RENO, Nev. — Omaha bounced back from a Game 1 drubbing, took a control with three fifth-inning homers and held on Wednesday night for a 9-6 victory against Reno that evened the PCL Championship Series.
“That was obviously a must-win for us,” Omaha manager Mike Jirschele said. “We didn’t want to go down 0-2 to start off the series.”
Anthony Seratelli and Max Ramirez each hit two-run homers and Mitch Maier added a solo shot as the Storm Chasers extended their 2-1 lead to 7-1 with a five-run fifth.
“That was big,” Jirschele said. “It really was the key to winning, even though they got right back in it.”
The rest of the best-of-five series will be played at Werner Park, with Game 3 set for Friday night at 7:05.
Like Tuesday’s series opener, Omaha scored first, this time on Wil Myers’ first-inning RBI single. Unlike the 13-1 loss in Game 1, Omaha never relinquished this lead.
But Reno kept it close, answering Omaha’s five-run inning with four of its own in the bottom of the fifth, capped by Mike Jacobs’ second homer of the series and third of the postseason — a three-run shot that made it 7-5.
Ryan Verdugo, the PCL All-Star left-handed starting pitcher, got the win after allowing five runs on eight hits in six innings. Verdugo struck out six, including the final two he faced.
“Really, I thought the fifth inning was the only one that Verdugo ran into any problems in,” Jirschele said. “Otherwise, he threw the ball well.”
Three relievers took it from there, with Roman Colon pitching the ninth for his second save of the postseason.
Leading 1-0, Irving Falu’s RBI single drove in Maier for a 2-0 lead in the top of the second, before Reno made it 2-1 on an RBI single by Tyler Bortnick in the bottom of the second.
Maier also threw out A.J. Pollock at the plate on a fly ball by Josh Bell to end the third inning, preserving the 2-1 lead.
Omaha chased Reno starter Daniel Cabrera in the fifth, as Derrick Robinson led off with an infield single and eventually scored on Seratelli’s homer, his second of the postseason.
After a Myers single, the Aces brought in reliever Zach Kroenke, the former Nebraska star from Omaha Northwest. Clint Robinson grounded into a force out, but Ramirez followed with his second postseason homer for a 6-1 lead and Maier followed with his third postseason homer to make it 7-1.
Cabrera, 31, was a fixture in the Baltimore rotation from 2004 through 2008, though he hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2009. He’s 48-65 with a 5.10 ERA at the big league level. The right-hander allowed five runs, four earned, while giving up six hits and walking three in 413 innings.
After having its lead cut to two runs, Omaha doubled it to four on Adam Moore’s two-run, seventh-inning single that made it 9-5.
Reno got a run back in the eighth against reliever Juan Gutierrez, who walked Brett Clevlen to lead off the inning. Clevlen moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Bortnick’s one-out single.
One night after allowing a season-high five homers, Omaha had a rare three-homer inning — its first since August 30, 2010. The connections by Ramirez and Maier were the first time the Chasers had hit back-to-back homers since Clint Robinson and Ramirez did against Albuquerque on April 15.
“We came out and scored nine after last night, which was probably one of our worst games of the year for us offensively,” Jirschele said. “You’re going to have games like that one, but hopefully you won’t have too many in the playoffs. I’m real happy with how they bounced back tonight and swung the bats.”