A crowd of 3,022 was on hand to witness the opening game of the series between Lancaster and Lake Elsinore, a best of five. Lancaster ended up walking 12 batters and the Storm scored their six runs on just five hits, despite batting through the order twice.
“It was just enough,” manager Rick Renteria said.
Chris Kolkhorst led off the game with a walk, Skip Adams reached on an error and Michael Johnson drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases. Colt Morton followed with a double into left-center to knock in two and give the Storm the lead. Juan Ciriaco then reached on an error, knocking in Johnson.
“After they walked Michael Johnson I said, ‘they have to come to me here,’” Morton explained. “I was waiting on a fastball and got one to hit.”
Phil Avlas hit a two-out, two-run homer in the top of the second following a Danny Richar walk off of Storm starter Cesar Carrillo, the only runs he would allow.
“I was just trying to go after them and see what happened,” said Carrillo. “Every time I go out I try to pitch like it is the seventh game of the World Series. Going to Miami helped me out a lot, going to the College World Series and the experience with 25,000 people there.”
Morton padded the lead with a solo homer to left field to open the bottom of the third.
“It felt good,” Morton said of his night. “A changeup – I think he tried to take something off it – down and in.”
A walk, wild pitch, and infield single put runners on the corners with no one out following the Morton homer. They would get a sacrifice fly from Brett Dowdy to drive in Fernando Valenzuela Jr. The Storm chased Ryan Schreppel from the game with two outs in the third when they loaded the bases again. Reliever Sam Smith then walked in a run on four pitches, bringing Ciriaco home.
Schreppel ended his night with six runs allowed, four earned, on three hits and six walks in 2.2 innings.
Two walks opened up the fourth and Brett Bonvechio walked to load the bases for the third time in four innings. The Storm, however, could not capitalize.
Carrillo struck out the side in the first and fourth innings and was pulled after five, with two runs allowed, both earned, on six hits and two walks while striking out nine.
“It was pretty cool,” Carrillo said of striking out the side twice.
The Storm ended up striking out 15 batters on the night with Ryan Klatt also whiffing the side in the seventh.
A two-out triple by Richar was followed by an infield single to score a run in the bottom of the eighth of Brad Blackwell. Ryan Trytten replaced him and promptly served up another triple to Neb Brown. Steve Garrabrants then singled to right to bring Lancaster within one. Leo Rosales was brought on to close the game out with two outs in the eighth, inducing a ground out to end the eighth in a 6-5 game.
“When I make changes like that, it is not because I don’t think they can do the job but I am trying to change the momentum,” Renteria explained of his quick hook of Blackwell and Trytten.
Rosales ended up retiring the side in the ninth to preserve the lead.
“We have all the faith in the world in him,” Bonvechio said of Rosales.