OKLAHOMA CITY — The Omaha Storm Chasers, the team that finished the season below .500, are on the verge of sweeping the team that had the Pacific Coast League’s best record.
Omaha had three doubles during a decisive five-run sixth inning and also took advantage of three Oklahoma City errors to post a 7-4 victory Thursday night in Game 2 of the best-of-5 American Conference playoffs at Bricktown Ballpark.
The rest of the series now shifts to Werner Park, and Omaha can clinch a third straight trip to the PCL championship series with one more win. The Chasers’ first chance is Friday’s 7:05 p.m. Game 3.
Oklahoma City (82-62) needs to win all three games in Omaha to advance.
“We’re in good shape, but we’ve still got to win another game,” Omaha manager Mike Jirschele said. “We just came in here and beat them two games, but we don’t want them to return the favor.”
Trailing 4-2 in the sixth, Omaha’s Rey Navarro drew a one-out walk and moved to third on Paulo Orlando’s double, then scored on an error by shortstop Raoul Torrez.
Gorkys Hernandez tied the game with an RBI double, and the Chasers took a 6-4 lead on Irving Falu’s two-run double. Finally, with two outs, Ben Broussard’s RBI single made it 7-4.
Omaha got some help from two starters — Navarro and Lane Adams — who didn’t play in Class AAA this season and received promotions from Class AA Northwest Arkansas for the playoffs.
Navarro drove in Adams for the Chasers’ first two runs.
Adams, who had 38 stolen bases and scored 86 runs while playing at two lower levels during the regular season, drew a leadoff walk in the second inning. He stole second and moved to third as Torrez mishandled the throw for the first of his two errors, and then scored on Navarro’s sacrifice fly.
In the fourth, Adams led off with an infield single, moved to second as first baseman Jonathan Singleton mishandled a David Martinez pickoff attempt for an error, and then scored on Navarro’s single.
“Adams did a great job running the bases,” Jirschele said. “He’s a guy their pitchers worry about. He makes things happen.
“And Navarro, he played here (with Omaha) last year (late season and in the playoffs). The kid can play and play different positions, but there just wasn’t room for him with us during the season because of all the utility guys we had.”
Omaha’s 2-0 lead went away quickly, as the RedHawks’ first four batters in the bottom of the fourth reached base and scored, capped by a long three-run homer by Singleton that gave Oklahoma City a 4-2 lead.
But Omaha broke loose in the sixth.
“We jumped back into it with good situational hitting and a couple of doubles down the third-base line,” Jirschele said.
Clayton Mortensen, acquired during the final week of the season in a trade for outfielder Quintin Berry, pitched five innings for the win, allowing four
runs on five hits while walking two and striking out four.
Five of the seven baserunners against Mortensen were the first five batters in the fourth. Oklahoma City didn’t have a hit until the fourth.
“He threw really well except for the fourth inning,” Jirschele said.
Martinez, the Oklahoma City starter, went 14-2 with a 2.02 ERA for Class AA Corpus Christi and eventually reached the big leagues with the Astros before going back to the RedHawks. He was charged with two unearned runs on four hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Reliever Eric Berger, who had been the RedHawks’ most reliable pitcher down the stretch, took the loss after giving up five runs — three earned — on four hits while walking two and striking out one in one inning.
The three RedHawks errors allowed Omaha to score four unearned runs.
Relievers Buddy Baumann and Zach Jackson each pitched two scoreless innings to close it out.
Baumann escaped a seventh-inning jam as the RedHawks had runners at second and third and brought the tying run to the plate. Baumann struck out the next two batters before getting Jose Martinez to fly out to end the inning.
Jackson picked up the save, striking out three.
“Both did an outstanding job,” Jirschele said.
On Friday, Omaha sends to the mound lefty Justin Marks, who had a strong August but previously struggled in three
starts against the RedHawks, losing twice while allowing 16 runs on 29 hits in 18 innings for an 8.00 ERA.
Oklahoma City starter Jake Buchanan pitched once against Omaha, taking a no-decision despite allowing one run on eight hits in seven innings on July 25.