Will Smith spun six sterling innings and Johnny Giavotella collected three hits and three runs batted in as Omaha clobbered Nashville, 12-3, Monday night in the third of four meetings at Greer Stadium. The Storm Chasers have taken the last two games after dropping the series opener to improve to 11-7 and move back into first place in the American Conference Northern Division after Memphis fell at home to Iowa.
Smith had an adventurous 48 hours after his promotion to the big leagues on Saturday. He initially flew with the Storm to Nashville then went on to Boston to join Kansas City for yesterday’s doubleheader at Fenway Park. After arriving at the Royals team hotel early Sunday morning and not pitching in either game, he took the mound just a few hours after landing back in Nashville and earned his second win of the season. The left-hander kept the hosts blanked on four hits through five frames before Jeff Bianchi hit a solo home run in the sixth to make it a 12-1 contest. He set down the next two hitters to finish his time on the hill with eight strikeouts and no walks. The Georgina native has fanned at least eight in three of his four turns and has punched out 31 in only 22 innings so far this season.
The theme of the night for the Chasers was taking advantage of wildness by Nashville hurlers, and they did so against Omaha native Zach Kroenke to push across the game’s first run in the second inning. Adam Moore walked, moved to second base on another walk to Brandon Wood, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out infield hit by David Lough.
Lough opened the fifth with a double, his 11th hit in a 17 at-bat stretch, and scored one out later on a double by Giavotella that made it 2-0 and knocked Kroenke out of the game. The left-hander was charged with three runs on four hits and four free passes over 4 1/3 innings after a two-out bunt base hit by Anthony Seratelli off of Michael Olmstead scored Giavotella, who has raised his average to .317 since starting the season 1-for-16. The Westside High School product took the loss and has yielded eight runs on nine hits and nine walks over 8 1/3 innings in two turns against his hometown team across the last nine days.
Olmstead then fought his control in the sixth and could not get out of the frame. He walked Paulo Orlando, Lough and Christian Colon in succession in front of Giavotella, who delivered a two-run double to extend the visitors advantage to 5-0 and knock a pitcher out of the game for a second time. Xavier Nady then greeted Kyle Heckathorn with a two-run single to make it a 7-0 game and push his RBI total over the last two games. Heckathorn proceeded to walk the next three hitters to force in a run and uncorked a wild pitch that allowed another run to score before Wood capped the uprising with a mammoth three-run homer, his first of the season. All nine hitters in the lineup scored in the Chasers’ most bountiful inning of the year.
The series concludes Tuesday morning with Omaha left-hander Ryan Verdugo taking the mound against Nashville right-hander Frankie De La Cruz. Coverage of the game gets underway at 10:45 am and can be heard locally on 1180 Zone 2, The Deuce and online at omahastormchasers.com.