Pedro Ciriaco scored the game-winning run in the tenth inning as Omaha overcame an early deficit to defeat Memphis, 3-2, Thursday night in the last of four meetings at AutoZone Park. The Storm Chasers improved to 54-50 and stayed within two and a half games of front-running Iowa in the American Conference North Division.
Ciriaco led off the tenth against Eric Fornataro with an infield hit and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Paul Janish, his second of the night. Whit Merrifield then hit a slow bouncer to third that Pete Kozma fielded but his throw to first base couldn’t be handled by Xavier Scruggs, allowing Ciriaco to score the decisive run. Casey Coleman then completed his third inning of scoreless relief by getting Shane Robinson to ground into a game-ending double play to earn the win, as the two teams wound up splitting their eight games in Tennessee.
Memphis started the scoring for the third time in the series with a first inning solo home run from Scott Moore and made it 2-0 in the second on a run-scoring single from Ed Easley, as both runs came across with two outs. The Storm Chasers manufactured a run in the third to halve the lead when Ciriaco singled, stole second, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a Merrifield fly ball and then tied it when Carlos Peguero blasted a lead off long ball in the fourth.
Johnny Giavotella singled to open the sixth inning and advanced to third on a Peguero base hit, which spelled the end of the night for Memphis starter Zach Petrick, who permitted eight hits, walked two and fanned three over his five-plus frames. Heath Wyatt took over and his first pitch got past the catcher Easley allowing Peguero to move up to second base. After Giavotella was tagged out in a run down and Francisco Pena was intentionally passed to load the bases, Brian Bocock grounded into an inning-ending double play as a once promising threat fizzled out.
Omaha starter Aaron Brooks worked seven solid innings and left in a 2-2 game after giving up six hits, walking one and striking out seven. The Chasers are now 13-3 in the games the right-hander has started this season.
Omaha will send left-hander John Lamb to the hill in Friday’s series opener in New Orleans against Zephyrs southpaw Brian Flynn. Coverage of the game gets underway at 6:45 pm