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Storm blasts JetHawks in Game 309/11/2007 3:20 AM ET
By Tim Leonard
The distance between Lake Elsinore and Lancaster is only 110 miles, but the Storm would rather set their sights on a much longer journey north.
Lake Elsinore moved one win from the California League Finals after beating the visiting JetHawks, 9-2, on Monday in Game 3 of the best-of-5 South Division Championship Series.
Game 4 will take place at The Diamond on Tuesday with the Storm in position to earn a berth in the California League Championship against either San Jose or Visalia.
"We're having a lot of fun right now. We're going to [play Game 4] like we're down, 2-1," said third baseman David Freese, who was 2-for-5 with three RBIs. "We have to stay focused. If we go back to Lancaster, it's anybody's game.
"We have to come out and try to punch them in the gut right out of the gate and get a quick lead and see if we can put them away," Freese added.
The Storm hit three home runs and batted around during a six-run sixth inning that gave them a 7-0 lead.
Mike Baxter greeted reliever Ismael Casillas by going deep over the right-field fence to lead off the sixth. Juan Ciriaco followed with a double and scored on a single by Jose Lobaton. Two batters later, Freese crushed an 0-and-1 fastball to right-center for a three-run blast that made it 6-0. Kyle Blanks added a solo homer with two outs off Cody McAllister.
It was the second consecutive game that a big inning sent the Storm to a victory. Lake Elsinore scored nine runs in the sixth to overcome an early six-run deficit in Game 2.
"Baxter hit that home run and we said, 'Let's not stop here. Lancaster has a really good offense," Freese said. "We were fired up when [Blanks] put his out. What's new, though? That guy hits a home run every game."
Well, not quite. But Blanks does have three home runs and is batting .333 in this series. Ciriaco was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a solo homer in the seventh. Baxter was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Craig Cooper went 4-for-5 for the Storm, who totaled 13 hits.
Most of the damage was done against the Lancaster bullpen. JetHawks starter Travis Beazley (0-1) permitted just one run on six hits in five innings. He walked three and struck out two. Ismael Casillas served up two home runs as part of the five runs on four hits he gave up in one-third of an inning.
Lake Elsinore starter Stephen Faris (1-0) pitched six scoreless innings and the Storm turned double plays in four consecutive innings from the fifth to the eighth. Faris surrendered five hits and two walks while striking out two. Michael DeMark yielded two runs in the eighth on RBI doubles by Kristopher Negron and Jon Still.
Faris did not allow a baserunner to reach third until the fifth. Zak Farkes led off with a double and went to third on a single by Michael Hall. Faris retired Ryan Khoury on a popup and got Steve Garrabrants to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
"This was huge. Now we can finish it at home. We have to play like our backs are against the wall," Lake Elsinore manager Carlos Lezcano said. "We're on a nice, even keel. They're confident that someone will hit. It's someone different every night."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.