Had Nashville lost their remaining two games with Southern Division champion Round Rock, and Iowa finished off a four-game sweep of Omaha Monday, the Cubs would have bested the Sounds by one game and been awarded the Northern Division title.
It was not to be. Nashville scored three runs in their first three innings on Sunday night and added an insurance run late to hold off the Express, 4-2.
"Unfortunately, our destiny wasn't in our hands," Sunday's Iowa starter Randy Wells said.
Wells turned in one of his betters outings since being promoted from AA in June. He went six innings, allowed one run on five hits, and struck out five.
First baseman/DH Jesse Hoorelbeke hasn't been with the Cubs long, but has already bonded with his new teammates after joining the club from an Independent team following a season-ending injury to Micah Hoffpauir (strained oblique) on Aug. 12.
The 28-year-old Hoorelbeke has hit only .200 in 13 games with Iowa, but had two hits Sunday, including a run-scoring double.
"I get along with all of these guys," Hoorelbeke said. "I've had a real good time here. All the guys I've met, there are a lot of good quality athletes, good talent and good skill here. It's a good team. I've had a lot of fun here."
Iowa tallied 12 hits in the win. Every starter with the rare exception of team MVP Michael Restovich recorded at least one hit with Hoorelbeke, Felix Pie, Casey McGehee and Jose Reyes each picking up two hits.
Pie hit his eighth triple and 15th home run to raise his average to .280 heading into the team's final game. The Cubs' consensus top prospect has 155 hits overall this season, placing third in the PCL – two behind Las Vegas' Wilson Valdez and 10 back of league-leader Alberto Callaspo of Tucson.
Third baseman Scott Moore was promoted to Iowa late Saturday night and started his Iowa debut at short. He finished 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored after hitting .276 with a career-high 22 home runs at West Tenn.
Moore was named to the Southern League post-season All-Star team for his efforts and is hoping his next call-up will take him to Wrigley Field.
"It's something that's crossed my mind," Moore told Inside The Ivy last week after being informed of his post-season nod. "I don't know what's going to happen, but I'm going to finish out ... and whatever happens will happen. Hopefully everything will work out. It's not something I have control over."
Meanwhile, second baseman Eric Patterson, who earned the Southern League's "Top Hustler" award, drove in two runs and is batting .355 since he was promoted from Double-A over two weeks ago. Patterson has seven multi-hit games in 16 games overall with Iowa.
The Cubs will face the Royals again Monday in both teams' Triple-A season finale beginning at 1:35 p.m. CDT.
"You always want to make the playoffs, but what can you do?" Wells said of missing out on the playoffs in favor of the Sounds. "They're a better team right now and have been playing well all year. The way we're playing, there's no doubt in my mind that we could beat those guys right now."