Whit Merrifield scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Paulo Orlando in the eighth inning against reliever James Nygren, lifting the Omaha Storm Chasers to a 3-1 win over the New Orleans Zephyrs on Friday night at Zephyr Field.
The Storm Chasers (32-30) took a two games to none series lead against New Orleans (28-32), which lost its third in a row and fifth in seven games. Continuing their struggles at the plate, the Zephyrs got just four hits.
Omaha scored an insurance run in the ninth after loading the bases with two walks around a single against reliever Fabian Williamson. Casey Kotchman came in on Matt Fields’ liner to center field on which Isaac Galloway made a diving catch.
The Storm Chasers took a 1-0 lead on Kotchman’s two-out home run in the seventh against starter Robert Morey. The Z’s tied the score in the bottom of the inning when Austin Wates scored on Cole Gillespie’s sacrifice fly to deep right field.
BACK IN MIAMI
The Marlins recalled infielder Derek Dietrich from New Orleans. Dietrich was replaced in the lineup of Thursday’s game by Brandon Bantz before the start of the fourth inning.
In a corresponding move, the Marlins sent pitcher Adam Conley back to the Zephyrs.
“Some of their pitchers are coming back, and they had 13 pitchers and 12 position players, and you usually have the opposite,” Zephyrs manager Andy Haines said. “With (pitcher Mat) Latos going back, they will have to make another move.”
Dietrich was the Marlins’ starting second baseman last season, but Miami obtained Dee Gordon in the offseason. With New Orleans this season, Dietrich hit .260 and led the Z’s in doubles (13) and home runs (seven) and led the Pacific Coast League in times hit by pitch (15).
More important, he played second base, third and first.
Conley was called up on Monday and pitched a scoreless inning on Wednesday at Toronto.
Storm Chasers reliever Louis Coleman said he has been following LSU’s baseball team with interest and will be watching the Tigers in the College World Series.
“I check the box scores and talk to Coach (Paul) Mainieri quite a bit, so I keep in touch,” said Coleman, who was on LSU’s last championship team in 2009. “They have some exceptional talent, pitching and all around.”
Coleman, 29, witnessed the parent Kansas City Royals up close against the San Francisco Giants in last year’s Major League Baseball World Series.
“I wasn’t on the roster, but I was in the dugout,” he said. “I guess they had me up there in case somebody got hurt.”
Called up in September, he missed the Storm Chasers’ run to the Triple-A World Series title.
Coleman was drafted in the fifth round in 2009 and has appeared in 148 Royals games since 2011. He is earning $725,000 this season in the final year of his contract and will be eligible for arbitration.
There was a 20-minute rain delay to Friday’s game on Star Wars Night. … The Zephyrs will learn after Jarred Cosart’s bullpen session Saturday morning whether he will return to the Marlins or pitch another game with the Z’s.