Lake Elsinore, CA- The Inland Empire 66ers rode the right arms of Mark Sappington, Eduard Santos, Jairo Diaz and the bat of Mark Shannon and secured a 4-3 win on Monday. The win earned the Sixers a four-game series split with the Lake Elsinore Storm as IE bagged the final two games of the set.
The 66ers trailed 1-0 after one inning when Lake Elsinore (38-28) scored an unearned run off starter Mark Sappington. The righty from Peculiar, MO settled in however and the Inland Empire offense would capitalize on a Storm defensive miscue to stake Sappington (1-3) to a lead.
Luis Domoromo dropped a pop-fly off the bat of Inland Empire's Alex Allbritton to lead off the third inning. He was charged with an error, but Storm starter Bryce Morrow (1-1) got the next two outs and was on the cusp of escaping trouble in the frame when Sherman Johnson flared a single to center. Mark Shannon then stepped to the plate. Shannon promptly smacked his third homer of the year over the right field wall to give the Sixers a 3-1 advantage.
The Storm would not go down quietly however as after two consecutive outs in the fourth, it was Sappington who was stung by a lightning-quick two-out rally. Gabriel Quintana flopped a broken-bat single to right followed by a rocket to right for Domoromo to put runners at first and second. Benji Gonzalez then blasted a double down the right field line t0 knock in two and tie the game 3-3.
The Sixers had an answer in the sixth. Shannon led off with a bullet off the glove of the first baseman Domoromo for an infield hit. Shannon, the Littleton, CO native, finished 3-for-4 with three RBI, two runs scored and raised his average to .293. Cal Towey then singled. A fielder's choice moved Shannon to third and he came in on Wade Hinkle's sacrifice fly to make it 4-3.
Sappington pitched into the seventh, he was relieved by Eduard Santos with two outs in the frame and the potential tying run at second. Santos calmly fanned Storm All-Star Hunter Renfroe on three pitches to end the threat. Sappington finished with 6.2 IP, four runs, three earned, four K's and two walks. Santos tossed a scoreless eighth and Jairo Diaz locked down his second save of the year with a perfect ninth.
Inland Empire will be back in action at San Manuel Stadium on Wednesday when they face the Visalia Rawhide for the first time in 2014. First pitch is slated for 7:05 pm and can be heard live at 66ers.com beginning at 6:50 pm.