Storm Chasers spoil opener for Zephyrs _lowres

Advocate staff photo by SHERRI MILLER -- Balbino Fuenmayor (15) slid into second base, but was tapped out by Austin Nola (9) during the New Orleans Zephyrs vs. Omaha Storm Chasers baseball game on Opening Day at Zephyrs Field in Metairie on Friday, April 15, 2016.

The New Orleans Zephyrs got to Omaha left-hander Jonathan Dziedzic in beating the Storm Chasers on the road Sunday. However, Dziedzic came back strong Friday, spoiling the Zephyrs’ home opener.

He pitched a seven-inning, three-hitter, and Omaha shut out the Zephyrs 3-0 in front of a crowd of 5,582 on a baumy night at Zephyr Field.

“He pitched pretty well; he shut us down,” said Zephyrs manager Arnie Beyeler, whose team fell to 3-6. “We hit some balls hard early, a tough night to hit. They strung a few together, and we didn’t play good defense, helped them out a little bit.

“We didn’t threaten very much tonight.”

Former LSU standout Austin Nola hit a one-out single in the third, right fielder Kenny Wilson singled in the fifth, and Cole Gillespie hit a one-out double in the seventh. Dziedzic (1-1), struck out six and didn’t walk a batter. Peter Moylan pitched the eighth, and Brian Duensing the ninth for Omaha.

“He was outstanding, had command of all his pitches,” Storm Chasers manager Brian Poldberg said of Dziedzic, the Kansas City Royals’ minor leauge pitcher of the year last season at Double-A Northwest Arksansas. “He located his fastball up, down, in out, changed speeds very well, stayed ahead of the hitters.”

It was the third consecutive loss for the Zephyrs, who dropped the final two of its series at Iowa. New Orleans split a four-game series at Omaha to start the season.

The Storm Chasers, perennially one of the best teams in the Pacific Coast League, scored a run in the first, fifth and eighth innings and never were in trouble in notching their third consecutive win.

Omaha took the lead in its first at-bat. Leadoff hitter Jarrod Dyson was hit by a pitch by Zephyrs starter Kendry Flores (0-1) and advanced to second on a balk. Dyson scored on center fielder Brett Eibner’s sacrifice fly to left field.

It stayed that way until the fifth, when the Omaha scored with the help of a Z’s error, the second by Flores in the game. After Dyson walked, second baseman Whit Merrifield beat out a bunt single. Flores’ throwing error trying to get Merrifield enabled Dyson to advance to third. He scored on a Cheslor Cuthbert’s one-out grounder to first.

Omaha made it 3-0 in the eighth when Fuenmayor, who’d hit a one-out single, came home on catcher Parker Morin’s fly to right.

“It’s early yet, and the guys will get settled,” said Beyeler, whose team was coming off an eight-game road trip to Omaha and Iowa to begin the season. “It was cold out there, but a lot warmer than where we came from. We’ll be all right.”