METAIRIE- Stephen Bruno’s pinch-hit RBI single with two outs in the top of the ninth inning provided the winning run as the Iowa Cubs defeated the New Orleans Baby Cakes, 4-3 on Friday night.
The teams split the four-game series and have each won four of eight meetings this season.
Trailing 3-1 going into the bottom of the eighth, the Baby Cakes rallied for a pair of runs to tie the game. In his first game since returning from a stint with the Miami Marlins, J.T. Riddle tucked a home run inside the left field foul pole to lead off the inning and draw the ‘Cakes within a run.
Brandon Barnes then laced a single to right and raced home on Destin Hood’s game-tying double into the right field corner. Hood was thrown out attempting to get to third base on the play, preventing a bigger inning.
Iowa quickly responded in the ninth, capitalizing on Hunter Cervenka’s leadoff walk to Mark Zagunis. After a sacrifice bunt, Cervenka struck out Todd Glaesmann but could not retire Bruno, whose flare to center field dropped to score Zagunis.
Ramon Cabrera tried to rally the ‘Cakes in the bottom of the ninth with a leadoff single and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt, but Felix Pena recovered to retire the next two batters to nail down his second save.
The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second against Baby Cakes starter Justin Nicolino. A leadoff double by Jeimer Candelario and a single by Victor Caratini put runners at the corners, and Zagunis drove in a run with a single to center ahead of a sac fly by Taylor Davis.
New Orleans answered in the bottom half of the frame to slice the deficit in half on doubles by Matt den Dekker and Cabrera.
Ian Happ slugged his Pacific Coast League-leading seventh home run of the year in the sixth inning to stretch Iowa’s lead to 3-1.
Dylan Floro (1-0) was credited with the win despite suffering a blown save in relief of I-Cubs starter Eddie Butler, who scattered eight hits in six innings but limited the ‘Cakes to one run.
Nicolino turned in his first quality start of the year, allowing three runs and seven hits in seven innings. Cervenka (0-2) took the loss.
The Baby Cakes continue their homestand on Saturday at 6 p.m. with the opener of a four-game set against the Omaha Storm Chasers.