Fans were treated to some exciting baseball to start the 2017 season at The Diamond against the Modesto Nuts over the weekend. Highlights include a 14-inning marathon, a career first for a Padres top prospect, and a come-from-behind ninth inning rally that has fans optimistic about the new season.
LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. - Fans were treated to some exciting baseball to start the 2017 season at The Diamond against the Modesto Nuts over the weekend. Highlights include a 14-inning marathon, a career first for a Padres top prospect, and a come-from-behind ninth inning rally that has fans optimistic about the new season.
Fourteen innings is what it took to decide the victor in the Storm home opener on Friday night in fornt of 7,014 fans. Falling behind early thanks to a pair of Modesto long balls, highly-touted Padres prospect and Storm center fielder Michael Gettys tied things up at two with a fifth-inning home run over the left field wall that left the park in a hurry.
After tying the game at 2-2 through five innings, teams traded zeros over the next eight frames. The Storm bullpen, highlighted by right-hander Chris Huffman's performance in which he threw three perfect innings in relief while collecting three punchouts. In all, Storm relievers threw ten innings to surrender just one run on three hits.
After trading quick at-bats, the first two Nuts hitters got on board before Storm righty Trevor Frank collected two outs while keeping the runners at first and second. Then it was a Gianfranco Wawoe ground ball down the third base line that stayed flat enough to hit the bag and pop into the outfield, plating Joey Curletta for what would prove to be the winning run.
Game two had a very different feel to it for the Storm, who got the bats going early after a six-hit performance the previous night. After Gettys reached base on a wild throw from third to start the bottom half of the first inning, three straight singles followed to plate two runs.
A two-out rally in the second inning tacked on two more Storm runs, highlighted by a Chris Baker triple that was immediately followed by a Josh Naylor double.
Meanwhile, former first-round pick Cal Quantrill looked strong to start the game, facing the minimum through three innings while getting plenty of run support from his teammates.
Quantrill got out of a tight jam in the fourth inning. After allowing the first three Nuts hitters to reach base, he worked his way out of what could have been a much more damaging inning, allowing just one run.
The Storm would strike again in the bottom of the fourth; scoring three more times to give their starting pitcher comfortable room to earn his first professional win. The offense was highlighted by Baker and Naylor, who each collected three base hits. Baker reached base safely his first four plate appearances while scoring three times. Naylor collected three RBIs in his first three at-bats.
With the Storm evening the series at 1-1, game three would prove to be the most exciting yet. Both offenses came out swinging, each striking for a run in the first frame before Modesto took a 5-1 lead into the fourth.
The Storm would rally back to plate five runs in the bottom half of the fourth, which was started by a Taylor Kohlwey leadoff double.
That lead didn't last long, however, as back-to-back Nuts home runs began the fifth frame and two more Nuts scored in the eighth inning to give Modesto a 9-6 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.
The wheels came off for the Nuts. After recording an out to start the bottom frame, a couple of walks, hits, and a costly throwing error plated two runs and loaded the bases for the Storm. Baker then drew a bases loaded walk on four pitches to tie the game before Naylor watched four balls go by to draw a walk-off walk and give the Storm a 10-9 win.
The offense was highlighted by Peter Van Gansen, who tallied three singles and a walk while plating a run and scoring twice. Austin Allen picked up two doubles to give himself three through three games, while Baker, Gettys, and Kohlwey each collected two hits.
Picking up the win for the Storm was right-hander Colby Blueberg, who threw the final two innings of the game.
The final game of the series, Sunday afternoon, was a fairly quiet one offensively for the Storm, who didn't crack the run column until the bottom of the sixth inning, when Gettys led the inning off with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly.
Any sort of rally never truly developed for the Storm on Sunday afternoon. They were able to salvage a run in the bottom of the ninth, but fell to Modesto, 6-2, to split the series.
Gettys paced the Storm offense with three base knocks, while Ty France added a pair of base hits for Lake Elsinore.
The Storm continue their seven-game home stand to start the season when they welcome the Visalia Rawhide to The Diamond for a three-game series beginning Monday at 6pm.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.