By Will Bellamy
WEST SACRAMENTO — The Sacramento River Cats kept things simple against the Iowa Cubs on Monday afternoon.
Instead of swinging for the fences, the Cats took what was given to them and relied on a healthy dose of small ball to get the job done. They knocked in 13 singles en route to a 5-1 takedown of the Cubs at Raley Field.
The win capped off a four-game series, which Sacramento (41-30) took 3-1.
The River Cats also benefited from strong performances by their pitchers, who combined to hold Iowa (34-34) to five hits in 31 at-bats.
Local starter Matt Buschmann fanned six while surrendering only one run over the course of six innings, while reliever Fernando Rodriguez fared even better, striking out three batters on 10 pitches in the top of the seventh and pitching into the eighth. He was replaced by Justin Marks, who added two more strikeouts and made sure Iowa never came close to rallying.
Meanwhile, second baseman Tyler Ladendorf and center fielder Shane Peterson led the way offensively for Sacramento. The two hitters, who each went 3-for-4, combined to kick off the Cats’ scoring in the bottom of the first. With two outs, Ladendorf belted a single into left field, before advancing to third and then scoring on hits by Daric Barton and Peterson, respectively.
Peterson knocked Ladendorf home once more in the third to give Sacramento a 2-0 advantage. The Cubs fired back with a home run by Ryan Kalish in the top of the sixth, but the River Cats buried them in the bottom of the inning.
Colin Walsh singled, Ryan Ortiz hit a ground-rule double and Jake Elmore drew an intentional walk to load the bases. The three then scored on singles by Andy Parrino and Ladendorf to give the Cats their 5-1 lead.
Every player in the local lineup notched at least one hit as Sacramento finished with 14 overall.
With the win, the River Cats maintained their precarious grip on the best record in the Pacific Coast League. The Reno Aces, one of the Cats’ Pacific North rivals, the Las Vegas 51’s and the Omaha Storm Chasers are all close behind as each is 40-31.
Immediately after Monday’s victory — so quickly in fact that players and coaches were unavailable to the press — Sacramento left for Texas, where it will play a four-game series against the Round Rock Express. The set begins Tuesday at 5:05 p.m.