LAKE ELSINORE — The first four Visalia Rawhide batters scored before Lake Elsinore recorded an out, and the Rawhide sent 13 batters to the plate as they built an insurmountable 8-0 lead. Storm starter Wilton Castillo could not make it out of the first inning.

Nik McClaughry got the start at shortstop and his first professional hits against the Rawhide. (Photo: Robert Escalante)

Down 9-0 after the second inning, the Storm did slowly chip away over the final seven frames to make a game out of it before losing 10-7.

“It wasn’t any surprise to me; we have been doing this all year,” said Storm manager Pete Zamora. “We’ve had a lot of games like that, and whenever the pitching isn’t there, we’ve come back or come close.

“We play until the 27th out; we just came up short tonight.”

Castillo, the 6-foot-7 Cuban righthander, opened the year in the complex league before joining the Storm last month. The 23-year-old had the worst outing of his season, giving up eight runs in two-thirds of an inning, including a towering home run to right-center.

Castillo has shown flashes since joining the organization in 2020, but opponents at two levels this year have collected 45 hits – including five home runs – in 27 innings. He’s posted a 24:13 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

“Wilton will have to learn from this outing and then forget it,” said Zamora. “We will go in tomorrow and look at the video and see where he needs to get better, and once we figure that out, he needs to forget about this and go get the next one.

Samuel Zavala in the batting cage before Saturday’s game. (Photo: Robert Escalante)

The Storm’s offense did show up, powered by Samuel Zavala. The 18-year-old delivered a pair of doubles, two walks, and a towering home run to right field in the ninth to cap the scoring. Zavala ranks fifth in the Cal League with 13 home runs, seventh in doubles with 21, sixth in OPS at .878, and leads the league in walks with 84.

“It’s just the same old Sammy,” smiled Zamora. “He understands the importance of getting on base, and he gets on first base. If you hang it, he will punish you.”

Another key contributor was shortstop Nik McClaughry. The Padres’ tenth-round draft pick from the University of Arizona came into the night hitless in his first 27 professional plate appearances, but singled in his first at-bat, got a sacrifice fly for his first professional RBI, and doubled in a run in his third plate appearance for his first extra-base hit.

McClaughry, 23, ended his day 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs. This year for the Wildcats, he hit .325/.429/.467 and was the Pac-12’s defensive player of the year.

Homer Bush, Jr. had another strong performance, with two hits and two RBI. He has reached base in each of his first five Cal League games.

Posted by John Conniff

John grew up in Poway and has written for MadFriars since 2004. He has written articles for Baseball America, FoxSports San Diego, the El Paso Times, San Antonio Express-News, Amarillo Globe-News, Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette and Pacific Daily News in addition to appearing on numerous radio programs and podcasts. He can also break down the best places to eat for all five of the affiliates. There is no best place to eat in Peoria, Arizona.

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