The Omaha Storm Chasers defeated the New Orleans Zephyrs 11-10 in a wild game to keep their four game lead in the Pacific Coast League’s North Division. There were 20 combined hits, each team had four errors, and there were five hit batters.
The Zephyrs jumped out to a 6-1 lead against Omaha starter Sean O’Sullivan through two innings. Kevin Pucetas came on in relief and threw 4.2 shutout innings and let the Storm Chasers offense go to work. They scored nine runs combined from the 4th inning through the 6th inning to take a 10-6 lead. The Zephyrs however made it interesting, as they scored three runs in the 8th and another in the 9th inning to cut the deficit to one. With the tying run on third base and two outs, Omaha closer Kelvin Herrera got Ramon Vazquez to ground out to end the game.
The NW Arkansas Naturals have gone flat with a playoff spot on the line. They have lost four in a row as they lost to the Tulsa Drillers 7-5. Tulsa is now just two games back of the Naturals for the second half title (the Drillers have won six in a row). Including Monday’s game, the two teams meet four more times before the end of the season.
Tulsa jumped all over Naturals starter Jake Odorizzi right from the beginning, as he allowed five runs over the first two innings. He did hang in there to last 5.1 innings, but he allowed six runs on seven hits. The Naturals cut the deficit to one run in the bottom of the 8th inning on Paulo Orlando’s solo homerun (one of his three hits), but Kevin Chapman allowed a solo homerun to Mike Zuanich in the top of the 9th inning and Dustin Molleken retired the Naturals in order in the bottom of the 9th inning.
Prior to the game, the Naturals did receive some reinforcements from the eliminated Wilmington Blue Rocks. Starting pitcher Elisaul Pimentel (who will start Wednesday night) and reliever Kendal Volz were promoted to fill the empty roster spots (Jeremy Jeffress, who left his last start when he took a ball off his ankle, and Mario Santiago, who took a ball off his hand, were both placed on the DL).
To replace the two pitchers the Blue Rocks lost, they gained right-hander Cole White from Kane County and Andrew Stueve from Rookie-ball.
Stueve arrived in Salem (or at the local airport) about 15 minutes prior to the first pitch. He ended up throwing two perfect innings of relief to earn the victory in the Blue Rocks 5-4 win over the Red Sox. With the game tied at 4-4 in the top of the 9th inning, the Blue Rocks scored without a hit. Whit Merrifield walked, took second base on an errant pickoff throw, and scored on two consecutive wild pitches from Red Sox reliever Jeremiah Bayer. This all came after a wild 7th inning.
The Blue Rocks took a 4-2 lead on Carlo Testa’s two-run inside-the-park homerun. Salem right fielder Bryce Brentz jumped at the wall to try and make the catch but hit the wall and fell down. He did not move while Testa circled the bases. Brentz did get up and climb onto the cart, as he was carted off the field (he was walking around in the clubhouse after the game). The Red Sox had already lost three-hole hitter Kolbrin Vitek in the middle of his 3rd inning at-bat. Salem tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the 7th inning against Blue Rocks reliever Ryan Dennick, as Miles Head drove in the tying run on a ball off Dennick’s glove (Head was hit three times in his previous at-bats against Blue Rocks starter Tyler Sample).
Sample allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits and four walks over five innings. Red Sox starter Anthony Ranaudo allowed two runs (none earned due to his two errors) on three hits and four walks over four innings (he has been limited over the last month). Ranaudo did strike out six.
With the playoff race coming down to the final week, the Kane County Cougars have fallen flat. Once in first place in the Midwest League’s Western Division, they have now fallen to four games back of the red-hit Quad Cities RiverBandits (who have won eight in a row). The Cougars lost 2-0 to the Peoria Chiefs (and have lost four in a row). The hard luck loser for the Cougars was Yordan Ventura, who allowed two runs on five hits over five innings. One of those runs came on Richard Jones’ solo homerun. The Cougars collected just one hit in the game, a Jake Kuebler single off Chiefs starter Luis Liria.