Pedro Ciriaco drove in a pair of runs and Ben Broussard collected three hits and a run batted in to lead Omaha to a 6-3 triumph over Salt Lake Sunday afternoon in the second of four meetings at Spring Mobile Ballpark. The Storm Chasers improved to 59-57 and moved 2 ½ games in front of the Memphis Redbirds, pending the outcome of their game later this evening, in the American Conference North Division. Omaha has won 10 out of 11 and 23 out of 33 to move two games over the .500 mark for the first time since May 21.
Brian Fletcher singled with two outs in the first inning, moved to second base after Broussard walked, advanced to third on a Jarrett Grube wild pitch and scored the game’s first run on a fielding error by shortstop Andrew Romine on a Ciriaco grounder. Christian Colon and Fletcher drew one-out walks in the third in front of Broussard, who singled to knock in Colon to make it 2-0, and Ciriaco, who singled to load the bases. Quintin Berry grounded into a force out at the plate but Paulo Orlando kept the inning going with a walk that brought Broussard home to push the margin to three. The Bees got on the board in the bottom of the frame on an RBI hit by Grant Green but Storm Chasers starter Yordano Ventura struck out Efren Navarro and got Roberto Lopez to ground out to end the inning and leave a pair of runners on board, which was a theme for the Bees, who stranded a dozen throughout the contest.
Omaha quickly restored a three-run lead when Gorkys Hernandez led off the fourth with a triple and scored on an Irving Falu fly ball. Colon followed with a single and Fletcher walked to spell the end of the line for Grube, who took the loss after he yielded six runs on five hits, walked six and struck out one over just 3 1/3 innings. Buddy Boshers took over and gave up a single to Broussard that loaded the bases for Ciriaco, who doubled to drive in a pair to extend the visitors lead to 6-1.
Ventura reached his pitch count and was removed after allowing a run on five hits while walking two and striking out six over four frames. Brian Sanches came on and surrendered a run-scoring hit to Lopez in the fifth that trimmed the hosts deficit to 6-2 but avoided further damage by striking out his former Marlins teammate Scott Cousins and Robbie Widlansky with a runner at third. The veteran right-hander stranded another pair of runners in the seventh but gave up a run on a Drew Heid ground out in the eighth that accounted for the final margin. Donnie Joseph yielded two hits before he got the last out in the eighth and then retired the side in order in the ninth to preserve Omaha’s eighth consecutive road win.
The series continues Monday evening with Omaha left-hander Chris Dwyer making the start against Salt Lake, and former Omaha, right-hander Billy Buckner.