The Diamond- Lake Elsinore, California
The Lake Elsinore Storm were unable to take the series from the Inland Empire 66ers, as the visitors bagged the win 7-4. A short outing from Michel Baez and some sloppy defensive play dug the Storm a hole that their offense was unable to get out of. The Storm will look to right the ship in their next series against Rancho Cucamonga.
Baez, much like Ronald Bolanos last night, struggled in the first inning, but instead of giving up contact, it was his faulty command. Baez walked the second and fourth batters of the game, but maintained his velocity of 93-95 mph on his fastball. However, an RBI single by Brandon Sandoval brought Luis Rengifo racing home to score the game’s first run and gave the 66ers an early lead.
The Storm would thunder back in the bottom half of the inning as Eguy Rosario slashed a double to left field. Thanks to Luis Torrens beating out an infield single, Hudson Potts lined a single to left to bring Rosario in from third base. The Storm would catch a break in the second inning as well, as Inland Empire third baseman Alberto Truinfel put too much mustard on his throw to first base, sailing the throw over Jordan Zimmerman‘s head. The throw allowed Nate Easley to scurry home on the error.
Baez settled down after the second inning, generating lots of weak contact, and got a few strikeouts. However, he ran into trouble in the fifth inning. Three straight singles stung Baez and allowed a run to plate, and manager Edwin Rodriguez eventually pulled out Baez after 4.1 innings. Austin Smith, the first selection ever made by A.J. Preller, would come on for a relief appearance.
Unfortunately, a throwing error from catcher Luis Torrens allowed Rengifo to come home, and Jack Kruger cracked a single to right field to add an extra run off of Smith. The sixth inning would bring more runs for the 66ers as a bad mix of hard contact, sloppy fielding, and wild pitches led to two extra runs crossing the plate. Smith had to leave the game and David Bednar entered, allowing an inherited runner to cross the plate.
Bednar was unable to stop the bleeding as the 66ers striung together small hits until the seventh Inland Empire run crossed the plate on a Zimmerman single. The Storm wouldn’t go down without a fight as a Luis Torrens triple brought home Buddy Reed. Jorge Ona hit a deep fly ball to center field that allowed Torrens to trot home with the fourth run of the game.
However, these would be the final runs of the game for the Storm as Jeremy Beasley finished his four-inning outing by making quick work of the 8-9-1 batters in the Lake Elsinore lineup and the 66ers would take the rubber match of the series with a score of 7-4.
Storm players who stood out
The former Rule 5 pick continues to do nothing but hit at the High-A level as he went 3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI. Splitting time with Marcus Greene Jr, Torrens hasn’t had the lion’s share of the starts, but has been making some consistent noise with his approach at the plate. He has looked like a cool and confident hitter instead of the overmatched rookie struggling in a Padres jersey, and his triple to deep left was one of the hardest balls he hit all day. However, he struggled behind the plate as he had a few balls skip away from him, and a throwing error allowed a runner to score. He redeemed himself by throwing a runner out at third base, but he can’t afford to have days like this behind the plate, even if he has amazing days with the bat.
The lumbering righty was up and down in his start today, as he struggled through the first inning before settling down in innings two through four. The fifth inning saw him give up three singles before being lifted for a reliever, and his final score line was 4.1 innings pitched with four runs allowed and four strikeouts. His velocity was good, but his command was off all game, only throwing 48 strikes out of 84 pitches. Inland Empire hitters didn’t get hard hits off of him, but the small chinks in the armor were enough to wear down Baez in his start. He hasn’t dominated hitters like he had at Fort Wayne, but he will be given plenty of opportunities to improve himself.