It was a night that began a bit ugly, and turned into something nearly special for the host club.
Daniel Renken (L, 4-4) got the start for the Blaze and ran into immediate trouble. The Storm sent 10 men to the plate in the first inning, and Renken allowed 5 runs on 4 singles and 3 walks, and was pulled before inning number two. That left the rest of the game up to the bullpen, though their efforts would matter very little. The cavalry of Chris Joyce (2.1 innings, 1 unearned run), Mike Griffin (1.1 innings, 4 runs, 2 missed flyballs), Blaine Howell (1.1 scoreless), Daniel Wolford (1.0 scoreless), and Brooks Pinckard (1.0) allowed the Storm to pad their lead to double digits, but Lake Elsinore needed just the first RBI for Mark Pope.
Pope (W, 5-6), moving back into the starting rotation and making his 3rd start after a bullpen break, was the epitome of finesse. He went 6.0 no-hit innings, allowing just 1 walk without a strikeout. The Blaze could not so much as get a runner past second base off the righty.
Yefri Carvahal pitched the 7th and 8th innings, and it was in the 7th when the no-hit bid began to truly feel real. Donald Lutz and Travis Mattair each smashed liners, with Chris Bisson, the Storm shortstop, making an all-out diving grab on Mattair's shot to the hole. Carvahal walked a batter in the 8th, but struck out the side around that free pass.
In the 9th inning, Alexis Lara came on to try to get the final 3 outs for the Storm and wrap up the no-hitter, and it looked like he might get there. Billy Hamilton, fresh off his 100-stolen-base game the night before, grounded back to the box on the first pitch of the inning, and Lara then jumped ahead of Kurtis Muller 1-and-2. But Muller was up to the task. Kurtis got a slider on the inside edge and turned on it, lining a clean double into the leftfield corner to break up the no-hitter. Lara then retired Lutz and Mattair to end the game, giving the Storm an easy 10-0 win, but the lack of no-hitter let to a palpable sigh from the packed house.
The loss drops the Blaze to 6-7 in the second half, and to 11 games over 500 overall. The team has now dropped 3 straight series, but will try to get things ironed out at home over the next 6 days.
Tomorrow is the Blaze July 4th Independence Day Fireworks Extravaganza - join the team at Sam Lynn Ballpark for a game and a nighttime airborne pyrotechnic show at 7:45pm!
Can't make it? Listen live at BakersfieldBlaze.com, as Dan Besbris, with functional internet, will call all the action from start to finish.
Can't make it OR listen? Get a ticket to Friday's game - the OTHER fireworks show on the homestand! There are two this year!