July 11, 2014

Errors costly to Storm Chasers

The Omaha Storm Chasers (15-12) fell in to a first place tie in the American Conference Northern Division with the Memphis Redbirds (15-12), as the division rival scored all three of its runs on two Omaha errors and a bases loaded walk to take the series opener 3-1. It was the Chasers fourth loss in their last five games.

The Storm Chasers struck first in the game in the third inning when Christian Colon broke 0-for-16 slump with a RBI single off Memphis starter John Gast. Gast came in to the game riding a 29.2 scoreless innings streak that reached 32.0 innings before the Colon single, which was a Memphis Redbirds record. After the Colon single, 18 of the next 19 Storm Chasers batters were retired as Gast and three Redbirds relievers did not allow a hit until a ninth inning single by Xavier Nady.

Memphis only managed one run off Storm Chasers starter Will Smith, who allowed two hits and one unearned run in his six innings of work for his third quality start of the season. The one run surrendered by Smith was on a two-out bases loaded error by third baseman Brandon Wood, and the left-hander has only allowed two runs in his last 18.0 innings. With his five strikeouts on the night Smith upped his team-leading total to 36 this season.

The Redbirds scored the go-ahead run on three consecutive two-out walks in the eighth inning, two by reliever Blaine Boyer who entered the game with no walks in his first nine appearances this season. In the ninth inning, Memphis scored an insurance run on a throwing error by Omaha catcher Brett Hayes that allowed Redbirds catcher J.R. Towles to score all the way from first base. The Chasers could not muster any ninth inning magic as pinch-hitter Anthony Seratelli and Hayes both struck out as the tying run to end the game.

The two teams combined for six hits in the game, the fewest combined hits in a Storm Chasers game this season. The loss drops Omaha’s record against the Redbirds to 35-45 over the last five seasons, the only divisional opponent the Chasers have a losing record against during that span.

A matchup of two hot pitchers highlights the second game of the series as Omaha left-hander Chris Dwyer (3-1, 2.56), who has strung together four straight quality starts, will face off with top-ten Cardinals prospect in right-hander Michael Wacha (3-0, 1.86) with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.