Matt Fields had four hits and was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle as Omaha closed the first half of the season with a decisive 7-1 victory over Colorado Springs Sunday afternoon in the last of an abbreviated three-game set. The Storm Chasers won for the sixth time in their last seven games to improve to 51-45 and reclaim a half-game lead over Iowa in the American Conference North Division at the All-Star break.
Whit Merrifield opened the game with a single, advanced to second base on a ground out and scored on a base hit by Johnny Giavotella, who then stole second and scored to make it 2-0 when Fields followed with a double against their former teammate, Brett Tomko. The Sky Sox produced their only marker in the third on an RBI double by Drew Garcia but Omaha responded in the next half inning with four runs on a Christian Colon sacrifice fly, another run-scoring hit by Giavotella that plated Merrifield and a two-run home run by Fields, his team-high 18th of the season. Carlos Peguero led off the fifth with a triple and scored on fly ball by Juan Graterol, who drove in his first run at the Triple-A level to make it a 7-1 contest. Paul Janish followed with a ground-rule double, his third hit of the game, and that drove the veteran right-hander from the hill after he had permitted all seven runs on 11 hits, walked one and struck out five over 4 2/3 innings.
Joe Saunders went three innings in his Storm Chasers debut, yielding the hosts lone run on three hits and a walk and was replaced by fellow left-hander Tim Collins, who retired all nine hitters he faced, including four strikeouts, to earn the win. Aaron Brooks, who was originally slated to start the game, took over in the seventh and gave up a trio of hits over three scoreless frames to pick up the save.
Omaha returns to action Thursday night at Werner Park against the New Orleans Zephyrs with a national television broadcast on CBS Sports Network as well as the retirement of former manager Mike Jirschele’s number 23. Coverage of the game gets underway at 7:45 pm and can be heard locally on 1180 Zone 2 The Deuce and online at omahastormchasers.com.