I-Cubs Clinch!

DES MOINES, Iowa - It was a dogfight 'til the very end, but the Iowa Cubs pulled it off, defeating Omaha Sunday for their first Pacific Coast League Central division title since 2001.

Russ Johnson stroked two homeruns to help John Koronka win his staff-leading 12th game in an 8-4 Iowa victory. The win, coupled with New Orleans' 12-5 victory over Colorado Springs, gave Iowa the crown.

Johnson, the Cubs' hottest hitter this month with 8 hits in 17 at-bats, recorded his second multi-homer game this season at the expense of Royals starter Jason Ryan. It was Johnson's 13th and 14th homeruns of the year, respectively. Ryan (1-3) gave up seven earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. He also allowed a season-high 11 hits in his Omaha tenure this season.

Gookie Dawkins helped to make Ryan's afternoon even more miserable, adding a two-run single and RBI double as part of a three-RBI afternoon. Dawkins has hit .333 at home in 36 games this season.

Koronka (12-9) didn't quite have his best stuff in his 29th start of the year. He gave up two homeruns, which lead to three Omaha runs in six innings of work. The left-hander also allowed six hits while striking out three. Koronka officially closed out the regular season logging 153 1/3 innings--the most by a Cubs starter this year.

Lost in all of the celebration was the performance of right-hander Joe Borowski, who pitched a perfect seventh inning and did not allow a ball to leave the infield.

Now that the Cubs have clinched the division title, they meet Omaha for the 2004 regular season finale this Labor Day Monday at 1:05 CT. Jimmy Anderson will get the start for Iowa.

Get your I-Cubs playoff tickets by phoning 515-243-6111 or visiting the box office at Principal Park.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Here now is a look at several statistics that helped the Cubs clinch their first division title in three years.

OFFENSE:

-After losing 10 of 11 games at one point down the stretch, the Cubs came alive once the calendar rolled over to September, going 5-0 with a staff ERA of 2.00 and a team batting average of .353. INF's Russ Johnson and Donny Leon helped lead the way, posting batting averages of .471 and .389, respectively. David Kelton and Jason Dubois also rebounded from late-August woes, batting .385 and .381 in September respectively and combining to hit four homeruns and drive in 12 RBIs.

-Veteran OF Trenidad Hubbard had the team's longest hitting streak this season, which reached 18 games back on May 31. Hubbard also had the longest Cubs on-base streak at 31 games between May 12-June 14.

-The Cubs have hit .295 with runners on base, .287 with RISP and .277 with RISP/2 outs.

-Iowa hitters have slugged 82 homeruns and batted .275 at home this season. On the road, they have cracked 75 homers while batting .287.

DEFENSE:

-The Cubs relief pitching was near spotless in the ninth inning this year, as the team was a perfect 66/66 when leading after eight innings. Michael Wuertz and Kevin Tolar were the Cubs' top setup men, particularly down the stretch. Wuertz (1-1, 2.42) has not been scored on in his last 11 outings and has given up earned runs in only one of his last 23 relief appearances. Meanwhile, Tolar (4-0, 3.51) has not been scored upon in his last nine innings total.

-LHPs John Koronka (12-9, 4.34) and Shawn Sedlacek (10-7, 4.32) were the only Cub starters to reach double-digits in wins this season. The two combined to log 284 2/3 innings. Koronka had a team-high five balks, as many as the rest of the pitching staff combined. Right-hander Sergio Mitre had the best ERA of the starting staff with a 2.98 mark in 15 starts.

-Iowa pitching cracked the 1,000 mark in strikeouts this season on Saturday night. Cub pitchers have fanned 1,012 this season. Overall this year, the Cubs have a staff ERA of 4.54.
THE REST OF THE FARM...: Zach Miner and the Greenville Braves combined to three-hit the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx in a 5-1 victory Sunday. The Jaxx season finale is Monday at 1:15 CT with Carmen Pignatiello getting the start. Lansing was outhit but still managed a 5-1 victory over Kane County, their third straight over the Cougars. Brian Dopirak's 10-game hitting streak came to an end Saturday but the 20-year-old right-handed slugger bounced back with an RBI double in Sunday's win. Ronald Bay started and went just two innings, marking the first time all year the right-hander was not awarded a quality start in 28 outings this season. The Lugnuts moved into a first place tie in the Midwest League East with West Michigan, who lost a heartbreaker to Cedar Rapids in extra innings Sunday, 4-3. They battle the Cougars again Monday at 1 PM CT. The Boise Hawks were beaten 7-5 in their regular season finale Sunday. Kyle Boyer continued his hot hitting, adding two hits and reaching base for the eighth straight start. Northwest League playoffs begin Monday in Boise, as the Hawks host the Vancouver Canadians beginning at 8:05 CT. J.R. Mathes will get the start in game one of the NLCS (Northwest League Championship Series).

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