Once again, the Lake Elsinore Storm found themselves down big early when Storm starting pitcher Miguel Mendez surrendered four earned runs through just 1.2 innings pitched. He would be the third consecutive starting pitcher for the Storm to surrender multiple runs and not reach the fourth inning. Alejandro Lugo would
Once again, the Lake Elsinore Storm found themselves down big early when Storm starting pitcher Miguel Mendez surrendered four earned runs through just 1.2 innings pitched. He would be the third consecutive starting pitcher for the Storm to surrender multiple runs and not reach the fourth inning. Alejandro Lugo would then make his first appearance as a member of the Lake Elsinore Storm as give up a run in the first full frame he managed before hunkering down and ultimately going 3.1 innings with only the one run earned.
This put the Storm down 5-0 through three innings in a series they absolutely need to win in order to keep any semblance of playoff aspirations within their grasp. So, much like Sunday afternoon, they began chipping away at the 66ers lead.
It began with a Samuel Zavala single that scored Homer Bush Jr. that gave the Storm their first run of the game. Then, in the fifth inning, Charlis Aquino would double to bring Griffin Doersching home. There would be no runs scored in the next two full innings as both teams' bullpens held strong. However, in the bottom of the 8th and down three runs, Bush Jr would hit a leadoff double to set up a two-run inning that got the Storm within a run with three outs remaining.
After another scoreless half inning for the Storm's bullpen, who would ultimately go 8.1 innings allowing just one run, five hits, and striking out eight batters, the Storm would have one more shot to tie the game and come back from five runs down through the first three innings of play.
Charlis Aquino, a key figure in tonight's story, would begin the inning with a walk. A wild pitch would then push the speedy second baseman to second and then, something unthinkable. A routine fly out to left field for Kevin Watson Jr would be dropped, allowing Aquino to score and pushing Linares to second base. Unfortunately, the Storm weren't able to walk it off after that and would be headed to extra innings in pursuit of their seventh walk-off of the season.
In the top of the 10th, Ruben Galindo would take the mound with the automatic runner at second base. He would strike out the first batter he faced before walking the next batter and letting a single trickle into left field. Fortunately, no runs would score as Doersching would cut the runner down before making it home in the next at bat and ending the 66ers' night at the plate with another strikeout.
In the bottom of the 10th, a Hard Hat-earning bunt from Nick Vogt would push the runner to third. The 66ers would then intentionally walk Samuel Zavala, his second of the night, and Rosman Verdugo to load the bases with one out. Aquino, after making an impact all night long, would swagger his way to the plate looking to complete the comeback. It would take him all six pitches to do so but his 10th-inning walk-off served as the Storm's official 7th walk-off of the season and second against Inland Empire this season.
The Storm are now five games back of the 66ers for the second-half playoff spot with 12 games remaining against the team they are chasing. They will play one of those 12 games tomorrow night for Woof Wednesday Presented by What's Barking Dog Treats.