The Lake Elsinore Storm walked off with a 4-3 victory Wednesday night when an error on a Corey Adamson single by JetHawks left fielder Dan Gulbranson allowed B.J. Guinn to score the winning run. Guinn had just reached base with one out in the ninth on a double, the Storm’s only extra-base hit of the night.
The hit was Adamson’s second on the night, and one of 12 Lake Elsinore singles in the game. Since joining the Storm, the 21-year-old from near Perth, Australia has hit .345/.406/.517 in eight games.
“I’m really just trying to earn my spot on the roster for the next day,” said Adamson. “I’ve been hungry to do something for the team, do something for myself.”
While the winning rally was far too late to get starter James Needy the victory, the big righty from east San Diego county again worked an effective six innings for the Storm. Though he allowed three earned runs on eight singles, few JetHawks hitters made solid contact against him.
“That’s going to be part of his repertoire,” said Storm manager Shawn Wooten after the victory. “With sinkers, you get soft contact. Sometimes, like today, you get a couple hits, but limit your damage by getting a ground ball double-play.”
Needy threw 53 of his 82 pitches for strikes, effectively moving his heavy sinker around in the zone all night.
“Brian Lawrence as a pitching coach has really helped me out, because he was the same kind of pitcher as me.” said Needy. So he was talking about being more smooth and letting the ball work. I felt like early in the season, I was trying to get more behind it instead of just relying on my height and my size to get me through.
Needy had bookend 1-2-3 innings in the first and sixth, but worked with men on through much of the game. From the stretch, his sinker was sitting around 87, picking up a bit more velocity when nobody was on.
Prior to the winning rally, all the Storm runs came across when they strung together five singles to open the second inning. They stalled out after the third run came across though, leaving men at first and second.
The team had a chance to go ahead in the sixth. After Kyle Gaedele opened the frame with one of his two singles on the night, the big outfielder went from first to third easily on a Travis Whitmore flare single to left field. Gaedele read the ball in front of him nicely and never let up, reaching third without a throw.
One out later, B.J. Guinn put down a bunt on a safety squeeze. While Gaedele got a late jump off the bag, he still appeared to easily beat the throw home, but home plate umpire Paul Clemons ruled him out on the play.
News and Notes
The Storm offense took a massive hit on Wednesday when both Travis Jankowski and Jace Peterson went on the disabled list. Both are lost for the remainder of the season.
Peterson, who finished his second full pro campaign with a .303/.382/.454 slash line, has a tendon issue in the arch of his right foot. The injury likely cost the shortstop a shot at going out to Arizona Fall League in the offseason. While he won’t need surgery, he’ll be in a walking boot for four to six weeks.
Jankowski sprained his ankle and is currently on crutches. While the injury isn’t severe, he won’t get back for the Storm’s final 13 games. The fleet center fielder will finish his first full professional campaign with a Cal League high 71 stolen bases – he’s currently 25 ahead of his nearest competitor. The left-handed swinger has reached base at a solid .356 clip, but has struggled mightily to hit the ball for any power. In 556 plate appearances, he has only 26 extra-base hits, good for a .355 slugging percentage.
Gaedele remains a tantalizing package of tools. The sixth-round pick from the Padres’ hugely successful 2011 draft class is a physical specimen, who has 41 extra-base hits in 455 plate appearances this season. Both roving staff and the Elsinore coaches have raved about what he can do when he puts things together for a stretch, as he did in July when he hit .316/.393/.505. He’s had a strange reverse-split this season, managing only a .644 OPS against lefties, but did pick up one single off a left-handed reliever Wednesday night.
Needy has worked a career-high 123 innings, nearly 30 more than he put up last year in his first healthy pro campaign. While his sinker doesn't induce many swings-and-misses (he had just three on Wednesday), he gets a large number of lazy pop ups to go along with solid ground ball numbers. He has worked to reduce his walk rate over the second half of the year, cutting it by nearly 30 percent, but has also seen his strikeout totals drop off precipitously. He'll need to find a better balance there in San Antonio next spring.