Catcher Brett Hayes is swinging a hot bat and it’s helping Class AAA Omaha close in on a playoff spot.
Hayes’ solo home run in the sixth inning Sunday snapped a tie and the Storm Chasers went on to a 5-3 win against New Orleans. It was the sixth home run in four games for Hayes, who has 17 homers on the season.
Since returning to Omaha after a stint with the Royals while filling in for Salvador Perez when he was on the concussion disabled list, Hayes has hit .346 (nine for 26) in seven games with six homers and nine RBIs.
The Storm Chasers maintained their two-game lead over Memphis in the Pacific Coast League’s Northern America Division.
Starter Brian Sanches improved to 10-2 by allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits in six innings with four strikeouts. Maikel Cleto got his first save by pitching three innings of one-hit ball with four strikeouts.
Paulo Orlando had two hits and scored twice, while Pedro Ciriaco also collected two hits. He also had a double.
Omaha trailed 3-2 in the fifth when Quintin Berry walked, stole second and Orlando followed with a walk. After a bunt moved the runners up a base, Berry scored on Christian Colon’s ground out. An inning later, Hayes’ homer gave the Storm Chasers a 4-3 lead.
Johnny Giavotella’s sacrifice fly scored Orlando in the seventh inning for the final run.
Class AA Northwest Arkansas
Jorge Bonifacio’s two-run double in the seventh inning helped the Naturals rally for a 3-2 win against Arkansas.
Angel Franco led off the seventh with a double and after an out, Brett Eibner walked. Rey Navarro then reached on an error ahead of Bonifacio’s double.
Northwest Arkansas was down 2-0, but got a run back in the sixth inning when Edinson Rincon’s double scored Bonifacio, who had three hits in the game.
Starter Andy Ferguson gave up two runs on four hits in five innings with two walks and five strikeouts. Jon Keck, 4-4, allowed one hit with two strikeouts in two shutout innings. Spencer Patton got a pair of outs and Zach Jackson pitched the last 1 1/3 innings for his 16th save.
The Naturals moved within one game of first-place Arkansas in the Texas League North Division.
Class A-Advanced Wilmington
The Blue Rocks were held to four hits in a 6-2 loss at Potomac.
Dennis Raben hit a solo home run in the fourth and added an RBI double in the sixth for Wilmington.
Blue Rocks starter Tripp Davis, 0-1, allowed three runs on five hits in four innings with three walks and a strikeout.
Class A Lexington
Miguel Almonte allowed two runs in five innings and Bubba Starling continued his hot streak as the Legends beat Greenville 4-2.
Starling had two hits, including a solo homer, his 12th of the season. This month, Starling is hitting .347 with four doubles, three triples, three home runs and 12 RBIs. His OPS is 1.031 in that span.
Terrance Gore had two hits, scored twice and stole two bases, giving him 68 on the season.
Chas Byrne and John Walter each allowed one hit in two scoreless innings, with Walter picking up his eighth save.
Hunter Dozier, who left Saturday's game after being hit in the hand by a pitch, didn't play, but X-rays of his hand were negative.
Rookie-Advanced Idaho Falls
Great Falls scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to break open a close game and won 12-5 over the Chukars.
Starter Yender Caramo, 4-3, allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings. Reliever Matt Alvarez struggled in the eighth inning as he gave up two hits and walked two and all four runners scored as part of the big eighth inning.
Daniel Rockett hit two homers, including a solo homer, while Carlos Garcia was three for four.
After allowing a run in the top of the ninth, Bristol scored on in the bottom half and beat the Royals 6-5.
In the ninth, Desmond Henry singled with one out, stole second, moved to third on a ground out and scored on a wild pitch. However, Jose Miguel Rodriguez walked two, threw a wild pitch and saw another runner reach on an error. That loaded the bases and Rodriguez walked in the winning run.
Tyler Chism’s two-run triple in the seventh had staked the Royals to a 4-3 lead, but they gave up two in the eighth inning, setting up the ninth inning rallies.
Desmond Henry and Pedro Gomez each had two hits. Burlington starter Andres Machado gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked three and struck out one.