MEMPHIS, Tennessee – Memphis trailed 4-2 in the bottom of the eighth and 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth, but two runs in the home-half of each inning gave the Redbirds a 6-5 walk-off win over the Omaha Storm Chasers (Triple-A Royals)Saturday night in front of 8,265 fans at AutoZone Park.
The Redbirds led 2-1 after 6.0 innings of work by Alex Reyes, who became the second-straight Redbird starter to work at least 6.0 innings after the previous 10 did not. Reyes struck out eight and issued two walks while scattering six hits, five of which were singles.
Miguel Socolovich needed 10 pitches, all strikes, to take care of the Storm Chasers in the seventh, but he loaded the bases in the eighth before being lifted in favor of Sam Tuivailala. Tuivailala gave up a three-run double to the first batter he faced, and Memphis trailed 4-2 after seven-and-a-half.
But the Redbirds answered right back and tied the game in the eighth with two runs, which came on just one hit and four walks. Jose Martinez singled to start the inning, went to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a walk and scored on another free pass. Efren Navarro then sprinted home on the inning’s second wild pitch, and the game was tied at 4.
Omaha had two doubles in the top of the ninth off Tuivailala and regained a 5-4 lead, which was short-lived as the Redbirds had a trio of one-out singles in the home-half of the ninth, including a run-scoring knock by Carson Kelly, to set upAnthony Garcia’s sacrifice fly that scored Navarro and gave Memphis a series win over the Storm Chasers.
Breyvic Valera was on base five times in the game, going 3-for-3 with two walks, and he is hitting .545 (12-22) on his six-game hitting streak. He also drove in a pair of runs, and he now has eight RBI in the last five games after having 13 in his first 40 Triple-A games.
Martinez finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and Kelly was 2-for-5 with an RBI. Navarro entered the game as a defensive replacement in the seventh and walked and singled and scored both times he stepped to the plate.
Dean Kiekhefer earned the win after retiring the two Omaha hitters he faced in the ninth, and he is now 5-1 on the season.
The Redbirds head to New Orleans to play six games in four days tomorrow through Wednesday, and after a league-wide off day on Thursday Memphis returns to AutoZone Park for eight games Friday the 12th through Friday the 19th. The upcoming homestand features a “Yadi-Air Freshener” giveaway on the 12th, a Trevor Rosenthal Talking Bobblehead Theme Ticket and postgame fireworks on the 13th, and weekly promotions Prairie Farms Ice Cream Sunday, King Cotton $1 Hot Dog Night (Tuesday) and College Night (Thursday).