Omaha blasted its way to an 11-2 win over the Reno Aces in Game 4 of the Pacific Coast League Championship Saturday afternoon to force a fifth and deciding game for the first time in the league since 1998.
Omaha's all righty line-up took advantage of wind that gusted as high as 21 mph out to left field, slugging five home runs. Brian Bocock, Pedro Ciriaco, Brett Hayes and Brett Eibner hit their first home runs of the post-season for the Omaha Storm Chasers. Bocock hit two, equaling his total for Omaha in 97 regular season games.
After the game, Bocock described his mindset when he came up to the plate with the Storm Chasers down, 1-0, in the third inning.
"I think that today, the way the wind was blowing out - you're not going to see many one-run games in this ballpark," Bocock said. "So I was just going to go up there and try to get a first pitch fastball, or something that I could hit and I got under it and it went out."
His solo home run tied the game, and later in the same inning, Ciriaco hit a two-run home run to give Omaha the lead and they didn't look back.
"Ciriaco's two-strike homer was huge because now we're up 3-1," Bocock said. "And then Fergy does what he does best - fills the strike zone and puts a zero on the board and we came right back and scored five more runs [in the fourth inning]. Those were two big innings and we kind of shut them down from there."
Omaha starer Andy Ferguson (Fergy) changed speeds well, and challenged hitters. He gave up two earned runs over 5.2 innings, on six hits and a walk. He struck out seven. It was quite the turnaround from the last time he face Reno on August 27. He gave up four home runs that game. He said he made some adjustments between that start and this one.
"I probably threw some wrong pitches in wrong counts last time I faced them," Ferguson said. "It's a lot easier when your offense puts up eleven runs, and they [Reno] had a bunch of lefties in the lineup, so I needed to pitch inside anyway.
"Our defense played great and [Brett] Hayes caught a great game - I think I shook him off once the whole game."
Reno starter Charles Brewer gave up six earned runs on seven hits in just three innings of work, which was suprising, given Brewer's recent success. He had a 3-1 record with a 2.06 ERA in 39.1 IP over his last six games. In his last outing against Omaha on August 27, he limited the Storm Chasers to two runs on five hits in eight innings, and he struck out a season-high ten hitters.
Omaha relief pitcher Buddy Baumann took over for Ferguson in the sixth, pitching the final 3.1 innings without giving up a run. Omaha's bullpen has been remarkable in the playoffs - giving up just one unearned run on ten hits in 29 innings.
Game 5 will be played Sunday at 2:05 pm in Omaha. Aaron Brooks will start for Omaha. Mike Bolsinger is scheduled to start for Reno.