Storm Chasers Open 9-Game Road Trip With a Win

Francisco Pena collected four hits, including a home run, and drove in three runs to help carry Omaha past Oklahoma City, 7-2, Thursday night in the opener of a four-game set at Bricktown Ballpark. The Storm Chasers won for a 15th time in their last 18 road games to improve to 43-36 overall and push the RedHawks two games behind in the American Conference North Division.

Paulo Orlando led off the second inning with a drive off the top of the wall in left-center field and the carom away from Marc Krauss allowed the Omaha outfielder to turn on his tremendous speed to leg out an inside-the-park home run, his second in as many seasons. A couple of infield singles and a hit batter loaded the bases later in the frame for Whit Merrifield, who drove in Brian Bocock with a sacrifice fly to make it a 2-0 game. It marked just the second time that the Storm Chasers had scored multiple runs in 22 innings against OKC’s hard-throwing right-hander Mike Foltynewicz. The hosts got a run back in the home half when Marc Krauss, who had doubled, scored on a wild pitch, the first run allowed by Omaha starter Clay Mortensen over 11-plus innings against the RedHawks.

Pena’s two-run home run in the fourth extended the Chasers lead to 4-1 and matched their combined scoring output in their first three encounters against Foltynewicz. The former first-round draft choice last five frames, his shortest outing against Omaha this season, and was tagged with the loss after he surrendered those four runs on seven hits while walking one and fanning six. Alex White took over for OKC in the sixth and yielded a two-out RBI hit to Christian Colon that pushed the advantage to 5-2 and a run-scoring double to Bocock in the seventh that made it a four-run spread and drove him from the from the mound. Pena then greeted Patrick Urckfitz with a booming two-base hit that knocked in Bocock to complete the scoring and finish off his fist four-hit night of the campaign.

Mortensen recorded the first out in the sixth and was lifted after he had given up two runs on five hits while walking a pair and fanning four, good enough to earn his third win, and was followed by Tim Collins, who permitted a lone single over 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Chris Dwyer finished up with two scoreless frames and fanned four, including the side in turn in the eighth, to sew up Omaha’s fourth win in five tries in Oklahoma.

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