Insurance runs prove key to Storm win

Kyle Blanks

Lake Elsinore, CA-- Batting around in the fourth cured Lake Elsinore's early woes of leaving runners stranded. Two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth proved necessary as Rancho Cucamonga scored two in the ninth to make the score 7-6.

Nic Crosta plated a run in the bottom of the eighth – his eighth RBI – on his fourth hit of the season. His single brought in Matt Antonelli who led off the frame with a single and swiped second. A Kyle Blanks double brought in pinch-runner Chad Huffman from first to push Lake Elsinore ahead 7-4 – two crucial runs.

"That last inning proved the part with us," said Blanks. "Everyone did their part. Crosta came up with a big two out hit and I came up and did the same thing. That is the kind of games we need right there.

Hainley Statia had something to say in the ninth – fighting off a tough John Madden slider to cut a single to left that brought home two runs and made the score 7-6. Statia was 4-for-5 in the game.

The Storm put three runners on in the first inning – a double play wiping out much of that rally – and had runners on second and third in the third inning with no outs but two strikeouts and a ground out eliminated that scoring opportunity.

Blanks was the first to poke through, taking a 1-1 hanging curveball in the bottom of the fourth and hitting a no doubter over the left field wall for his second homer of the year. After a walk, Matt Bush lined a ball down the left field line that Drew Toussaint dove for but came up short as the ball dribbled past, giving Bush a triple and an RBI.

"Two strikes and I got a good pitch to hit," Bush explained. "Luckily the outfielder was playing deep and he dived and didn't get it. Little things like that will help you get it going."

Yordany Ramirez followed with a real triple – of the stand up variety, lacing a liner into left-center to expand the lead to 3-0 and chasing starter Anthony Ortega.

Timmy Mattison came on in relief and walked Mike Baxter before tossing a wild pitch to bring home Ramirez – it would be the last run of the inning, as the Storm batted around but left two runners on base.

A Bush error in the top of the fifth led to three Rancho Cucamonga runs. With two outs, a Toussaint grounder went through Bush's legs to extend the inning.

"Especially during the game, it is really hard," Bush said of coming back and making the next play. "It takes one or two more plays to capitalize off that one bad one. You have to hang in there. Keep your head up and know you can make the play and good things will happen."

Josh Leblanc followed with an infield single and after a wild pitch, Brad Coon and Hainley Statia collected back-to-back doubles to cut the deficit to 4-3.

"I think the worst thing I did was going 2-0 to Coon when I had first and third and he knew a fastball was coming and I let it up," Storm starter Matt Buschmann explained. "Other than that, I will take some good things from it. I threw my changeup more than I had in the past, and I felt confident with it."

Nate Sutton gave one back in the bottom half – a bases loaded fielding error led to a run to give Storm a two-run cushion.

Drew Toussaint's first hit of the year, a double off the right field wall, scored Dallas Morris to bring the yo-yo back to a one-run lead.

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