OMAHA, Neb. - The Omaha Storm Chasers fell, 5-3, to the Albuquerque Isotopes on Thursday night. With the loss, the best-of-five American Conference Championship Series is now tied at a game apiece. Max Ramirez paced the offense with his two-run home run in the second while starter Ryan Verdugo was handed the loss after allowing four runs in 6.1 innings of work.
Omaha (1-1) leapt out to a 2-0 lead in the second as Clint Robinson walked to set up Ramirez for his two-run blast. The home team tacked on another run in the fourth when a Robinson double was followed up two batters later by a Rey Navarro RBI two-bagger.
Albuquerque (1-1) trimmed the lead to 3-2 in the top of the sixth thanks to a two-run triple by the 'Topes' Trent Oeltjen. Josh Bard singled to start the seventh and advanced to second when Albuquerque's Elian Herrera walked. After the free pass, Verdugo was replaced by reliever Juan Gutierrez, who immediately gave up a base hit to load the bags. The Chasers would lose their lead when the next batter singled to second baseman Navarro and two runners were able to scurry home.
Brandon Sisk was summoned from the bullpen to work the eighth and allowed one unearned run to score. Bard doubled off of Sisk and scored when Tony Gwynn singled to Navarro, who threw wildly to first. Bard took advantage of the miscue and scored on the error to put Omaha in a 5-3 hole.
Robinson struck out on a foul tip to start the bottom of the ninth but Ramirez followed him with a walk. Terry Evans came on to pinch-run for Ramirez but was forced out at second when Navarro grounded into a 5-4 fielder's choice. The next batter, Jason Bourgeois, grounded into a fielder's choice to end the contest.
Omaha and Albuquerque will now travel to Isotopes Park to play out the rest of the series. Should the Storm Chasers advance to the Pacific Coast League Championship Series, game three and if necessary, games four and five will be played at Werner Park from September 14-16. The games on the 14th and 15th will be at 7:05 while the contest on the 16th is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. Friday's game can be heard locally on 1180 The Zone 2 - The Deuce and online at omahastormchasers.com.