Lake Elsinore — The Storm headed into their penultimate game hoping to get three innings from lefty Bodi Rascon and then cobble together innings from the bullpen. Instead, the 20-year-old cruised through five innings, three relievers finished out a three-hit shutout of Inland Empire, and the club locked up its first series victory since May.
Rascon, an overslot signee out of high school in 2019, worked 90-92 with his fastball, mixing in an effective slider and a change that could become a very good pitch. The lefty allowed just one hit on the night – a slow chopper near the mound that first-baseman Cole Cummings fielded but had nobody to throw to at first base – and struck out four.
Rascon retired the first six batters in order, but the first hitter in the third inning reached on an error and Rascon then walked 6-foot-8 outfielder Edwin Yon on four straight. After a sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position with one out, Rascon quickly worked out of trouble by getting a lazy pop on the infield and striking out Starlin Gill with a lively 92 mph fastball at the top of the zone.
With Rascon cruising, the Storm offense gave him some support in the fourth inning. With one out, Jarryd Dale singled and stole second before Cummings absolutely demolished a hanging slider for his third homer in 11 games since joining Elsinore. One out later, Jack Stronach doubled and then came around as Gilberto Vizcarra jumped another breaking ball for his second hit of the night.
An inning later, Max Ferguson and Dale drew walks to chase 66’ers starter Braden Olthoff, a Palomar College product with an enthusiastic fan section in the crowd. After Cummings drew a walk from reliever Garrett Lawson to load the bases, Lucas Dunn followed with a drive that hit high off the wall in right-center. The talented utility man just kept running as the ball rolled back into center field, and came all the way around for an inside-the-park grand slam.The Louisville product’s aggressive baserunning has already yielded four triples in 33 games with the Storm.
Staked to a big lead, Luarbert Arias worked two scoreless, ramping up to 94 with his fastball and showing off a sharp slider to strike out five. The 20-year-old righty finishes his first full-season campaign with 44 strikeouts in 25 innings while holding Low-A batters to just a .184 average showing the repertoire to be a high-impact reliever.
The victory was a strong way to head into instructs for Rascon, whose career has gotten off to a slow start. After working just three innings in 2019 and losing the 2020 campaign, Rascon was delayed by an injury near the end of spring training this year. He finally got underway in the desert in June, then joined Elsinore at the end of July. He made one strong start – his only other five-inning appearance – then was one of the players who caught COVID and was on the shelf for three weeks. Clearly depleted from the illness, he’s worked back slowly, showing signs of fatigue when he made two starts in Visalia last week. With a full workload at instructs and an offseason to build up strength, Rascon could be ready to break out a bit in 2022.
Traditionally, young catchers’ production fades as the workload of a full season catches up to them. But Vizcarra is hitting .393/.424/.571 this month even as he’s made all but one start behind the plate. The Mexicali native is punishing breaking balls this month and, with a single and double Saturday, has seven multi-hit games in the last nine games.
The only hotter hitter for the Storm is Cummings, the 23-year-old undrafted free agent who has been powering the middle of the lineup. The homer and walk Saturday, a night after his six game hitting streak ended, pushed the left-handed batting corner infielder’s OPS for the month to 1.131.