Whit Merrifield drove in the game-winning run in a two-run ninth inning surge that carried Omaha to a compelling 4-3 come from behind win over Iowa Thursday night in the last of a five-game set in front of 13,006 at Principal Park. The Storm Chasers halted a five-game skid to improve to 45-42 and move to within two and a half games of the front-running Cubs in the American Conference North Division.
Tsuyoshi Wada blanked the Storm Chasers over the seventh and eighth innings and carried a 3-2 lead into the ninth but got himself into trouble by walking the leadoff man Jimmy Paredes. The Iowa left-hander uncorked a wild pitch and the subsequent errant throw to second base by the catcher Rafael Lopez allowed Paredes to reach third base with one out from where he scored to tie the game on a base hit by Francisco Pena, who was named to the PCL All-Star team earlier in the day. Wada got Logan Davis to pop out and was lifted in favor of Zac Rosscup, who saw his first pitch laced into the alley in left-center field by Merrifield to chase home Pena with the decisive run. Louis Coleman tossed a scoreless bottom of the ninth to sew up the win and help the visitors avoid being swept for the first time in a five-game series in their PCL history.
Pena singled with one out, moved to second base when Davis followed with a base hit and scored on a two-out double by Brian Bocock to give the Chasers the lead in the third and mark the eighth time on the nine-game road trip that they had scored first. Carlos Peguero belted a solo home run, his fourth in seven games since his return from the disabled list on Saturday, to increase the visitors advantage to 2-0 in the fourth. The hosts got the run back in the bottom half of the frame on a run-scoring ground out by Josh Vitters that plated Javy Baez, who had started the rally with a leadoff single.
Arismendy Alcantara doubled to drive in Matt Szczur with the tying run and advance Brett Jackson to third from where he scored on a wild pitch to give the I-Cubs the lead at 3-2 in the fifth. Omaha starter Aaron Brooks then struck out Ryan Kalish, Baez and Kris Bryant to strand Alcantara at third and keep it a one-run game and finish off his five frames during which he allowed seven hits, walked one and struck out six. Iowa starter Dallas Beeler tossed six innings, allowing the pair of runs on eight hits while issuing a pair of walks and fanning four.
The Chasers return home to celebrate Independence Day at home for the first time in the four-year history of Werner Park with left-hander John Lamb taking the hill against Colorado Springs southpaw Brian Burress.