LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. — The Storm returned home after a road trip with a game featuring plenty of offense, including three home runs. Lake Elsinore overcame a five-run deficit early but coughed up a pair of runs in the eighth inning to lose the series opener to Modesto 9-7.
Right-hander Ronald Bolaños started for the Storm and looked good early, inducing three ground balls around an opposite-field single. Bolaños, 21, flashed a very good curveball that was 74-77 early with decent command. He was able to throw the pitch for a strike consistently.
“What we have been seeing from [Bolaños] most of the season is avoiding contact. We need him to be more aggressive,” said Storm manager Edwin Rodriguez. “He went out tonight and threw 90 pitches in four innings — that’s way too much. He needs to attack the hitters and be more aggressive. Now, it’s going to kill the bullpen — by the fourth or fifth inning, we have to go to the bullpen.
“He needs to be more aggressive with all of his pitches – fastball and breaking ball.”
Modesto took the lead in the second inning on a two-run homer from outfielder Gareth Morgan off of a 90 MPH fastball from Bolaños that cleared the 342’ sign in right center.
In the second, the Storm inched closer when second baseman Eguy Rosario hit a ball out, just over the 35-foot wall in right field, for his third homer of the year. Rosario, still just 18, struggled in the Midwest League last year, but is carrying an OPS pushing .800 – just over league average production – for the Storm through the season’s first month.
With the Storm trailing in the fourth, third baseman Hudson Potts hit a shot just fair to right that cleared the large wall as well. It was the sixth homer of the year for Potts, who is in the midst of a rough stretch. Potts, 19, came into the game with just two hits and 20 strikeouts in 33 at-bats over his last nine games.
“We had both [Potts and Rosario] out early, around two o’clock and we were working on exactly what they did today. We want them to drive the ball to the opposite field. They were flying open way too soon. We got into the game and they were able the ball.
“Rosario hit a home run to right field but also a double and another line drive to right field, so he put that into play right away.”
Bolaños was chased in the fifth inning after allowing a walk and a single with one out in the fifth. Blake Rogers came into the game and hit a batter, before allowing a bases-clearing triple to Modesto catcher Garrett Kennedy that gave the Nuts a 6-2 lead.
The Storm came back to tie the game with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. After a pair of singles, Buddy Reed smoked a ball to the centerfield gap to tie the game. Reed, who was named California League Player of the month for April, had another multi-hit game, adding a bunt single as well to his ledger.
In the eighth, the Nuts took the lead on a sacrifice fly off Storm reliever Austin Smith. Smith, a second-round pick in 2015, was sitting at 89 mph with his fastball and didn’t look particularly sharp, bouncing a couple of pitches.
The two teams will play Saturday with Michel Baez taking the hill for the Storm.
Notes: Infielder Chris Baker was placed back on the 7-day disabled list, after being hit in the head with an off-speed pitch earlier in the week at Inland Empire. Baker was hit in the head in spring training and missed all of April. According to Edwin Rodriguez, Baker’s trip to the disabled list is more of precaution.
Baker had been activated when Ruddy Giron went on the disabled list with a wrist issue. Giron saw a doctor in San Diego last week. Rodriguez sounded confident that wasn’t serious and the trip to the disabled list was also a precaution. Infielder Deion Tansel, who was acquired in the Ryan Schimpf trade with Tampa Bay has been brought up from extended spring training for the time being.