OMAHA, Neb. - Twenty-four hours later, it was all worth the wait. The Storm Chasers and a sell-out crowd of 6,533 fans were treated to clear skies and a terrific night of pitching, as Omaha defeated Nashville 2-1 Saturday in the inaugural game at Werner Park.
Mike Moustakas drove in Eric Hosmer for the ballpark's first run, Danny Duffy and five relievers shut down the Sounds' bats with three double plays and 12 strikeouts and Louis Coleman struck out the side in the ninth to slam the door and bring home the victory. It was a fitting way to open up the new home of the Storm Chasers, after Friday's Opening Night was postponed one day due to inclement weather.
With Kansas City Royals' Senior Vice President-Baseball Operations/General Manager Dayton Moore and other club officials watching the action from the press box, it was Duffy who stole the show early. The 22-year-old lefthander struck out Eric Farris in the first at-bat in Werner Park history, one of seven strikeouts Duffy would record in the ballgame. He finished just one out shy of qualifying for the victory, allowing just one hit and one walk in his 4.2 innings of work. He threw 76 pitches in the contest, meeting his pitch limit before walking off to an ovation from the Storm Chasers faithful.
Omaha got both of its runs during a wild bottom-of-the-third inning. After Lorenzo Cain grounded out to start the frame, David Lough ripped a ringing double to right, his second hit of the night after legging out the first base-hit in Werner Park history in the first inning. Hosmer then sat on a first-pitch offering from losing pitcher Manny Parra (0-1), drilling it into centerfield for a base-hit that brought Lough racing around third. However, Brett Carroll's throw was on the money and Lough was tagged out as Hosmer advanced to second base on the play.
After working a 3-1 count, Moustakas sliced a liner the other way into left, dropping it past a diving Brandon Boggs for an RBI double that brought Hosmer home for the historic first run. Johnny Giavotella continued the extra-base hit party with a triple into the rightfield corner, bringing Moustakas across the plate for the game's second tally.
From there, it was hang-on time for the Storm Chasers. Everett Teaford, Luis Mendoza and Blaine Hardy followed Duffy's stellar effort, grinding their way through the next 2.1 innings. Collectively they allowed a run on five hits, issuing four walks and striking out one. After Hardy loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth, the Chasers faced a similar scenario as they did in their loss to Round Rock on Thursday, when a bases-clearing triple erased a one-run cushion in the eighth inning of that game. This time manager Mike Jirschele summoned reliever Jesse Chavez (1-0) from the bullpen, and his righthander responded by getting out of the jam in just five pitches. He started things off with a three-pitch strikeout of Boggs, then induced Jeremy Reed to bounce into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. His effort was rewarded with a win in the boxscore by official scorer's decision.
Coleman was his usual lights-out self in the ninth, earning his second save of the year. His three-up, three-down, three-strikeout inning was his third such frame of the young season, putting the Sounds away with a hard fastball and devastating, late-breaking slider.
The pregame ceremony was not without excitement of its own. Major League Baseball Hall of Famers George Brett of the Kansas City Royals and Omaha-native Bob Gibson of St. Louis Cardinals fame participated in an extended first-pitch ceremony, with Brett firing a strike to a catching Gibson. Also among those throwing out first pitches were Storm Chasers President Alan Stein, Pacific Coast League President Branch B. Rickey, Minor League Baseball President Pat O'Conner and Werner Enterprises Chairman C.L. Werner, the man who started the worldwide specialized carrier and provided the name of Werner Park.
The Storm Chasers (3-6) and Sounds (5-4) will be back in action Sunday, as the clubs play a doubleheader beginning at 2:05 p.m., making up Friday night's ballgame. Omaha will send Vin Mazzaro and Mike Montgomery to the hill, while Nashville will counter with Amaury Rivas and Sam Narron. Gates will open at 12:45.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.