ROUND ROCK, Texas — For the first time in nearly two seasons, the Omaha Storm Chasers aren’t in first place.
Round Rock claimed a 3-1 victory Thursday night in the Pacific Coast League season opener at Dell Diamond.
Omaha, which reached the PCL championship series in both 2011 and 2012, had held at least a share of first place in the PCL’s American Conference North Division since April 23, 2011, for a total of 269 games.
Nashville won its opener Thursday to take a one-game lead over Omaha, while Memphis was rained out and as a result is a half-game ahead of Omaha. Iowa played later Thursday night.
Round Rock’s Nick Tepesch, set to make his next appearance as Texas’ fifth starter, allowed one run — unearned — on five hits over five innings to get the win. He struck out five and didn’t walk a batter. The former Missouri pitcher, who was a combined 11-6 with a 3.67 ERA between Classes A and AA last season, was a 14th-round pick in 2010.
Omaha’s Will Smith also turned in a strong opening-day start, striking out 11 while allowing two runs on six hits over five innings. Smith, who walked two, hadn’t struck out more than 10 batters since Aug. 24, 2010, when he fanned a career-high 12 while pitching for high Class A Wilmington.
Round Rock scored twice in the third inning on an Aaron Cunningham sacrifice fly and an RBI double by Mike Olt.
Omaha got a run back in the fifth on an RBI groundout by David Lough.
The Express made it 3-1 in the seventh, as Engel Beltre was picked off first base but scored as a result of two Omaha throwing errors.
Beltre had two hits for Round Rock, while Xavier Nady had three of Omaha’s seven hits, including two doubles.
Nady doubled to lead off the ninth, but former big-league All-Star Evan Meek retired the next three hitters to pick up the save.
Omaha made a flurry of moves Thursday to get down to the PCL active roster limit of 25 players, as six players were sent to the disabled list.
As expected, starting pitcher Justin Marks (left groin) and relievers Buddy Baumann (right thigh) and Anthony Ortega (left shin) were placed on the disabled list. Joining them were first baseman Chad Tracy (left calf), infielder Freddy Sandoval (right shoulder) and reliever George Sherrill (left elbow).
Sandoval and Sherrill hadn’t been on the most recent Omaha roster.
Sherrill has a 3.77 ERA and 56 saves over nine seasons at the major-league level — with 52 of his career saves coming between 2008 and 2009. The left-hander pitched briefly last year with Seattle.
Sandoval, 30, who played briefly in the majors in 2008 and 2009, is a career .308 hitter at the Class AAA level. He played last season with Somerset of the independent Atlantic League, hitting .250 in 53 games.
Omaha went 13-3 against Round Rock last season.
The series continues at 7:05 p.m. Friday, as Omaha left-hander Chris Dwyer faces Round Rock righty Justin Grimm.