“We have work to do,” Storm manager Carlos Lezcano said. “It stresses the importance of the little things when you are not banging the ball all over the field. We need to learn from these four games and keep going.”
“It is my job to get them to relax and get the job done,” Storm hitting coach Shane Spencer said. “After we make mistakes, we need to teach them the game and not just the swing – teach them situations: why they swung at that pitch and why they shouldn’t. What should they look for? I told them I will let them swing it and we will talk about it and learn from it. It will get better.”
Chris Wilkes got a spot start for the Storm on Sunday, coming up from the extended spring in Arizona.
Sean Coughlin took a two-out Wilkes fastball over the monster in right field with a man on to give Visalia a two-run lead in the third.
Wilkes got into more trouble in the fourth, seeing runners on the corners with nobody out. He induced a ground ball to Andy Parrino who came home with the throw to prevent a run but both runners moved into scoring position. Dylan Axelrod promptly replaced Wilkes and induced a shallow fly ball to left and a ground ball to keep Visalia off the scoreboard.
“I think his fastball command was a little off,” Storm pitching coach Dave Rajsich said of Wilkes. “He was able to survive by throwing the changeup when he was behind in the count and throwing it for a strike. He maintained his poise.”
“He got a little tired,” Lezcano said. “It was that one ball that hurt him. Other than that, he did well.”
After a walk and opposite single by Yefri Carvajal, Keoni Ruth squared to bunt and laid a gem just inside the third base line. The throw to first pulled the first baseman off the bag, loading the bases. Felix Carrasco grounded into his second double play of the day, pushing a run across but not generating an RBI.
“They stressed bunting a lot in spring training so that is something we all have been working on,” Ruth said. “I felt confident going out there and executing the bunt.”
Axelrod loaded the bases with one out an inning later. A high pop into shallow right by Ryne White was trapped by Robert Perry, scoring a run. Kyle Greene followed by lining a double off the right field wall to push Visalia ahead 5-1. Beamer Weems prevented even more runs crossing by ranging to his left near the middle of the diamond to snare a grounder, spinning and firing a strike to end the frame with two left in scoring position.
Ruth plated Robert Perry in the sixth with a sharp single, bringing the Storm within three.
The Storm, after a 0-4 start are looking towards their series with High Desert as a chance to redeem themselves.
Since being affiliated with the Padres, Lake Elsinore had never gone 0-4 to open a season.
“We have to think positive,” Ruth said. “We have to forget about this. There were a lot of good things that happened in these last four games so there aren’t just negatives. We have to work on what we struggled with and keep working to get better.”
“It is only four games, we have 136 to go,” Lezcano stressed. “Don’t get down.”
“I have a lot of high expectations for this team,” Ruth added. “This four-game series didn’t show it.”
Talk about this story on our subscriber-only message boards