Jamie Romak drove in four runs against his former team to power Memphis to a much-needed 7-4 victory over Omaha Monday night in the fourth of a five-game set at AutoZone Park. The Storm Chasers lost for the first time in the series to dip to 65-65 and saw their lead over the Redbirds in the American Conference North Division reduced to four with 14 games remaining in the season.
Gorkys Hernandez got the visitors off to a good start, as he hammered Nick Greenwood’s second pitch of the night for a home run, his first as a member of the Storm Chasers. Ben Broussard then doubled with two outs and scored on a base hit by Brian Fletcher, who advanced to second base on a wild pitch and came home on a Max Ramirez single to finish off a three-run first rally. Romak, who played for the Chasers last season, busted out of a 6-for-50 drought with a two-run double in the bottom of the frame to bring the Redbirds to within one. The hit snapped Omaha starter Yordano Ventura’s 14-inning scoreless streak and his five-start stretch during which he had not allowed more than one run. Memphis tied the game in the second on a double by Audry Perez, his first extra-base hit at the Triple-A level, that chased home Justin Christian, who had opened the frame with a walk.
The Chasers loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth on a walk and two singles but could only manage one run on a Paulo Orlando sacrifice fly to regain the lead at 4-3 before Hernandez bounced into an inning-ending double play. Greenwood was charged with those four runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out a pair over four frames and was replaced by former Omaha reliever Victor Marte, who threw a scoreless fifth despite walking a pair.
Ventura somewhat labored through five innings during which he yielded three runs on seven hits while walking three and fanning seven. The hard-throwing right-hander finished his performance by striking out Ryan Jackson to establish a single-season franchise record with 1,083 punch outs. Everett Teaford took over in the sixth, after an eight-day layoff, and eventually took the loss. The southpaw ran into trouble immediately as two singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out for Brock Peterson, who doubled to drive in two to give the hosts their first lead of the night at 5-4 and send Jermaine Curtis to third base. Romak followed with a single that drove in both runners to extend the Redbirds advantage to three and close the scoring.
Eric Fornataro, who lasted two innings in a spot start on Saturday, earned his first Triple-A win with two scoreless innings and was followed by Michael Blazek and Fernando Salas, who each tossed a shutout frame to sew up the victory, as Memphis halted a six-game slide and grabbed an 8-7 lead in the season series.
The series wraps up Tuesday night with Omaha left-hander John Lamb making his second Triple-A start against Memphis southpaw Nick Additon. 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.