Blanks, Storm fly past JetHawks

Cal League All-Star's homer highlights nine-run frame in Game 2 win

(Mike Huffstatler/

September 9, 2007 4:45 PM ET

After leading the Lake Elsinore Storm in home runs and RBIs this season, Kyle Blanks led them to a win in Game 2 of the California League South Division Finals.

Blanks crushed a three-run homer to cap a nine-run sixth inning as Lake Elsinore rallied past host Lancaster, 14-9, on Sunday to tie the series at 1-1.

Blanks led off the sixth with a single and scored on Seth Johnston's homer to center field. Jose Lobaton and Sean Kazmar followed with RBI doubles before David Freese and Josh Howard delivered run-scoring singles to give the Storm a 10-7 lead.

Blanks came up for the second time in the frame and crushed a three-run homer to break the game open. The 6-foot-6, 280-pound first baseman, who turns 21 on Tuesday, batted .301 with 24 homers and 100 RBIs en route to gaining Cal League All-Star status.

"Once it got started, it just kept going," Blanks said of the sixth-inning outburst. "We finally got a good lead on these guys, and it was a confidence booster.

"It feels really good [to tie up the series], considering we're going back home," he added. "Ideally, two is what you really want, but a split is something you will take. I think we have a really good shot to finish this at home."

Josh Alley ripped a bases-loaded single in the fifth that was misplayed by center fielder Michael Hall and came all the way around to score.

Johnston lifted a sacrifice fly in the eighth to pad the lead. Lobaton and Kazmar each had three hits with two runs scored, and Alley added two hits and scored twice for Lake Elsinore.

Storm reliever Richie Daigle (2-0) picked up the win, despite yielding two runs on two hits and a walk while striking out three over 3 2/3 innings. Starter Corey Kluber allowed six runs on five hits and three walks and fanned one in 2 1/3 frames.

Salvador Paniagua belted two homers, a three-run shot in the second and a solo shot in the sixth, for the JetHawks, who set a league record with 217 homers and led the circuit with a .296 average and 1,008 RBIs.

Lars Anderson slugged a two-run blast and Brad Correll lifted a sacrifice fly in the third as Lancaster raced to a 6-0 advantage. Correll added a solo homer in the fifth.

JetHawks reliever Blake Maxwell (0-1) recorded one out in the sixth and was charged with five runs on four hits and a walk. Starter Dustin Richardson surrendered four runs -- one earned -- on five hits and a walk with two strikeouts in five frames. The 23-year-old left-hander went 4-0 with a 2.75 ERA in his previous four starts.

After grounding out with a man on third to end the fifth, Lake Elsinore right fielder Craig Cooper was ejected by first-base umpire Tripp Gibson.

"That was a big turning point in the game," said Blanks, whose team trailed in the fifth, 6-4. "That was a play that could have brought us within one run. The call could have obviously gone the other way. I believe he was safe."

Pitching coach Steve Webber was tossed by home-plate umpire Adam Hamari in the fourth.

Game 3 of the best-of-5 series is Monday in Lake Elsinore.

Marc Jimenez is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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