Storm 9, 66ers 6: Lake Elsinore Wins In Huge Comeback

Austin Hedges and Travis Jankowski answer questions for Padres season ticket holders before the game. - Richard Garfinkel

As you may have heard, the Padres weren't on TV yesterday. So I did the only thing I could to watch some baseball yesterday and went to Lake Elsinore to watch the Storm take on the Inland Empire 66ers in the sweltering heat. With temperatures hitting triple digits, it may not have been my best idea ever, but it paid off when the the Storm beat the Angels affiliate after coming back from a five run deficit.

Starting pitcher Frank Garces was pretty shaky, giving up five runs in just 3.2 innings of work. In that time, he gave up 7 hits and 4 walks while only recording one strikeout. He also threw one wild pitch and allowed the first run of the game to score on an error. Catcher Jeremy Rodriguez (yes, I was disappointed I didn't get to see dreamboat Austin Hedges in action) did an admirable job of keeping Garces's wildness under control. Garces was pulled in the fourth after giving up a two-out, two-run homer to second baseman Michael Snyder and then walking the next two batters. John Hussey took the mound to strike out right fielder Joel Capote to end the inning, but the damage was already done. 5-0 66ers.

After the Storm went down in order for the fourth straight inning, things were looking bleak. Was the heat getting to them? Was the team with the best logo in baseball going to be shut out by some idiots named after a highway? No, they were not. First baseman Robert Kral and right fielder Jeremy Baltz led off the bottom of the fifth with a pair of walks and then advanced on a passed ball. That's when third basemen Duanel Jones hit a two run single to get the Storm back in the game.

It was two steps forward, one step back as the 66ers scored an unearned run in the top of the sixth when shortstop Jace Peterson made an embarrassing mistake. With one out and shortstop Eric Stamets on third, designated hitter Michael Snyder hit an easy ground ball and Stamets was caught in a rundown. It was a routine enough play until Peterson missed the catch and allowed Stamets to score. Snyder was caught trying to take third in the confusion.

Down by four, the Storm were in need of another big inning to get back in the game, and they got it. Center fielder and all around speed demon Travis Jankowski led off the bottom of the sixth with a double and then scored on second baseman B.J. Guinn's single. Peterson walked, putting two men on for Baltz's game-tying home run, his third of the year.

The game was still tied in the bottom of the eighth, and nobody wanted to play any more baseball than necessary with the temperature still in the 90s. So Peterson picked up a single and then stole second, which put Baltz in the position to break out the heroics for the second time. With two outs, he hit a single to center field and Peterson scored the game-winning run. The Storm picked up two more runs in the eighth to give closer Johnny Barbato a little extra room to work with. He didn't need it, throwing a scoreless inning to pick up his 14th save of the season.

I had a great time despite the heat, and I'd definitely recommend a trip to Lake Elsinore for anybody who's never been. It's a lovely stadium and minor league ball is a lot of fun to watch. Just don't do it when it's a hundred degrees out.

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