While Ayala tore through the Inland Empire lineup over seven scoreless innings, scattering five hits, four different relievers appeared in the eighth inning and surrendered six runs, blowing a five run lead.
Matt Varner lasted one-third of an inning, giving up two hits and plunking a batter. Ryan Klatt gave up two hits without recording any outs, as two runs, one earned, were charged to him. John Thomas recorded an out – a sacrifice fly. Even Neil Jamison wasn’t immune, allowing an unearned run on two hits. It didn’t help that Skip Adams erred – one of four he had on the day with three coming over the final two frames.
Chase Headley and Peter Ciofrone hit solos shots in the fifth and sixth, respectively. It was the first homers of the postseason for each of them and first RBI for Ciofrone who collected 74 in 86 games over the regular season. The Storm would score another run on a wild pitch in the seventh inning to go up 5-0.
Lake Elsinore got on the board first with two runs in the fourth inning. Josh Howard singled in Tim Brown and Yordany Ramirez later followed with a run-scoring single of his own.
Inland Empire would tack on three more runs in the top of the ninth inning off Jamison, two coming after an Adams error. Down 6-0 after seven innings, the 66ers headed into the bottom of the ninth with a 9-6 lead.
After a leadoff single by Headley, Brown lined into a double play and Nick Hundley flied out to end the game and thus end the Storm’s season.
Ayala allowed one earned run over 13.1 innings during the playoffs but ended the postseason with an 0-1 record and a 0.68 ERA. He has whiffed 14 over that time while walking one. It was the ninth time in 14 starts, including the postseason, that Ayala allowed two runs or less. Ironically, he lost four of those games.
Adams’ six errors in the postseason were more than the rest of the team combined. He led the team during the regular season with 29 in 130 games.
Headley had two hits and a walk, the only player to have a multi-hit game.