Luke Montz belted the game-winning three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift New Orleans past Omaha, 5-2, Sunday afternoon in the third of a four-game set at Zephyr Field. The Storm Chasers dipped to 30-21 after losing for the fifth time in their last eight games.
Francisley Bueno, who had not allowed a run in his last five outings, opened the decisive frame on the hill for Omaha and allowed a one-out single to Scott Cousins and walked Mike Cervenak with two away. Montz then drilled a 1-1 offering over the wall in left field for his 10th home run of the season.
Sandy Rosario set down the first two hitters in the top of the ninth before Clint Robinson doubled and moved to third on a Tony Abreu single. However, David Lough was called out on strikes to end the game as Rosario nailed down his league-best 13th save.
The Zephyrs manufactured the game’s first run in the third when Nick Green singled with one out, advanced to second base on a wild pitch and scored on a looping two-out single by Gil Velazquez and extended their lead to 2-0 in the fourth on Cervenak’s solo home run, his first of the season.
New Orleans starter J.D. Martin retired the first 12 batters he faced before Clint Robinson led off the fifth with a single, but, he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. The New Orleans right-hander retired the side in order in five of the first seven innings and didn’t allow a runner to reach second base until Omaha finally broke through in the eighth.
Anthony Seratelli doubled with two outs and scored when Max Ramirez followed with a two-base hit of his own to slice the deficit to 2-1 and chase Martin from the hill. Chris Hatcher took over and gave up a double to Kurt Mertins that delivered pinch-runner Ryan Eigsti with the tying run.
Storm Chasers starter Ryan Verdugo, who pitched for one season at LSU and makes his home in Baton Rouge, was lifted after seven innings during which he yielded a pair of runs on five hits while walking two and fanning five in a no-decision. Martin, who had allowed 13 runs over 9 1/3 innings in his last two starts at Colorado Springs and Reno, held the visitors to two runs on four hits while recording one strike out but also did not factor into the decision.
The series concludes Monday afternoon with Omaha right-hander Jake Odorizzi taking the hill against a New Orleans starter still to be determined.