Hits and runs were at a premium.
So was warmth.
Jamie Romak drew a bases-loaded walk in the top of the eighth inning to break a 1-1 tie, and Memphis added another run in the ninth to beat Omaha 3-1 Friday night.
The Redbirds pulled into a tie with the Storm Chasers atop the PCL’s American Northern Division on another unseasonably cold night at Werner Park, with most of the paid crowd of 2,502 staying home rather than enduring the elements.
With a north wind gusting at up to 20 mph, the wind chill was 40 degrees at game time and was in the mid-30s before it ended.
In addition to scoring the go-ahead run on the bases-loaded walk, Memphis’ other two runs came when Omaha made errors.
“It’s hard to get upset with anybody,” Omaha manager Mike Jirschele said. “Because really, both those teams played the game just to get it in.
“The team that walked the most and didn’t control the ball on defense was going to lose the game, and that’s what happened. We walked eight and had two errors.”
Omaha reliever Blaine Boyer, who hadn’t walked a batter all season, walked the first two he faced — Ryan Jackson and Romak — after inheriting two baserunners from George Sherrill (0-1).
Memphis started its winning rally with a one-out single by Kolten Wong. Wong stole second base with two outs, and then Sherrill walked Brock Peterson intentionally before the Chasers called upon Boyer.
Memphis added another run in the ninth off Boyer. J.R. Towles walked, then scored as catcher Brett Hayes fielded Greg Garcia’s sacrifice bunt and threw to second base — the ball deflected off Towles and past center fielder Willy Taveras, who was backing up the play, for a two-base error.
Sam Freeman (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the win, while Eric Fornataro pitched a scoreless inning and Victor Marte struck out the side while pitching around a single in the ninth for his sixth save.
Memphis pitchers retired 20 of the final 22 batters they faced.
Each team had just three hits, all of them singles.
“They threw some good arms out there,” Jirschele said. “These guys have a good pitching staff. It’s going to be a tough series.”
Omaha’s Christian Colon snapped a 0-for-16 slump with a bloop single down the right-field line on a 0-2 pitch, scoring Irving Falu with the game’s first run in the bottom of the third.
It was Omaha’s last hit until Xavier Nady’s one-out single in the ninth.
The run was the first allowed in 32 innings this season by Memphis starter John Gast, snapping a franchise-record 38-inning scoreless streak dating to last season.
Gast worked five innings, allowing one run on two hits while walking four and striking out five. Gast, who had previously walked only seven in his first 292⁄3 innings, saw his league-best ERA rise from 0.00 to 0.26.
Memphis tied the game in the fifth as Jackson singled for the first hit off Omaha starter Will Smith, moved to third after Smith issued two walks, then scored on a two-out error by third baseman Brandon Wood.
“I just chalk it up as a very cold game, just miserable to be out there,” Jirschele said. “I’m happy we got through it without getting anybody hurt.”
Contact the writer:
402-444-1027, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/RWhiteOWH