May started with renewed optimism, as the Storm had hoped that a series against the Inland Empire 66er’s would help them get to a .500 record. It didn’t happen as they dropped two of three games in San Bernardino. So, they welcomed the Modesto Nuts to town for a weekend series and with Buddy Reed and Hudson Potts hitting everything thrown their way, they figured to right the ship. Modesto had other ideas as they pulled an Inland Empire, taking two out of three games before heading out of town to take on the 18-13 Visalia Rawhide, an Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate.
Game One started out with clouds lingering above, a less than ideal 83° degree temperature in the air and a 10 mph wind blowing out to center. A festive Friday crowd of 4,161, most looking for a Lake Elsinore win, filled the stadium with talk of how center fielder Buddy Reed was named MiLB Player of the Month for April. Unfortunately, the talk would subside and the only noise that could be heard from the second inning on were the bats connecting for sixteen runs, three by way of the long ball. Versatile infielder Hudson Potts cranked out his sixth homer, second baseman Eguy Rosario doubled and homered, while catcher Luis Torrens would reach base five times. Storm hitters would strand a total of thirteen base-runners and the pitchers would issue five walks, ten hits, nine runs (seven earned) and struck out 8 Modesto batters. Austin Smith took the loss to fall to 0-1. The Nuts were led on offense by backstop Garrett Kennedy who finished with two walks and three RBI. Colin Rodgers picked up win number one on the season and Seth Elledge pitched the final two innings, notching his second save in as many chances.
Game Two had similar conditions, weather-wise, but a different feel on the field. Storm starter Michel Baez threw four innings, striking out seven Nuts batters while keeping the game scoreless. He gave way to 6’8 reliever Dauris Valdez, who threw two scoreless innings of his own. It wasn’t until the seventh inning that the scoreboard operator had to lift a finger. Center fielder Gareth Morgan smacked his seventh homer to center off David Bednar, putting the Nuts up 1-0. In the bottom of the same inning, Hudson Potts singled, advanced to second on a Brad Zunica walk and scored on a Eguy Rosario single, chasing starter Darren McCaughan. McGaughan went 6 2/3 innings, giving up four hits and striking out seven. Jack Anderson came on to get Marcus Greene, Jr. to ground out to end the inning. The only other run scored on the night, which turned out to be the game winner, came in the top of the ninth when Nuts second baseman Donnie Walton turned a Trevor Megill pitch into a souvenir for his third home run of the year. Wyatt Mills pitched the ninth for his second save of the year, Jack Anderson got the win, his first on the season, and Trevor Megill was collared with the loss, his first of the year.
Game three saw Chris Paddack take the hill for his second start of the season for Lake Elsinore as manager Edwin Rodriguez mix up his batting order. Buddy Reed would lead off and Edward Olivares dropped to third. Both Paddack and Reed would prove worthy of being written into the lineup. Reed would score two runs and steal his fifteenth base of the season while Paddack threw four solid innings, giving up three hits, no runs and striking nine. Overall, the offense pounded out twelve hits and scored eight runs en route to an 8-3 victory. Hudson Potts hit his seventh home run, while Eguy Rosario, Luis Torrens and Edward Olivares had two hits each against three Modesto hurlers. Nuts DH Evan White had two hits and catcher Garrett Kennedy drove in two. Lake Elsinore reliever Elliot Ashbeck pitched the final two frames for his first victory of the campaign while Modesto starter Randy Bell was charged with his first loss.
Up next for the Storm (12 – 19) is a Tuesday through Thursday series at The Diamond to face off against the Dodgers’ affiliate, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (14 – 17) at 7 pm.
By Ed Alcaraz