The fight was there. The will was strong, but the execution was just a hair shy, as the Bakersfield Blaze gave up two big innings to the visitors from Lake Elsinore, and despite a strong comeback try, the Storm were able to hang on and beat the Blaze 8-6 on Fireworks Friday in Bakersfield.
The early parts of the game led to strong optimism for the home team. Mike Dennhardt (L, 4-6) worked a strong 1st and 2nd, and the Blaze gave Mike a lead in the home half.
Sean Buckley began the 2nd inning with a double, and Marquez Smith followed with a green light on a 3-and-0 fastball that the veteran deposited for a two-run homer. Then, one out later, David Vidal doubled and Sebastian Elizalde singled him home for a 3-0 lead.
Dennhardt blitzed through the 3rd, as well, but the wheels came off in the 4th, where the Storm scored four runs on four hits to take the lead.
In the 5th, Lake Elsinore pulled out in front, all with two outs. Three straight singles plated the Storm's fifth run, but a controversial call at third on a strong throw from Nick Benedetto in center nearly ended the inning. After an argument, Dennhardt, perhaps rattled, grooved a slider, and Luis Domoromo delivered a haymaker with a three-run homer for an 8-3 lead.
The Blaze did claw back into it. Sebastian Elizalde followed Vidal's 5th-inning single with a home run to center to cut the hole to 8-5, and Storm starter Colin Rea (L, 8-5) was lifted after just five innings.
But the pen was up to the task. The Blaze got a single run in the 6th when Jeff Gelalich doubled and scored on a groundout, but that's the end of the run-scoring for the night.
Ryan Kemp and El'Hajj Muhammad combined on 4.1 innings of scoreless relief, and though the Blaze put two runners on in the 9th with nobody out, a botched sacrifice stymied the rally effort, and Brandon Alger (S, 9) finished the game for the Storm win, and his own save.
The loss is the 10th in 11 games for a slumping Blaze team that welcomes a new, and ice cold opponent to Sam Lynn over the weekend. Also of note, the Blaze no longer have the best record in the league, slipping into 2nd place overall for the first time since early May.
The series with the Storm has come to an end, but the homestand for the Blaze is just beginning as the Dodgers' affiliate, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, come to town for four games running Saturday through Tuesday at Sam Lynn Ballpark.
Saturday is the Blaze Game of the Week, as the first 1,000 fans in the ballpark will receive souvenir rally towels courtesy of Capital Dental. Gates open at 6:45pm, and first pitch is set for 7:45pm.
Fans can also listen to every moment of Blaze baseball action live on the radio and internet, as Dan Besbris has the call on SmartTalk AM-1230 and BakersfieldBlaze.com. The pregame show begins 5 minutes prior to first pitch.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.