Omaha thought it was one out away from victory.
It wound up taking another inning, but Johnny Giavotella's RBI single up the middle eventually gave the Storm Chasers a 5-4, 10-inning win Friday night over Iowa.
“Between him and David (Lough), those are the two guys we'd want up there in that situation right now,” Omaha manager Mike Jirschele said.
It might not have gotten to Giavotella's 10th-inning heroics before a Werner Park crowd of 4,842, but Brad Nelson's pinch-hit, two-run homer with one out in the top of the ninth tied the game for Iowa.
The opposite-field homer off Michael Mariot came two pitches after the Chasers thought Nelson was unable to check his swing on a ball in the dirt that would have been strike three.
Home plate umpire Chris Segal appealed to third base umpire Jordan Ferrell, who was stationed on the first base side of second in the three-umpire alignment and ruled that Nelson hadn't swung. After the homer, Jirschele was ejected for arguing.
“I just felt he went around,” Jirschele said. “And they didn't think he did.”
Mariot recovered and wound up getting the victory after finishing the ninth and pitching a scoreless 10th.
“Mariot did a great job in that situation,” Giavotella said. “We felt like he got the strikeout, but unfortunately we didn't get the call. But he was able to settle down, which is tough in that particular moment, and kept it tied.”
In the bottom of the 10th, infield singles by Willy Taveras and Christian Colon, sandwiched around a two-strike sacrifice bunt by David Lough, set it up for Giavotella. The second baseman then delivered against Zach Putnam (0-1) on a one-ball, two-strike pitch.
“He threw some good pitches,” Giavotella said. “I missed a fastball the first pitch, felt like I should have done more with it. He threw me a good splitter for the second strike. But he left a splitter up a little bit and I was able to square it up and hit it into center field.”
Like Lough, who entered the series as the hottest hitter in minor league baseball, Giavotella has been on a tear. The second baseman, who also had a sacrifice fly, extended his hitting streak to eight games with his game-winner. He's hit .452 (14 for 31) during the streak to lift his average from .239 to .324.
“Dave and CC (Colon) are both swinging the bats well and that dictates what kind of at-bat I'm going to have,” Giavotella said. “I really thrive on hitting with guys on base, and they're doing a great job.”
Omaha starter Chris Dwyer had been in line to become the PCL's first four-game winner before Iowa rallied. The left-hander turned in a fourth straight quality start, allowing two runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out five in seven innings to lower his ERA to 2.56.
“He definitely threw well enough to win the game,” Jirschele said.
Brandon Wood's seventh-inning solo homer broke a 2-2 tie and had given Omaha the lead.
Omaha made it 4-2 in the eighth as Lough doubled, went to third on a sacrifice by Colon and scored on Giavotella's sacrifice fly.
But Iowa had a late rally left.
Omaha took a 1-0 lead in the third inning as Lough tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Colon.
But Iowa came right back in the top of the fourth with Ryan Sweeney's two-run homer, his fifth.
The Chasers tied it in the bottom of the fourth on a solo homer by Max Ramirez.
» STORM TRACKING: Will Smith, who had been scheduled to start for Omaha on Saturday, will instead serve as the 26th man on the Kansas City roster for its Sunday doubleheader, the second time in a week he’s been summoned to the majors for that purpose. … Giavotella has a 16-game on-base streak. … Omaha extended its lead in the PCL’s American Conference North to 1 1⁄2 games over Memphis, which lost 2-1 to Nashville on Friday.
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