LAKE ELSINORE — The Storm used a five-run third inning to jump out to a big lead over Rancho Cucamonga, and then held on for an 8-7 win to claim the series victory. With the victory, Lake Elsinore is 2-1 in the second half and once again holds a lead atop the division after clinching the first half in the series opener.
In the context of the week’s series, a game with both teams held to single-digits in hits, much less runs, almost qualifies as a pitchers’ duel.
Jesus Gonzalez, making his third appearance against the Quakes of the year, gave up six runs over five innings and yielded a pair of loud home runs. While the lefty has a 3.02 ERA against the rest of the league, Rancho hitters have gotten to him for 14 runs in 14.1 innings of work.
After the home team fell behind in the first, they came right back in the bottom of the frame.
Max Ferguon opened the game with his league-leading 61st walk of the season and promptly swiped second with ease for his 51st steal in 55 attempts on the year. With Ferguson on second, James Wood launched his fourth homer deep over the scoreboard in right-center to quickly tie the game.
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Wood didn’t have another hit on the night, grounding out in his next three plate appearances. The big man, who is now using an axe-handle bat to take stress of the wrist that sidelined him twice in the first two months of the year, has maintained his strikeout rate below 20% all year.
After Rancho jumped back out to a 3-2 lead in the second, the Storm sent 10 men to the plate in the third, collecting five doubles and a pair of walks to pull ahead for good. One of the doubles belonged to Justin Farmer, who yanked a breaking ball to left to drive in two runs. The 23-year-old outfielder was the only Storm batter to finish with multiple hits in the game. After reaching base 16 times in the series, he has his on-base percentage up to .362 on the year.
The Quakes trimmed the lead to one in Gonzalez’s final inning, but left the tying run on third. Left-hander Danny Denz, in his first appearance since coming down from Fort Wayne, worked a scoreless seventh though he had to work around a walk and single.
Holding onto a one-run lead in the ninth, big righty Alan Mundo came on in his first save situation in full-season ball. The Mexico native loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a single, then appeared to miss wide on a full-count pitch that would have pushed in the tying run, but was called strike three. He rallied back at that point and finished out the win.
Notes: After Jairo Iriarte got a week off last week, Victor Lizarraga skipped his turn in the rotation as the organization looks to keep young pitchers fresh all year and help them manage work loads. The team will cycle each starter through a “deloading” week before mid-July. … Carlos Luis appeared in right for the second straight day, and battled a fdw fly balls against a high sky. He’ll likely roll back to his work on the corner infield spots this week. … Nerwilian Cedeño doubled to extend his hitting streak to five games. The switch-hitting second baseman also stole his eighth base in 24 games since joining Lake Elsinore.