The Oklahoma RedHawks went into Tuesday afternoon's game against the Iowa Cubs looking to complete a four-game sweep.
Sean Gallagher made sure that didn't happen. The 22-year-old right-hander tied a career-high with 12 strikeouts as the Cubs coasted to a 4-1 victory.
In what was far and away his best start of the young season, Gallagher (2-1) allowed a run on three hits over 7 2/3 innings. His 12 strikeouts were the most he has accumulated in a ballgame since July 8, 2006, when he accomplished the feat with the Double-A West Tenn Diamond Jaxx.
"I've been working with our pitching coach [Mike Mason] on fastball location and command, and that was the difference in the game for me today," said Gallagher, who made eight appearances with the Chicago Cubs last season. "I was also fortunate to have both my breaking balls and the changeup working as well, so I was able to stay aggressive and really go after the hitters."
Making Gallagher's strong outing even more satisfying was that it happened against a powerful Oklahoma RedHawks lineup that had averaged nearly seven runs a game entering play on Tuesday.
"The fact that this game came against the RedHawks made it even better, because that team is stacked with players who have spent time in the Majors," said Gallagher, who is the only Iowa starter to have recorded a victory this season. "When you face a team like that, it serves as a real test of your abilities."
With his pitch count at 101 after 7 2/3 innings, Gallagher was lifted in favor of reliever Jose Ascaino. The 22-year-old retired all four batters he faced en route to his fifth save of the season.
The Cubs' lineup provided Gallagher with plenty of support in the early going. Eric Patterson singled to lead off the game, and eventually scored on Jake Fox's groundout. Luis Figueroa and Bobby Scales went yard in the second and third frames, respectively.
Elizardo Ramirez (3-2) took the loss, yielding four runs -- three earned -- on nine hits over 5 2/3 frames. Steve Rowe hurled 1 1/3 perfect frames before Kameron Loe was touched for a run in the eighth.
Chris Shelton's fourth-inning dinger accounted for the RedHawks' lone run.