Paced by three home runs, the Omaha Storm Chasers (60-54) got out to a big lead and held on for a 7-5 victory over the Iowa Cubs (61-56) on Sunday at Werner Park. The win put Omaha into first place in the PCL American North division, leading Iowa by .5 games with two games left to play in the series between the top two teams in the division.
Things started out well for Iowa when Javier Baez blasted his 22nd home run in the first inning to temporarily give the Cubs the lead.
Omaha’s offense scored early and often against Iowa starter Dae-Eun Rhee. Rhee (1-1) gave up seven runs over the first five innings. Carlos Peguero blasted two solo home runs against Rhee to give him 19 for the season. Matt Fields also connected off Rhee, hitting his 22nd home run of the season for the Storm Chasers. Rhee surrendered ten hits and one walk over five innings, leading to seven Omaha runs.
Iowa began to rally in the sixth. Baez launched his second home run (23) of the game to lead off the sixth. Baez has 78 RBI on the season, trailing only Adam Duvall of Fresno for the league-lead. Duvall has 81 RBI. Kris Bryant followed Baez with a double to right. After Omaha starter Aaron Brooks (8-3) struck out the next two batters, back-to-back singles by Josh Vitters and Rafael Lopez cut the Omaha lead to 7-3 with runners on first and third. Ryan Kalish added an infield single to load the bases but the Cubs were unable to capitalize when Matt Szczur grounded out to second to end the threat.
Iowa cut the lead to 7-5 in the seventh when Jorge Soler roped a two-run double to left-center field scoring Logan Watkins and Baez.
From there, the Omaha bullpen shut the door. Jason Adam tossed two scoreless innings while Casey Coleman sent Iowa down in order in the ninth to pick up the save against his former team.
Josh Vitters had three hits for Iowa in the loss while Baez and Szczur added two each.
Game three of the four-game series is Monday night at Werner Park.