A matchup between two of the top pitchers in the Pacific Coast League held true Thursday as Omaha's Chris Dwyer and New Orleans' Brian Flynn combined to allow six hits over 13 1/3 innings in front of 5,801 at Werner Park.
But it was the long ball that won it for the Storm Chasers as Brett Hayes clobbered two homers for the second straight game, including a walk-off home run in the 10th inning to give Omaha a 3-2 win over the Zephyrs.
With four home runs in two games against his former club, Hayes said he wasn't going to try to analyze his recent offensive output.
“I just try and be consistent. I try and not look too far into it, you know, I just had a couple good games,” Hayes said. “Our team's put us in a spot to where I can do something like that. You know, it's fun to be able to do that.”
It was the fifth multi-homer game for Hayes this season, the most by an Omaha batter since 2004.
It looked like neither team was going to generate any offense as Flynn and Dwyer combined to retire the first 21 batters of the game.
Dwyer, who set down the first 17 batters he faced, finally allowed a runner with two outs in the sixth when Kevin Mattison bunted his way on to break up the perfect game.
Christian Colon charged the ball hard from his second base position and bare-handed the ball, but his throw was late and got past first baseman Ben Broussard. Mattison ended up at second.
Dwyer ended the threat by getting Chris Valaika to fly out to left on Dwyer's 53rd pitch through six innings.
Dwyer said the way New Orleans broke up the perfect game with a bunt didn't surprise him.
“It happens. (Mattison's) a speedy guy. He's bunted on me before. I knew he was going to do it, and he just put it in the perfect place,” Dwyer said.
Flynn also surrendered his first hit on a bunt when Anthony Seratelli got aboard in the fourth after Flynn retired the first nine Omaha batters.
The Storm Chasers were finally able to get to Flynn, who had allowed two hits through five innings, in the bottom of the sixth.
Hayes led off the inning by reaching base when Valaika couldn't handle a ground ball and was charged with an error. Seratelli sacrificed Hayes to second, and Colon drove him in with a two-out single.
Flynn left the game after six innings, having allowed three hits while striking out three and not allowing a walk on just 65 pitches.
New Orleans took the lead in the eighth after Audy Ciriaco led off with a walk and Mattison reached base on an error by Broussard, moving Ciriaco to second.
Valaika followed by stroking an 0-1 pitch into center field to drive in Ciriaco to knot the game at 1-1.
A one-out sacrifice fly by Nick Green off of Michael Mariot, who relieved Dwyer after 7 1/3 innings, drove in Mattison to give the Zephyrs a 2-1 lead. Dwyer was charged with both New Orleans runs.
Omaha manager Mike Jirschele said that inning was the only time in the game that his team had trouble executing.
“You know, we had one bad inning tonight, and that's when we had the error at first and we started with a walk,” Jirschele said.
The Storm Chasers came right back in the bottom of the inning when Hayes drove the first pitch he saw from Jonathan Albaladejo over the left-field wall to tie the game at 2-2.
It was the 14th homer of the season — all but one of those home runs by the right-handed hitting Hayes have come against right-handers. His game-winning homer in the 10th also was off a right-hander.
Storm Tracking: Omaha’s pitchers entered Thursday leading the Pacific Coast League in strikeouts with 1,100 while New Orleans was seventh with 1,002. … Despite going into Thursday with a 66-66 record, one game better than the Storm Chasers’ 65-67, the Zephyrs were at the bottom of the PCL’s American Southern Division, 10 games behind Oklahoma City. Omaha, on the other hand, led the American Northern Division by two games over Memphis. No team has ever qualified for the PCL playoffs with a sub-.500 record since the league adopted its current playoff format in 1998. … When the Chasers’ Pedro Ciriaco grounded out to third base to lead off the third inning, it was New Orleans third baseman Audy Ciriaco, Pedro’s brother, who threw him out. Pedro also lined out to Audy in the eighth. … Omaha reliever Michael Mariot extended his scoreless inning streak to 132⁄3 innings with 22⁄3 scoreless innings Thursday. The last time he gave up an earned run was July 24, a span of 10 appearances.