The Iowa Cubs started their 2023 season on a high note, clinching their first win against the Columbus Clippers with an 11-5 victory at Principal Park on Friday.
The Clippers started off strong, scoring their first run in the first inning with a solo shot off of Adrian Sampson. However, the Cubs quickly retaliated with an RBI double from Matt Mervis, tying the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first. Iowa then took the lead in the following inning with Christopher Morel’s two-run single, followed by Morel scoring on a wild pitch, giving the Cubs a 4-1 lead.
Columbus fought back in the third inning, scoring three runs and tying the game at 4-4. But the Cubs were not to be denied, putting up big numbers in the next two innings with two runs in the third and five runs in the fourth, thanks to back-to-back home runs from David Bote and Mervis.
After four innings, the Cubs held an 11-4 lead, and their bullpen kept the Clippers at bay, surrendering just one unearned run in the sixth inning. Iowa’s offense was led by five of their nine starters who had multi-hit games, accounting for 11 of Iowa’s 14 hits. Nelson Velazquez went 2-5, Jake Slaughter went 2-5 with 3 RBI, and Mike Tauchman went 3-5 with an RBI.
The Cubs showcased a strong pitching performance, with each pitcher making valuable contributions to secure the win. Sampson started the game and pitched for four innings, giving up four runs, 3 of which were earned, on six hits. Sampson struggled with control, issuing four walks while striking out only two batters. Despite the shaky start, Sampson was able to limit the damage and keep the Cubs in the game.
In the top of the 5th inning, Ryan Borucki entered the game in relief of Sampson. Borucki pitched well, going 1 and 2/3 innings and allowing only one run, which was unearned, on one hit. He issued two walks but also struck out two batters, showcasing his ability to get key outs when needed. Borucki’s performance was crucial in maintaining the Cubs’ lead while setting up the bullpen for the later innings and securing him with the W.
After Borucki’s exit, Anthony Kay, Vinny Nittoli, and Rowan Wick each took turns on the mound, with each pitcher going an inning. Kay, Nittoli, and Wick each surrendered a walk and a hit, but they also each recorded a strikeout. Their solid performances allowed the Cubs to preserve their lead and eventually close out the game.
Overall, the Cubs’ pitching staff was effective in limiting the opposing team’s offense and keeping the game within reach for a hot-hitting offense that manufactured ten runs on 14 hits. This strong pitching performance, coupled with timely hitting and solid defense, was instrumental in securing the win for the Iowa Cubs. Iowa will look to continue their winning ways as they face Columbus in game two of their three-game series, scheduled for today with a 3:08 first pitch.