LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. - The home stand began with a shutout, continued with a three-game sweep of the Stockton Ports, and concluded with the Storm going 5-2 and improving to a .500 record.
The home stand began on a Tuesday night, with Cal Quantrill tossing six shutout innings to pace the pitching efforts. Ty France and Austin Allen each had a pair of RBIs, while third baseman Ruddy Giron had two of the team's seven base hits.
Zech Lemond and Trevor Frank combined to throw three innings of relief, allowing just one Ports hitter to reach base over that span. The 5-0 shutout was a strong momentum builder for what would be a statement home stand for Lake Elsinore.
The following night ended with the Storm's sixth walk-off win of the early season, thanks to the heroics of shortstop Javier Guerra.
Each team broke the run column early, posting two runs apiece through the first frame. Runs would be traded through the sixth, where it remained 4-4 until the eleventh inning.
The Ports would take the lead in the eleventh, which many might have thought would have been enough considering the Storm's sputtering offense to that point.
Comebacks and dramatic wins at The Diamond have been the early theme for the 2017 Storm, however, and this game would be no different.
With a pair of Storm base runners on and one out, Guerra connected for a three-run walk-off home run that got out of the ballpark in a hurry. To be exact, he hit that ball 107-mph off the bat for a home run that traveled an estimated 367-ft.
Guerra ended the night with 5 RBIs, while Michael Gettys hit his third home run of the season and scored three times. France added a pair of singles to the effort.
The brooms would be out Thursday night for the Lake Elsinore sweep, as the Storm beat Stockton 6-3 to improve to .500 for the first time since the beginning of April.
The Storm scored five runs in the first five innings and didn't look back. The Ports put up all three of their runs in the fourth to take a very brief lead, but their offense would stall thanks to solid efforts from Thomas Dorminy and Frank out of the bullpen.
France and Miguel Del Castillo tallied two hits each while collecting doubles, while Carlos Belen went 2-for-4 with an RBI triple. Gettys and Giron each scored twice for Lake Elsinore to help starting pitcher Joey Lucchesi improve to 3-0.
The Storm would welcome the Modesto Nuts to town on Friday night with a 5-1 win in front of over 5,300 fans celebrating Harry Potter Night. A 2-1 lead late would turn into a 5-1 final when the Storm pushed across three runs in the bottom of the eighth to make things a little more comfortable for Colby Blueberg to close the books.
Left-handed pitcher Eric Lauer was outstanding in his start, giving up just one unearned run in five innings while collecting seven strikeouts, lowering his earned run average to 1.89.
The bullpen, once again, did its job, with Wilmer Torres, Lemond, and Blueberg combining for four shutout innings while allowing just a pair of Nuts to reach base.
Josh Naylor made his return from the disabled list and immediately had a strong impact on the offense, going 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored. Edwin Moreno, Gettys, Allen, and Giron each had two base hits. Allen collected his tenth double of the season.
The Nuts would even the series on Saturday in a 2-1 ball game that would only take about two and a half hours.
Chris Huffman suffered the loss for the Storm despite a quality start in which he threw seven innings, allowing two runs on eight hits and a walk. The run support wasn't there on Saturday night, however.
Naylor and Guerra would each tally a pair of hits while Gettys would score Moreno for the only Storm run of the night.
Mother's Day ended in a Storm 7-5 win thanks to timely hitting and costly fielding miscues by the Nuts.
Modesto held a 3-2 lead into the sixth, until the Storm pushed across four runs in the bottom of the frame. Peter Van Gansen got a clutch two-out single to right field to drive in a pair of runs and give the Storm a 5-3 lead. Moreno then hit a shallow fly ball to right, which the right fielder misplayed and a throwing error from the second baseman allowed Moreno to reach second base and Giron third on what should have been the third out.
A wild pitch would score Giron and the Storm would tack on another run in the bottom of the eighth. Three Nuts doubles would put Modesto in a situation to tie the game with two outs and Joey Curletta at the plate, but Frank would get Curletta swinging to seal the victory.
The Nuts would end the series in a 2-2 split, however, taking the final game of the series from the Storm, 4-3.
Early runs made the difference as Modesto forced five walks out of Quantrill in his four innings of work while making him throw 85 pitches.
The Nuts scored a pair in the top of the second before the Storm would immediately tie the game in the bottom half of the inning. That would be all for the Lake Elsinore offense, though, as Modesto would tack on a run in the third and another in the eighth.
Allen connected for a one-out home run over the 36-ft high wall in right field in the bottom of the ninth to spark some hope into the Lake Elsinore faithful. Guerra immediately followed with an infield single that ricocheted off the Nuts pitcher's leg and Giron lined a single to center field. The rally would end there, however, as the Storm would come up just short, but end the seven-game home stand 5-2.
They now head on the road for a three-game series at Rancho Cucamonga before a three-game series at Stockton. The Storm will return to the Diamond for a seven-game home stand against Inland Empire and Visalia beginning May 23.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.