LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. — Luis Patiño, coming off arguably his worst career start last time out, dispelled any concern Padres fans may have had by delivering a strong outing Thursday night.
The 19-year-old pitched five solid innings but the Storm bats were quiet as Lake Elsinore lost to the Lancaster JetHawks Thursday night at the Diamond. The loss dropped the Storm to 10-11 on the young season.
The evening got off to an ominous start for Patiño, as he allowed a mammoth two-run homer off of the bat of Lancaster right fielder Ramon Marcelino that cleared the 36-foot wall in right field with ease. The blast gave Lancaster a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Patiño bounced back in the second inning, inducing three consecutive groundouts. Gabriel Arias, making his first start of the year at third base, helped with a sliding snare and throw. He then notched his first strikeout in the third, getting ahead with a fastball clocked at 95 mph and finishing off the at-bat with a slider just off of the plate.
Patiño turned in his best work in the fourth, striking out the side while pitching around a one-out double. His fastball showed good run in to righties and his offspeed pitches showed excellent depth and kept hitters off balance. Patiño left after five and ultimately took the loss, but kept the Storm in the bounce-back game.
“[The difference was that] he pitched,” said Storm manager Tony Tarasco. “He pitched more to contact — he was able to get outs with swings, as opposed to feeling like he needed to strike everybody out.”
“I felt like the difference was that I had more confidence today,” Patiño said after his start. “I felt like I had more energy and I tried to take my time.”
The Storm had their best opportunity to break through offensively in the fifth inning. Arias followed singles by Robbie Podorsky and Olivier Basabe by reaching on an error to load the bases with two outs. Storm catcher Luis Campusano, the team’s best performer so far, grounded out to second to end the threat. Storm hitters went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position for the night.
Campusano had a pair of singles in four trips and contributed on the defensive end by blocking several balls in the dirt and throwing out a pair of runners on the basepaths.
“I’m very impressed with [Campusano’s] improvements this year,” said Tarasco. “He’s taken a ton of pride in not only making his mechanics correct behind the plate, but his game-calling is a focus and his relationships with his pitchers have become way more important.”
The Storm plated their only run in the ninth inning on a solo home run from Taylor Kohlwey, who has started the last three games at first. Kohlwey hit a long single earlier in the game that bounced off of the giant wall in right.
“Kohlwey is a very talented ballplayer. He may not wow you, as far as tools are concerned but he’s one of those guys that once you get him in your lineup, you don’t want to take him out,” said Tarasco. “He’s a great teammate, he knows the game well, has a good feel for the game and by giving him the option of playing first base on such a talented team, it’s just finding a way to give him more playing time.”
The Storm will be in action Friday at home against Inland Empire with Ronald Bolaños scheduled to start.