Win, Blown Save, No-No All In Storm’s Split at Inland Empire
The Storm traveled north to San Bernardino to face the Anaheim Angels’ representative in the Cal League, Inland Empire 66ers for a 4-game series. The 66ers, losers of five straight, were just what the Boys by the Lake needed to get back on the winning track, having lost three in a row to the Stockton Ports over the weekend. Both teams came in to Monday’s game with identical 10-15 records. The top hitter for Inland Empire is infielder Luis Rengifo, who leads the 66ers in at-bats, hits, runs scored, stolen bases, batting average and slugging percentage, while center fielder Buddy Reed leads the Storm in runs scored, hits, home runs, total bases, stolen bases and on base percentage.
Game One saw the return of right hander Chris Paddock to the active roster for the Storm, and the 6’4 Austin, Texas native did nothing to disappoint. He scattered three hits over six shutout innings while striking out seven. Relievers David Bednar and Trevor Megill combined to go the final three innings to secure Paddock’s first win of the season. On the offensive side, (CF) Buddy Reed and (DH) Jorge Ona combined to hit for the cycle with Reed cranking out a home run and two singles. Ona chipped in a single, double and the hardest part, a three bagger. Erik Manoah started for the 66ers and took the loss, giving up five runs (all earned), on seven hits and striking out six. His record stands at one win and two losses.
Game 2 went to the host 66ers, who managed only five hits but worked three Storm pitchers for seven walks. On the flip side, Storm batters provided the free air conditioning by striking out twelve times. First baseman Hudson Potts cranked out his fourth home run of the season in the losing effort. Starter Reggie Lawson pitching five and a third innings of four hit, one run ball despite giving up four free passes. With the Storm nursing a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh, Elliot Ashbeck was called on to try and keep the score intact. Blame it on the San Bernardino winds but he wasn’t able to get it done, walking third baseman Alberto Triunfel, hitting shortstop Luis Rengifo, walking second basemen Jahmai Jones, throwing a wild pitch scoring Triunfel before getting catcher Jack Kruger to hit into double play that scored Rengifo which gave the 66ers a 3-2 lead that would stand. Jonah Wesley picked up the win in relief with Sean Isaac picking up save number one on the season. Ashbeck suffered his second blown save and was hung with the loss, dropping his record to zero wins and two losses.
Game 3 had Lake Hitters feeling pretty good about their chances against opposing pitcher Jason Alexander, who’d been lit up like a Christmas tree in his previous four starts. His ERA stood at 5.79 to go along with a one win and two loss record. He got back on track in a big way, pitching seven hitless innings while striking out eight. He got help from relievers, Zac Ryan and Sean Isaac, who each tossed a frame of hitless ball to preserve a 4-0 win and complete the first no-hitter in the Cal League this season. A perfect game was gone when center fielder Edward Olivares drew a walk to start the game. Inland Empire were generous on that front, issuing six free passes for the game. The Storm weren’t able to capitalize and young lefty, Adrian Morejon was the losing pitcher, finishing with a line of: 5 innings, 4 hits, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts and home runs by Luis Rengifo and Jordan Zimmerman. Morejon’s record falls to 0 – 3.
Game 4 started with back to back triples off the bats of Edward Olivares and Buddy Reed. Both runners would score to give the Storm a quick 2-0 lead. It would last until the bottom of the fourth, when singles by 66ers’ Brandon Sandoval and Jonah Todd, a passed ball by catcher Luis Torrens, a wild pitch by Storm starter Pedro Avila and a two-run double by Alberto Truinfel would give Inland their first lead of the game. The Lake responded in the top of fifth after Kelvin Melean was hit by a Alex Klonowski pitch, Back-to-back singles started the next frame, and Taylor Kohlwey followed with his second big fly of the year, giving the Storm the lead back at 5-3. The 66ers immediately answered in the bottom of the fifth, when a walk to Luis Rengifo, followed by the second wild pitch by Avila, who then saw Jahmai Jones single to right scoring Rengifo. Jones stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Luis Torrens. Brandon Sandoval hit a sacrifice fly to center off newly inserted reliever David Bednar. It was like an old school street brawl as the Storm connected with the go ahead run in the top of the sixth on Hudson Potts’ sixth homer of the season. They’d add two more in the eighth off reliever Aaron Cox to run the score to 8-5. David Bednar picked up his second win of the campaign and Lake Bachar went four innings to pick up his first save of the year. Tyler Stevens took the loss, dropping to one win with two losses.
Up next for the Storm (11 – 17) is a 3-game weekend series at The Diamond starting on Friday to square off against the Modesto Nuts (12 – 16) at 7 pm.
By Ed Alcaraz