Maier smacks third homer of playoffs

Royals farmhand helps Storm Chasers even up PCL Finals

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | September 12, 2012 11:43 PM ET

Mitch Maier has been around baseball long enough to know the game can humble you in a heartbeat.

That's why the big league veteran is welcoming the chance to bring a championship back to Triple-A Omaha, rather than stewing about not being on the Kansas City Royals' 40-man roster down the stretch.

Maier smacked his third homer of the playoffs and scored twice in the Storm Chasers' 9-6 win over the Reno Aces in Game 2 of the Pacific Coast League Championship Series on Wednesday.

"My first thought when I got sent down was that this was not what I wanted. It was a tough adjustment," Maier said. "But once I settled down ... it's been great. They had a 15-game lead when I got here, so they've been playing well all year, and it's nice to be a part of that.

"I haven't been in the postseason since I was in the Minor Leagues in 2006. To have a chance to win any championship is big."

The outfielder went 1-for-4 with a walk in the victory, which tied the Best-of-5 Finals at one game apiece. The series now heads back to Omaha for the last three games. In Game 1 of the series, Reno beat Omaha, 13-1, on Tuesday.

A first-round pick of the Royals in the 2003 Draft, 30-year-old Michigan native Maier has played in the Majors in six of the past seven seasons. Now back in the Pacific Coast League, his thoughts are focused on helping Omaha repeat.

"They did it last year, and there are a few guys and members of the coaching staff that were a part of it," Maier said. "This is what everyone has been playing for all year."

Wil Myers plated Anthony Seratelli with a one-out RBI single in the first inning, and leadoff hitter Irving Falu drove home Maier with a two-out single in the second.

Tyler Bortnick cut the deficit in half with an RBI single in the bottom of the frame, but Seratelli, Max Ramirez and Maier homered in the fifth to stake the Storm Chasers to a 7-1 lead.

"[Zach Kroenke] left a slider up with two strikes and I was able to hit it out," Maier said. "Strike one was a fastball in, then [he threw] a slider I hit foul. Then another slider away for a ball and then he missed with a fastball.

"He came back 2-2 with a slider. After seeing it twice, I was able to pick it up and get good wood on it."

Reno answered with four more runs to make it a two-run game, but catcher Adam Moore hit a two-out, two-RBI single in the seventh. The hosts grabbed a run back on Bortnick's RBI single in the eighth, but the Storm Chasers held on for the victory.

"It was good. We needed to come here and win one in Reno before we go back for three games," he said. "We got beat up pretty good last night. We were just trying to get good pitches to hit, and then hit mistakes ultimately. As a collective unit, we were able to put up some runs.

"They had the momentum being at home, so to get a good start and score some runs was big. We took the early lead and didn't let it go. We'll go to Omaha with confidence."

Storm Chasers starter Ryan Verdugo (1-1) allowed five runs on eight hits over six innings. He struck out six batters, issued one walk and threw 67 of 95 pitches for strikes over six innings.

Reno first baseman Mike Jacobs smacked a three-run homer, and Daniel Cabrera (0-2) surrendered five runs -- four earned -- on six hits and three walks while striking out two batters over 4 1/3 innings.

Game 3 of the Championship Series is in Omaha on Friday at 8:05 p.m. ET. The winner will meet the International League's best in a one-game showdown for the Triple-A Championship on Sept. 18.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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