Chasers One Win Away from PCL Championship

Omaha wins both games on Wednesday in final at-bat, including walkoff solo homer by Brian Fletcher in Game 2

Brian Fletcher's solo homer to lead off the ninth in Game 2 sealed the Chasers fourth straight come-from-behind win and fifth straight win overall in the PCL Playoffs. (Mark Kuhlmann/Omaha Storm Chasers)

By Andrew Mitchell / Omaha Storm Chasers | September 11, 2013 8:37 PM ET


The Omaha Storm Chasers scored a run in each of their final two at-bats to earn a 3-2 win in Game 1 of the Pacific Coast League Championship Series against the Salt Lake Bees. The winner of Game 1 in the PCL Championship has gone on to win the title in the last ten seasons and 13 of the 14 years the Championship Series has been played since 1998.

The Storm Chasers trailed 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh, then Rey Navarro smacked a two-out single and was knocked in by a double down the line by Manny Pina to tie the game. In the next inning, Irving Falu led off the eighth with a single then was moved into scoring position by a sac bunt by Christian Colon, who led the PCL in that category this season. Ben Broussard provided the game-winning blow two batters later with a single to centerfield, and the veteran is tied with Gorkys Hernandez for the most RBI in the playoffs for Omaha at four.

Salt Lake took their 2-1 lead in the fourth inning on a solo shot by Luis Rodriguez off right-hander Clay Mortensen, who replaced Chris Dwyer when the game resumed in the second inning, but that homer was the only hit the Chasers allowed in the final six innings of the game. Mortensen totaled eight strikeouts in his five innings of work, after the righty had not totaled more than five strikeouts in any game this season with Boston, Triple-A Pawtucket or Omaha.

The Bees only managed two walks in those final six innings of the game, and relievers Buddy Baumann and Michael Mariot tossed two perfect innings to finish off the Game 1 win. Mariot has now gone 25.0 innings without allowing an earned run over his last 16 appearances dating back to July 27.


Brian Fletcher's leadoff solo homer in the bottom of the ninth sealed a 2-1 win by Omaha over Bees and also gave the Chasers a 2-0 series lead in the 2013 Pacific Coast League Championship with the final three games remaining in Salt Lake. Omaha will look to finish off their second PCL Championship sweep in franchise history Friday at Spring Mobile Ballpark.

After winning in their last at-bat in the resumed suspended Game 1 earlier in the day, Fletcher's game-winner capped the Storm Chasers fourth straight come-from-behind win and fifth straight win overall in the PCL Playoffs. Since the Pacific Coast League expanded to 16 teams beginning in the 1998 season, eight teams have won the first two games of the PCL Championship and all eight teams went on to sweep the series. Five of those eight teams won Game 3 on the road.

Storm Chasers starter Yordano Ventura made his first appearance for Omaha since August 29 and first postseason appearance above Single-A, and the 22-year-old tossed six innings of one-run ball while striking out six. Ventura made 15 starts for Omaha this season, and allowed one run or less in eight of those outings. Reliever Zach Jackson pitched three shutout innings giving up just one hit to put the Chasers in position to win in the ninth, and the Omaha bullpen has let across only one earned run and two runs total in 21.2 combined innings this postseason.

The Storm Chasers tied the score at 1-1 in the seventh on a RBI single by Rey Navarro, whose four RBI in the 2013 PCL Playoffs is tied for the team lead with Ben Broussard and Gorkys Hernandez. Navarro is batting .429 in five games this postseason, and his six hits are also tied for the team lead with Broussard and Irving Falu.

In Game 3 Omaha will look to win their second PCL Championship in the last three seasons as they send out Justin Marks, who will face off with Salt Lake right-hander Jarrett Grube. First pitch from Spring Mobile Ballpark on Friday is set for 7:35 p.m. CDT, with coverage on 1180 Zone 2 The Deuce and getting underway at 7:15 p.m. CDT

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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