Down to their final four outs and looking like their 65-day grip on first place was about to come loose, the Omaha Storm Chasers pulled together a late rally and stunned the (still) second-place Memphis Redbirds 6-2 Tuesday afternoon at Werner Park. The knockout punch was delivered by Kila Ka’aiahue, who launched a two out, bottom-of-the-ninth, 3-1 pitch just over the wall in deep right-center to clear the bases and set off the first home plate celebration in Werner Park history.
The two-out rally in the bottom of the eighth was the catalyst to the comeback, sparked by an opposite field double by Clint Robinson. After Joaquin Arias pinch ran and Ka’aihue was walked intentionally, Lorenzo Cain laid off a couple tough pitches before dropping a single into shallow right field to tie the score at 2-2. Robinson and Cain each entered the game hitless in their last four contests, but had a pair of hits in this one.
In the ninth, Manny Pina and Irving Falu started the inning with singles, followed by a beautiful sacrifice bunt by Mike Aviles. Aviles, who homered earlier in the afternoon, now has seven long balls in 18 games with Omaha this season. Johnny Giavotella drew an intentional walk to set up the force at home, and Arias (batting in Robinson’s spot) popped to shallow right for the second out. That set up the final at-bat for Ka’aihue, who had yet to hit a home run at Werner Park before his game-winner.