Brian Fletcher knocked in the game-winning run for a second straight day and Justin Marks was sensational in relief as Omaha stormed back to turn back Memphis, 5-2, Sunday night in the third meeting of a crucial five-game set at AutoZone Park. The Storm Chasers have won the first three games of the series to climb back over the .500 mark to 65-64 and extend their lead over the Redbirds in the American Conference North Division to five games with 15 remaining in the regular season. Omaha also squared the season series at seven games apiece and improved to 34-32 away from home.
Memphis broke through with a pair of runs in the third inning on a two-out, two-run single by Brock Peterson off of Kansas City Royals right-hander Felipe Paulino, making his third rehabilitation start with the Storm Chasers. The burly right-hander walked Greg Garcia and Ryan Jackson to open the fourth and the runners were able to advance on a Chris Swauger ground out. However, the hosts could not add to their lead as Paulino struck out Travis Tartamella to finish his night and gave way to Marks, who fanned Mike O’Neill to squash the threat. Paulino gave up the two runs on two hits, walked four and struck out six.
The visitors seized on the shift in momentum and sent 11 batters to the plate while erupting for five runs in the fifth to take the lead for good. Irving Falu walked, Christian Colon was hit by a pitch and Anthony Seratelli dropped down a bunt base hit to load the bases with nobody out. Ben Broussard doubled to drive in two and push Seratelli to third and both runners then scored when Fletcher doubled to make it 4-2 and knock Memphis starter Carlos Martinez out of the game after he had allowed four hits, walked three, hit three batters and struck out six. Jorge Rondon took over and allowed an infield hit to Pedro Ciriaco that advanced Fletcher to third base from where he scored when Brett Hayes singled to account for the final margin. Omaha would go on to load the bases with one out but would not be able to tack on any further runs.
Marks stranded a runner at third with one out in the fifth and did not allow another runner to advance past second base over 5 1/3 scoreless innings to notch his sixth win of the season. The southpaw yielded three hits, struck out seven, including four of the last six hitters he faced, and did not walk a batter. Marks has fanned 34 over his last 24 innings of work covering one start and three appearances in relief behind Paulino.
The series continues Monday night with Omaha right-hander Yordano Ventura taking the hill against Memphis southpaw Nick Greenwood. Coverage of the game gets underway at 6:45 pm and can be heard locally on 1180 Zone 2 The Deuce and online at omahastormchasers.com.