The Albuquerque Isotopes (80-64, 2-2) plated a season-high nine runs in the seventh inning, marking their largest deficit overcome in 2012, to claim a 12-10 epic victory over the Omaha Storm Chasers (83-61, 2-2) Saturday night at Isotopes Park. The triumph was the 'Topes' first home postseason win in franchise history, and ties the best-of-five American Conference Championship Series at two games apiece, with the final, deciding contest taking place tomorrow afternoon within the friendly confines of The Lab.
Trailing 10-3 in the bottom of the seventh, with the season all but over, the Isotopes began their biggest comeback of the year when Elian Herrera laced a leadoff triple to right, Dee Gordon reached on a misplayed ball by third baseman Anthony Seratelli and Josh Fields knocked a single to left, bringing home the first run of the inning to cut the lead 10-4. Jerry Sands followed with a double that bounced into right field, sending Gordon and Fields scampering home to narrow the deficit 10-6. The Isotopes weren't nearly finished, however, as Scott Van Slyke followed with a two-bagger of his own, plating Sands to draw within 10-7.
Following the first Storm Chaser pitching change of the inning, Trent Oeltjen wasted no time welcoming the reliever to the action, lining a base hit to left that put runners on the corners with no outs. Angle then gave the 'Topes another run on a line drive that was scorched right at Jason Bourgeois, and as the right fielder attempted to cut down Van Slyke at the plate, the Isotopes runner was able to dance around the tag and touch home, making the score 10-8. Josh Bard then kept the bats alive with a single to left, and with two runners on, Tony Gwynn Jr. blasted a three-run homer that sailed into the berm, completing comeback and giving Albuquerque an 11-10 lead. As the series has shown, a one-run edge would likely not be enough through the final two frames, so Herrera answered the call by giving the 'Topes a valuable insurance run when he smoked a triple off the right-field wall and came home two batters later on a sac-fly from Fields to pad the advantage 12-10. With his pair of triples in the seventh, Herrera became the first player in franchise history to collect two three-baggers in one inning.
Albuquerque reliever Lorenzo Bareclo (1-0) was then tasked with protecting the lead through the eighth and ninth, beginning with the top of the potent Storm Chaser's batting order. After quickly surrendering a leadoff single to Irving Falu, the reliever regained his composure to strike out the next two batters and coax a flyout from Isotopes Killer Max Ramirez, keeping Omaha off the board in the eighth.
Barcelo then took the mound again in the ninth and retired the side in order to preserve the 12-10 win, snapping the 'Topes five-game playoff losing streak, while also keeping the Isotopes postseason hopes alive. En route to his victory, the right-hander worked 3.0 innings in which he allowed just one run on three hits while walking none and striking out four.
Albuquerque will attempt to claim its first postseason series victory tomorrow with Will Savage (10-7, 5.59) making the start against Omaha southpaw Justin Marks (0-1, 48.60) in a 1:35 PM start from Isotopes Park.
If the 'Topes capture a series-clinching victory tomorrow, the Isotopes will play the winner of Sacramento and Reno in the PCL Championship beginning September 11. While games one and two on the road, Albuquerque will be home for games three, four and five beginning next Friday. Tickets for any Isotopes game may be purchased at the Isotopes Park Box Office, at Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 1-800-745-3000, or online at www.abqisotopes.com or www.ticketmaster.com.