After a lengthy rain delay (one hour and 46 minutes to be exact), the Omaha Storm Chasers are your Triple-A National Champions for the second year in a row. The Storm Chasers, the Pacific Coast League champs, beat International League Champion Pawtucket, 4-2.
Playing the Triple-A National Championship at BB&T Park in Charlotte (the Triple-A ballpark that allowed the most home runs), there were four homers hit.
Kansas City Royals prospect Christian Binford made his first Triple-A start and it got off to a rocky start. The first pitch he threw was deposited into the left-center field seats for a home run by one of the newest Pawtucket players, Cuban Rusney Castillo. He allowed another hit in the inning, but escaped.
In the second, Binford allowed a leadoff single, but picked off the base runner. After a walk, he then induced an inning ending double play. He allowed two more hits in the third and a leadoff single in the fourth ended his night.
Lefty Buddy Baumann came on in relief and got out of that inning, though not without a scare. Deven Marrero hit a fly ball to the wall on a swing that looked like it was gone (Baumann’s reaction was priceless).
If Marrero’s fly ball had left the ballpark, it would have given the PawSox the lead. Cheslor Cuthbert had tied the game in the 2nd inning on a solo homer and drove in the go ahead run in the top of the fourth on a sac fly.
Then the rain came in the fifth, sending the game into a delay heading into the bottom of the fifth.
Top prospect Kyle Zimmer was the new Storm Chasers pitcher and he struck out two of the three batters he faced in the fifth. He went back out for the fifth, but the left-handed hitting Travis Shaw hit a no doubt home run to tie the game at 2-2.
Catcher Brett Hayes during spring training 2014 on St. Patty’s Day (Jen Nevius).
The game only stayed tied for a bit, as the Storm Chasers immediately got to PawSox reliever Miguel Celestino (or as the NBCSN announcers called him, Eduardo Rodriguez). Whit Merrifield singled but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Pedro Ciriaco followed with a single (his third hit of the game). Brett Hayes jumped on the first pitch from Celestino (a fastball) and crushed it over the left field wall to break the tie and give Omaha the 4-2 lead.
Andrew Triggs followed in relief and pitched two scoreless innings of relief. He struck out four. In the bottom of the ninth, in came lefty Tim Collins. At times he looked a little overamped, but he retired the side in order, as Marrero flied out to right field to end it and set off the celebration (which looked a lot like last year’s).
Hayes was named the game’s MVP, as he also doubled and scored two runs. Zimmer was credited with the win. In two innings, he struck out four and only allowed that one hit.