Omaha second baseman Whit Merrifield recorded three hits while driving in both Chasers runs and starting pitcher and former first round pick Kyle Zimmer struck out four in his Triple-A regular season debut, however Round Rock avoided a series sweep with a 4-2 victory on Friday evening at Werner Park.
It was the first time Zimmer (4.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, 4 K) has pitched for the Storm Chasers since earning the win in the 2014 Triple-A National Championship Game. He made four postseason outings with Omaha that year but had not appeared in a regular season Triple-A contest prior to this evening. The 25-year-old did not factor in the decision after allowing two earned runs on four hits in 4.2 innings, adding four strikeouts.
Storm Chasers reliever Mark Peterson (2.1 IP, H, K) followed Zimmer by firing 2.1 scoreless innings of one-hit ball, while Kevin McCarthy (1.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, K) suffered the defeat. Round Rock righty Austin Bibens-Dirkx (5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, ER, 2 BB, 3 K) did not receive a decision as well, falling one out shy of a quality start. Lefty Wesley Wright (1.0 IP, BB) earned his second win of the year, while Preston Claiborne (1.0 IP, 2 K) notched his first save.
The two teams traded RBI groundouts in the first, with Merrifield bringing across his first RBI in the last of the frame. Two innings later he slapped a double down the left field line to send in SS Ramon Torres to give the Storm Chasers a 2-1 lead. The Express would score the final three runs of the contest, however, courtesy of RF Travis Snider's game-tying RBI single in the fourth, followed by back-to-back run-scoring singles from DH Will Middlebrooks and CF Jared Hoying.
Merrifield's (3-4, 2B, 2 RBI) three hits were a game-high, with RF Bubba Starling (2-4) also tallying two knocks. Hoying (2-3, R, RBI, BB), along with C A.J. Jimenez (2-4) and 2B Luis Marte (2-4, R), each accumulated multi-hit efforts for the Express, while Middlebrooks drove in two runs.
After taking three of four from Round Rock, Omaha continues their homestand by beginning a three-game series against the New Orleans Baby Cakes on Saturday afternoon at Werner Park. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. with RHP Luke Farrell (1-0, 5.06) expected to toe the rubber for the Storm Chasers. New Orleans is anticipated to send RHP Odrisamer Despaigne (NR) to the hill.
Tickets are still available for that game and all remaining Storm Chasers contests, and may be purchased at www.omahastormchasers.com/tickets, as well as by calling the Werner Park Ticket Office at (402) 738-5100. To view Ticket Office hours, please click here.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.