to break the tie and Felix Pie liftd a sacrifice fly to produce an insurance run.

Kevin Hart struck out the side in the ninth for his fifth save, locking up Iowa's first division title since 2004. The Cubs and RedHawks will meet in the opening round of the PCL playoffs, with Games 1 and 2 set for Iowa's Principal Park on Sept. 3-4.

Cubs manager Pat Listach was not around for the final out after getting ejected by plate umpire Tyler Funneman in the seventh. Oklahoma counterpart Bobby Jones was tossed in the ninth.

Under Listach, Iowa put together a seven-game winning streak from Aug. 12-18 -- all against New Orleans -- to open a comfortable lead in the division. The Cubs lead the league with 80 wins and rank third with a .294 team batting average.

Micah Hoffpauir is Listach's most productive hitter, batting .368 with 23 homers and 92 RBIs in 66 games. Major League veteran Jason Dubois leads the team with 24 homers, while Torres has 24 stolen bases. Although Iowa is seventh in the PCL in homers, eight Cubs have reached double digits.

Mitch Atkins, who gave up three runs -- two earned -- on five hits over five innings on Sunday, won his first seven starts for Iowa following a promotion from Double-A Tennessee. Randy Wells leads the rotation with nine wins, one more than J.R. Mathes and Mike Burns.

Chris Shelton lifted a sacrifice fly in the first and Ryan Roberts added a two-run homer in the fifth to give Oklahoma the lead against Cubs starter Mitch Atkins.

Jesse Estrada (3-0) picked up the win in the clincher after allowing one hit over three shutout innings.

Joselo Diaz (1-6) allowed two runs on three hits over three innings for Oklahoma, which got a two-run homer from Ryan Roberts.

Danny Wild is a contributor This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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