Minor leaguer Matt Szczur preserves no-hitter with diving catch on final play

Iowa Cubs pitcher Chris Rusin threw a no-hitter in their 3-0 victory over the New Orleans Zephyrs on Wednesday, which by itself is a story that will draw plenty of attention to the Chicago Cubs Triple-A affiliate. However, center fielder Matt Szczur earned a few headlines himself and may have actually stolen the show with his sensational diving catch on the final play of the game which preserved the historic performance.

They say the 27th and final out is often the most difficult one to get. You probably won't get much argument from Rusin, who watched as Josh Rodriguez's sinking liner to center field seemed destined to ruin his no-hit bid. However, Szczur came charging in full speed to make the diving catch and set off a huge celebration at Zephyr Field.

The great grab capped a ninth inning that definitely had its fair share of drama. The leadoff batter in the inning, Kyle Skipworth, started by reaching on catcher's interference when catcher Luis Flores' glove made contact with his bat and hindered his swing. As a result, Skipworth was awarded first base and Flores was charged with an error.

Though it had no bearing on the no-hitter, catcher's interference absolutely would have spoiled a perfect game had it still been in tact. As it is, Rusin, who walked two earlier in the game, gets the Iowa Cubs first no-hitter since Reggie Patterson no-hit the Omaha Royals on Aug. 21, 1984, and the first in the Pacific Coast League since 2009. 

The 27-year-old left-hander also struck out three. He needed 118 pitches to complete the game and perhaps put himself on the radar for another in season call up. He already made one five inning relief appearance for the big league Cubs against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 12, holding them to one run on three hits. He made an additional 20 starts for Chicago over the past two seasons, posting a 4-9 record with a 4.69 ERA.  

Szczur, 24, was a fifth round pick by the Cubs in 2010. In five minor league seasons, he's hitting .284/.352/.395. He's also currently on the Cubs 40-man roster and may be a young player the Cubs take a look at as this season gets further and further away from them. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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