Minor league baseball: Salt Lake loses two close games in playoffs at Omaha
Omaha • The Salt Lake Bees' amazingly competitive run through the Pacific Coast League playoffs ended with two agonizing losses Wednesday at Werner Field.
Omaha's Brian Fletcher blasted a leadoff home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Storm Chasers a 2-1 victory in Game 2 of their PCL championship series against Salt Lake.
In Game 1, which was suspended Tuesday night by rain, Ben Broussard's RBI single in the eighth inning lifted Omaha to a 3-2 victory.
Counting their first-round series over Las Vegas, the Bees have played six straight one-run games. But they now need three straight victories in the best-of-five series with the the Storm Chasers.
Game 3 is Friday night at Spring Mobile Ballpark.
"... We're all right," said Salt Lake manager Keith Johnson. "We've got a lot of fight in us. All year we've been doing it at home so now we have our backs up against the wall. It's our turn to go home and try to get it done."
After managing only one hit in the first three innings of Game 2, the Bees took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth. Efren Navarro singled and went to second on a wild pitch. He moved to third on an infield out by Roberto Lopez and scored on Scott Cousins' single to center.
The Bees nursed their lead into the seventh inning, when the Storm Chasers finally broke through.
With two on and one out, reliever Fernando Cabrera replaced Salt Lake starter Tommy Hanson. Omaha's Rey Navarro greeted him with an RBI single to tie the game.
That set the stage for Fletcher in the ninth. His opposite field homer to right field on a 1-1 pitch from Salt Lake's Chad Cordero put the Storm Chasers in command of the series.
" ... Obviously we would like to be on the winning side of a one-run ball game," Johnson said. "But it is what it is Cardiac Kids, I guess."
When Game 1 was stopped in the second inning after a weather delay of almost three hours, it was tied, 1-1.
After play resumed Wednesday afternoon, the Bees' Luis Rodriguez led off the top of the fourth with a home run.
Salt Lake maintained its 2-1 lead until the bottom of the seventh, when Omaha's Manny Pina doubled home a run. Orlando followed with a base hit, but Cousins threw out Pina at the plate from center field to retire the side.
The Storm Chasers followed with the go-ahead run in the eight off Salt Lake reliever Dustin Richardson. Broussard's RBI single put them in front and the Bees went down in order in the ninth.
"Our guys battled, but we just came up a little short," Johnson said. "[Omaha] found some holes there late ... [and] we just weren't able to overcome it."
O Omaha takes a 2-0 lead in the PCL championship series with a pair of wins over Salt Lake.
• Brian Fletcher's ninth-inning homer gives the Storm Chasers a 2-1 victory in Game 2.