NEW ORLEANS, La. — Chris Rusin, a left-handed pitcher, became the first Iowa pitcher to throw a no-hitter in 30 years as the Cubs beat the New Orleans Zephyrs, 3-0 at Zephyr Field Wednesday afternoon.
Rusin also had two hits and drove in two runs to lead the Cubs (18-13) to their third straight victory, and a 2-0 lead in this series.
The last time an Iowa pitcher tossed a no-hitter was Aug. 21, 1984, when Reggie Patterson accomplished the feat in a 2-0 victory against Omaha. This is the seventh triple-A no-hitter in Iowa franchise history and the first since the club joined the Pacific Coast League in 1998. The first six came when the team competed in the American Association.
The Zephyrs (14-20) had three men reach against Rusin (2-4) in the game. Josh Rodriguez drew a one-out walk in the first inning and a leadoff walk in the seventh. In between, Rusin set down 17 in a row, with only one near hit.
Jake Marisnick hit a bouncing ball up the middle in the sixth inning that took a funny hop. Cubs’ shortstop Javy Baez jumped to snare it and fired to first to complete the play.
Rusin was at 104 pitches through eight innings and it wasn’t clear if he would get a chance to try to complete the game as the Cubs had action in the bullpen during the top of the ninth inning. When Rusin did come out for the bottom of the ninth, Blake Parker stayed loose in the bullpen just in case he was needed.
Kyle Skipworth led off the bottom of the ninth and made contact with Luis Flores’ glove on a swing to reach first base on catcher’s interference. He advanced to second on a wild pitch before Rusin got Zack Cox to line out softly to Baez for the first out of the inning.
Matt Angle was next and he hit the first pitch back to Rusin on the mound for the second out of the inning. The last man that stood between Rusin and history was Rodriguez. The infielder worked a full count before hitting a pop fly off the end of his bat to shallow center field. Matt Szczur came streaking in and made a diving catch to end the game and preserve the no-hitter.
The Cubs scored all three of their runs in the top of the second inning against Zephyrs’ starter Matt Montgomery. With one out, Josh Vitters singled and moved to third on a base hit by Christian Villanueva. Villanueva stole second before a walk to Brett Jackson loaded the bases. Vitters scored on a passed ball for the first run.
Flores drew another walk to load the bases again for Rusin, who lined the first pitch over the shortstop for a base hit that drove in two for his first RBI of the year. Rusin also added a single in the fourth inning.