Extra-inning games can sometimes fall into a predictable pattern.
“As soon as we walked the first hitter, as a manager you’re very concerned,” Omaha manager Mike Jirschele said.
Tucson pushed across the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th inning without hitting the ball more than 30 feet, and eventually scored three runs without a hit to beat Omaha 5-2 Tuesday night before 5,093 at Werner Park.
Jaff Decker opened the inning by drawing a walk against Michael Mariot (1-1), and then Omaha misplayed back-to-back sacrifice bunts.
First catcher Adam Moore threw late and wide to second base on Dean Anna’s bunt for an error.
“I thought it was a great decision,” Jirschele said. “You want to stay aggressive and get that lead runner. That’s what we teach. And if you make a good throw, he’s out.”
Same goes for the next play, Jirschele said, when Mariot threw late to third on a Daniel Robertson bunt to load the bases with no outs. Mariot didn’t initially get a good grip on the ball and double-clutched before making his throw.
“If he gets it and gets rid of it ... that’s what you want,” Jirschele said. “But once he didn’t, I don’t know if he would have had time to go back to first. I don’t think he would have had time to get Robertson.”
Then Mariot walked Gregorio Petit to force in the tying run.
There was some similarity between Tuesday and Omaha’s 12-inning loss to Memphis on May 6, when the Redbirds scored the go-ahead run after drawing a leadoff walk, then had their next two hitters — who were trying to sacrifice — reach base on a walk and a hit by pitch. The go-ahead run in that game — starting a seven-run inning — came on a wild pitch.
“As soon as somebody breaks the ice, that’s what seems to happen,” Jirschele said.
But while Memphis’ big inning included five hits, Tucson didn’t need any to get two more runs.
A second run scored as Brandon Allen grounded into a fielder’s choice against Atahualpa Severino after shortstop Christian Colon and second baseman Johnny Giavotella couldn’t get the turn at second base quickly enough. Severino walked Rene Rivera to force in the third run.
Previously, Omaha had a chance to win it, but Chad Tracy’s long drive to left in the bottom of the ninth was held up by a wind gusting to 19 mph and wound up a long fly out.
“In the late innings we had a couple of chances to score a run with one hit, but we just didn’t get it,” Jirschele said. “Tracy in the ninth ... any other day that’s probably up on the (clubhouse).”
Earlier, Tucson’s Clayton Richard turned in a second straight strong rehabilitation start, but settled for a no-decision.
Richard, the left-hander who was 14-14 with a 3.99 ERA for San Diego last season, pitched into the seventh inning, allowing two runs on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts in a 94-pitch outing.
Richard took a shutout into the sixth, but Christian Colon delivered a one-out triple and scored on a bloop single by Johnny Giavotella. Xavier Nady led off the seventh with a single to end Richard’s night, and Nady eventually scored on Tracy’s two-out single off Tommy Layne.
Richard started this season 0-4 with an 8.54 ERA in six big league starts before being placed on the disabled list with an intestinal virus. Richard, who lost 12 pounds while ill, made his first rehab start Thursday at Iowa, where he took the loss despite allowing one run on four hits with no walks and eight strikeouts in six innings.
“He looks like a big-league pitcher out there,” Jirschele said wryly.
Tucson got on the board quickly against Omaha starter Justin Marks, as Anna led off the game with a walk, moved to third on Robertson’s single off the glove of right fielder Irving Falu and scored on Yasmani Grandal’s RBI single. Allen drove in Robertson with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
But Marks rebounded to retire 19 of the final 22 batters he faced in a seven-inning outing. The left-hander gave up two runs on five hits while walking two and striking out four.
“First inning, too many balls up in the zone, but the ball goes off Falu’s glove and if he catches it, it’s a different game,” Jirschele said. “But after the first inning I thought he settled in and pitched well.”
STORM TRACKING: Xavier Nady put down a sacrifice bunt in the ninth inning, his first in 1,931 career minor-league plate appearances. He has seven sacrifices at the major-league level. … Omaha remained tied for first in the PCL's American Conference North.
Chasers to hold auctions for Oklahoma tornado relief
The Omaha Storm Chasers will use the remainder of their current homestand, which runs through Thursday, to attempt to raise money by holding silent auctions of Storm Chasers, Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball merchandise. All proceeds will go to the relief efforts following the tornado in Moore, Okla.
Items autographed by Alex Gordon, Ryne Sandberg, Wil Myers and Joe Torre are among the lots being auctioned.
Moore is near Oklahoma City, like Omaha a member of the Pacific Coast League.
“Our thoughts are with all those affected by this unthinkable tragedy, and we hope the money raised during the rest of our homestand will help the area of our Pacific Coast League teammate,” said Martie Cordaro, president and general manager of the Storm Chasers. “We believe our fans will join us in this effort to help this devastated part of our great country.”
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