Christian Colon collected three hits, scored a run and drove in a run to lead Omaha to a 4-1 decision over Memphis Monday night in the opener of a four-game series at AutoZone Park. The Storm Chasers won their second straight to improve to 53-48 and moved to within a half-game of division-leading Iowa, which lost to New Orleans, in the American Conference North.
Randal Grichuk tripled with one out in the first inning and scored on a Stephen Piscotty sacrifice fly to produce the game’s first run against Buddy Baumann, who was making his third spot start for Omaha. The left-hander allowed three hits, walked one and fanned three over his four frames and was followed to the hill by Michael Mariot, who worked a scoreless fifth. Louis Coleman took over and earned the victory after he struck out three during two shutout frames before giving way to Casey Coleman, who spun two scoreless innings to earn the save and sew up the visitors eighth consecutive win in a series starter in Memphis.
The Storm Chasers put their lead-off man on base in each of the first four frames, and twice had two runners on with nobody out, but could not dent the scoreboard against Tim Cooney. However, they broke through in the fifth when Whit Merrifield reached on an error, moved to second base on a Colon single and scored to tie the game on a Justin Maxwell base hit. The Memphis lefty lasted six innings, yielding just that lone unearned run on six hits while walking a pair and fanning four in his third start against Omaha this season.
The visitors used a very similar formula to score the go-ahead and eventual winning run in the seventh after Colon singled, moved to second on a walk to Maxwell, the first non-intentional free pass issued by Dean Kiekhefer in 36 innings, and raced home on a single by Matt Fields, who drove in his team-best 59th run of the campaign. Merrifield and Colon then delivered back-to-back run-scoring hits in the eighth to finish off the scoring and send the Chasers to their 28th win in 51 road contests.
The series continues Tuesday night with Omaha right-hander Clay Mortensen taking the mound against Memphis southpaw Marco Gonzales.