LAKE ELSINORE — The Storm and Rancho Cucamonga Quakes have spent the week trading haymakers, combining to score 94 runs while splitting the first four games of the series. Saturday turned out to be more of the same as the Storm took advantage of nine walks and four Quakes’ errors to cruise to a 15-8 victory on Pride night at The Diamond.
Four different Storm hitters reached safely three times in the game and eight separate players scored at least one run.
After Rancho plated one in the first, the hosts bounced back as Max Ferguson reached on an error, advanced to second on an errant pickoff attempt, then scored on a Cole Cummings single. Justin Farmer followed with a laser beam over the wall in the left field corner for his 10th homer of the year.
“I had a pretty good idea of what they were going to try to throw me,” said the 23-year-old outfielder. “I took the opportunity to set him up a little and hit it out there.”
Farmer later legged out a bases-loaded swinging bunt to the third base side of the mound then drew a fifth-inning walk and easily swiped his 22nd base of the year.
“Coming into the year, the Padres wanted me to slug, and they wanted me to steal bags so to see it’s good to see it on the scoreboard.”
The Florida native has seen most of his action in center and right field this year, but made his 10th start of the season in left Saturday. His positioning paid off for the club in the second as he made a nice running catch deep in the left-center gap with two runners on.
Farmer’s outfield mates for the night also played big roles. Carlos Luis, who had never played on the grass since joining the organization in 2016, filled in right field and collected a pair of RBI singles and a sacrifice fly. The big man also acquitted himself nicely in the field, gunning down a runner trying to go first-to-third on a single to end the third inning.
Max Ferguson, getting his fifth start in center, scored three more runs to extend his league-leading total to 62 in 63 games. After drawing a leadoff walk in the fourth, Ferguson swiped his industry-leading 50th base of the year, then easily came around on a double by Nerwilian Cedeño.
In the sixth, the University of Tennessee product lofted his third homer of the year over the tall wall in right field to cap the game’s scoring.
“We’ve been, as a team, talking about getting on time for heaters, and I just had the opportunity there where I was on time, so was able to turn on it,” said Ferguson, who has been able to continue to add bulk through the course of his first full season of professional ball.
With the offense continuing to produce, starter Ruben Galindo had a rough night, allowing seven runs over 3.1 innings. The 21-year-old made his fifth start of the year as the club has essentially moved to a six-man rotation that will allow them to give each of their starters a week off to manage workload and arm stress in the middle of the season.
With Galindo chased early, Yerry Landinez followed, working with a new slider. After a single to the first batter he faced, the 6-foot-4 righty got out of the frame throwing his fastball at 93-4. He opened the fifth by grooving a full-count fastball that got turned around for a no-doubt homer to right-center.
The 21-year-old from Venezuela responded by ramping up his intensity and velocity, dialing up the fastball to 96-97 over the next two frames on his way to recording five more strikeouts, including three in a 10-pitch sixth inning. While he didn’t have much feel for where the slider was headed, it showed good shape and plenty of late bite. The outing was Landinez’s longest as best in his first season of full-season ball and second since converting to the mound.
Alexuan Vega followed and bounced back from a brutal outing against Rancho on Tuesday by tossing a season-high three scoreless frames and allowing just one runner on a double. The 21-year-old lefty had allowed 19 hits and nine walks in seven innings this month coming into the night.
Notes: James Wood collected two singles and a walk out of the DH spot. Wood, a left-handed hitter, first hit was a line drive hit straight up the middle hit as hard as any ball on the night. … Juan Zabala broke the game open with a two-run triple in the Storm’s five-run sixth inning. The 22-year-old backstop, who opened the year in the Dodgers organization but appeared in just three games, is 5-for-9 with three extra-base hits and seven RBIs in the series against his former system-mates. … Cedeño’s double extended his latest hitting streak to four games. The 20-year-old second baseman has hit in 17 of 23 games since joining the Storm at the end of May.