May 14—MOOSIC — Ben Rortvedt stepped up to the plate in the fifth inning with Scranton/
Wilkes-Barre in a prime position to score some runs: bases loaded, nobody out.
While he drove in one run, Omaha limited the impact by recording three outs on the play, swinging momentum back into its favor.
When Rortvedt came up in the ninth in a bigger spot, with the RailRiders' hopes more dire, he didn't let the Storm Chasers off the hook.
Down to their last two outs, the RailRiders stunned Omaha when Rortvedt crushed a three-run homer deep to right that capped a five-run surge in the ninth inning of an 8-6 win Saturday at PNC Field.
"Especially how the game was so back and forth with a couple miscues, it felt good to come through," said Rortvedt, who finished 3 for 5 with four RBIs to improve to a .321 batting average and 1.013 OPS in eight games with the RailRiders.
After the RailRiders (17-21) worked back-to-back walks to start the ninth, Omaha (14-22) turned things over to Brooks Kriske, who had carved up his former team Thursday night when he struck out four in 1 2/3 innings. It was the third time Saturday that the RailRiders had the first two runners on base in an inning, but had only one run to show for those opportunities.
Their best chance came in the fifth inning, when they loaded the bases with no outs against Omaha starter Austin Cox. But after Rortvedt hit a smash to shortstop, the inning ended in a blink. Omaha's Angelo Castellano backhanded it on one hop and flipped to second to force out Estevan Florial hustling in from first. Wilmer Difo, who had been on second, got hung up between the bases and eventually was tagged at third for the second out.
Omaha's players started to walk off the field thinking the inning was over, which led to Rortvedt walking off, too. Once everyone realized there were only two outs, Rortvedt was tagged for the third out on the play. Because he was initially safe at first, however, Jamie Westbrook was able to score from third to tie the game at 3.
They had the first two on in the sixth, then banged into a double play. Two more in the eighth, another double play.
But in the ninth, Westbrook hustled down the line after hitting a grounder to third, so Omaha could only get one out on the play. Franchy Cordero followed with a pinch-hit, RBI single and Florial, whose two-run homer in the third inning started the scoring for the RailRiders, followed with another base hit to cut it to 6-5.
That set the stage for Rortvedt, and he turned around a high, two-strike pitch from Kriske and drilled it 102.5 mph, 388 feet out to right. Westbrook splashed him with the first Gatorade cooler as he trotted down the third-base line, then Rortvedt jumped on the plate and his teammates hit him with another cooler of water.
"It's extremely satisfying to see these guys fight back like they did and it come through in the end," RailRiders manager Shelley Duncan said. "We've shown that. We've shown that a lot this season. We've show that this series. And to do it like that, that's extremely satisfying."
Omaha scored three runs on five hits in the first inning against RailRiders starter Tanner Tully, then didn't get on the board again until the sixth when CJ Alexander homered off Greg Weissert to break a 3-all tie. The Storm Chasers padded their lead in the top of the ninth on Samad Taylor's two-out, two-run double off Aaron McGarity, cashing in on their own two-on, no-out opportunity to put a third consecutive win in sight.
But Rortvedt's homer snapped that streak and secured at least a series split for the RailRiders, who improved to 7-4 on the homestand.
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