Vin Mazzaro, Manny Pina and the Omaha Storm Chasers pulled out a hard-fought 7-2 victory over the Round Rock Express Thursday night, taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series. The Chasers will return home to Werner Park Friday, needing just one victory to advance to the Pacific Coast League Championship Series.
Just as they did in their Game 1 shutout, Omaha grabbed an early 3-0 lead.
In the top of the second, Kila Ka’aihue’s leadoff single was followed by a bunt base hit by Irving Falu and an infield single by Joaquin Arias, loading the bases with nobody out. Manny Pina coaxed an eight-pitch walk to put the Chasers on the board, and Kurt Mertins and Jarrod Dyson followed with a sacrifice fly and a run-scoring sacrifice bunt, respectively, making it 3-0.
Round Rock snapped its 10-inning scoreless streak in the bottom of the second against starting and winning pitcher Vin Mazzaro (1-0). After Mazzaro retired the first four hitters of the game in order, he walked Joey Butler and allowed a first-pitch, two-run homer to Val Majewski to give the Express what turned out to be their only two runs of the night. Mazzaro went on to record 15 consecutive outs, taking a one-hitter into the seventh.
After Mazzaro froze Brad Nelson for his 15th-straight out to start the seventh, Chad Tracy hit a weak bouncer to the right of Irving Falu and beat the throw to first for a single. Joey Butler then looped an inside pitch softly into right for another base-hit, and Val Majewski ripped a single to right to load the bases and put the tying run into scoring position. Willy Lebron came in and got Luis Cruz to bounce into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play, preserving the 4-2 lead.
From there, Omaha tacked on three more insurance runs.