Lake Elsinore, CA -
The Lake Elsinore Storm advanced to the California League Championship Series, eliminating the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes with a 1-0 win on Tuesday night at The Diamond in Lake Elsinore, taking the best-of-five series, three games to one.
Jake Blackwood's infield single knocked in the only run of the game, while Storm starter Nick Schmidt fired eight scoreless innings, holding the Quakes to a season-low two hits.
Quakes' starter Chris Reed was tremendous, in just his fourth professional appearance, striking out a career-best seven hitters, allowing just one run on four hits over five innings.
With two outs in the fourth, Reed gave up back-to-back singles, as Nate Freiman and Eddie Rodriguez both singled to put runners at the corners. Blackwood followed with a scorching one-hopper to the right of shortstop Rafael Ynoa. Ynoa made a diving stop and from his knees, made a throw to second baseman Jaime Pedroza to attempt to get the force on Rodriguez. Pedroza couldn't handle the throw though, as Freiman came in to score what turned out to be the game's lone run.
Schmidt allowed his first hit in the fifth, when Blake Smith led off with a double over the head of center fielder Reymond Fuentes. The Quakes were unable to advance him and Smith was left stranded in scoring position, as the Storm held their 1-0 lead.
Bret Montgomery took over for Reed (0-1) in the sixth and ended up retiring eight of the nine men he faced over three scoreless innings, giving the Quakes' offense a chance to rally from a one-run deficit.
Angelo Songco surprised the Storm defense by leading off the seventh inning with a bunt single. A wild pitch moved him to second base with one out, but he was left stranded as well, one of four Quakes' runners left on base on the night.
Jeff Ibarra took over in the ninth for Schmidt (1-0), who tied a career-high with nine strikeouts over his eight frames.
Anthony Jackson smoked a line drive to open the inning, but right at Storm third baseman Edinson Rincon for the first out. Wilberto Ortiz followed by tapping back to the mound and Angelo Songco was retired with a pop-up to shortstop Jeudy Valdez, ending the game and giving Ibarra his first save of the post-season.
The Storm will now face the Stockton Ports in the California League Championship Series, after Stockton defeated San Jose on Tuesday night, to clinch the North Division Finals, three games to one. Game one of the Championship Series will be on Thursday night in Lake Elsinore, with game two to follow on Friday night. The series will head north to Stockton on Saturday for games three through five, if necessary.
The Quakes would like to once again thank all of the people who made the 2011 season so very special. THANK YOU to the fans, the Season Ticket Holders, the Groups that came out to The Epicenter, our Corporate Partners and Sponsors, the Quakes Booster Club, the City of Rancho Cucamonga, the Game Day Staff, the Full-Time Staff, the players, the coaches and everyone who visited The Epicenter in 2011...THANK YOU for a great year. We hope to see you again in 2012...Go Quakes!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.