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Hamilton Steals Five, Blaze Race Past Storm 7-606/17/2012 4:18 AM ET
In what may be the most remarkable feat in a season packed with incredible displays, the Bakersfield Blaze stole 10 bases as a team with Billy Hamilton leading the charge with five, and the Blaze beat the Lake Elsinore Storm in the first half finale on Saturday night, 7-6.
With the fans donning their new Blaze sunglasses (courtesy of El Pollo Loco), the game got off to a quick start. Chad Rogers, one of the Blaze All Stars, set down the side in order. In the bottom of the first inning, Hamilton drew a leadoff walk and promptly stole second and third on consecutive pitches, then scored on a Theo Bowe single. Bowe then stole second for the first of his 3 steals on the night, but was left there.
The Storm got their first run in the 3rd. Rico Noel singled with 2 outs, stole second, moved to third on a throwing error, and scored on one of Justin Miller's 4 hits. The game then went on a rollercoaster.
In the top of the 5th inning, the Storm put together a 2-out rally against Justice French. A walk, a single and a double plus 2 more Lake Elsinore steals put the Storm up 3-1, though the lead was short-lived. In the bottom of the inning, Bakersfield got a 1-out single from Kurtis Muller, another steal, and an eventual error plated Kurtis. Then, in the 6th, Bakersfield added 2 more on an error and a Tucker Barnhart 2-run homer, and the Blaze led 4-3.
The Storm came right back in the next half inning. With Kyle McMyne (W, 1-1) on to preserve the lead, Justin Miller clubbed a 2-run homer to put Lake Elsinore on top, 5-4. But, like all previous leads in this game, it didn't last long. In the bottom of the 7th, Kurtis Muller led off the inning with a double, and Hamilton immediately followed with a RBI single to chase Storm reliever Chris Wilkes (L, 0-2). Ryan Quigley entered, but shoddy defense allowed the Blaze to score 2 additional runs, and turn a 5-4 deficit into a 7-5 lead.
The Storm got one more in the 8th on a Rymer Liriano solo shot, his second of the series, but Brooks Pinckard (S, 1) retired the side in order in the 9th to wrap up the win for the Blaze.
The victory moves Bakersfield to 41-29 in the first half, the most wins since 1991 for a Bakersfield franchise.
Tomorrow marks the start of the All Star Break, a 4-day hiatus from baseball. The Blaze resume their second half schedule on Thursday with a 4-game series in Rancho Cucamonga. Be sure to tune in to that game live on BakersfieldBlaze.com, as Dan Besbris calls all the action. 7:05pm, first pitch; pregame show at 6:55pm.