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Lake Elsinore Storm Still Suffering At The Plate

Starting pitchers aren’t receiving enough run support, while the bullpen and defense struggled this past week.

The good news for the Lake Elsinore Storm was they put together their first winning streak of the season last week: Sunday’s 4-0 win over Stockton and Tuesday’s 8-3 victory over the High Desert Mavericks.

The bad news is that as the advanced single-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, Lake Elsinore (12-25) is still stuck in last place in the California League, having won only one out of four games in their series with High Desert and suffering through a three-game losing streak.

The Storm also lost their first two out of a three-game series at the Lancaster JetHawks. Lake Elsinore opened the road series on Saturday with a 5-1 defeat.

Lake Elsinore is in a May swoon, with a (3-11 or 4-10) record so far this month.

In the two-game winning streak, Jedd Gyorko, Edinson Rincon and Nate Freiman each combined for eight hits, five runs, two home runs and six runs batted in.

In Tuesday’s game, Storm starter Jose De Paula picked up his second win of the season, going five innings, allowing three runs on four hits with three strikeouts. Reliever Pedro Hernandez pitched the sixth and seventh innings, while Erik Hamren came in to finish the game, picking up his first save of the season, allowing no hits and striking out four.  

Going into Sunday’s game, Lake Elsinore has scored 182 runs on the season, the fewest in the Cal League. But the Storm's pitching staff has allowed the fewest walks at 98, the third-fewest earned runs at 165 and had the fourth-best earned-run average at 4.70. Only San Jose had a team ERA of less than 4.00 (3.30).

And this week is looking up. Lake Elsinore played a rare day game at today in Lancaster to finish the series with a 12-1 win.

At 7:05 p.m. Tuesday at The Diamond, they kick off a four-game series against the Inland Empire 66ers, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ single-A affiliate, as part of a seven-game home stand, with Lancaster coming to town Saturday.

Here's last week's recap:

Sunday

Sunday’s game was a blowout loss, 14-6.

Lake Elsinore started out right, taking a 4-0 lead in the first, and it held a 6-3 lead in the top of the fourth. Reymond Fuentes led the game off with a single, then he stole second and advanced to third on the same play. Jeudy Valdez singled on a pop-up that was not caught by second baseman Jose Thompson, and Fuentes scored. Gyorko walked, then Valdez stole third and Gyorko went to second on an error at third. Valdez scored on a sacrifice fly hit by Rincon. Gyorko later stole third, then he scored on a wild pitch. Jason Hagerty doubled, then he scored on a single hit by Jonathan Galvez.

But things fell apart with Storm pitcher Jose De Paula (2-3, 7.47 ERA), as the team allowed nine runs in the bottom of the inning for a 12-6 deficit that was too much to recover from. Jose Altuve hit a three-run homer, followed by a homer by Kody Hinze, both against De Paula. Rene Garcia and Jordan Comadena both followed with two-run singles. De Paula allowed eight runs on 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Saturday

Lake Elsinore score its only run late, in the ninth inning. Nathan Freiman homered over the left-field fence, his sixth of the season.

Chris Fetter (1-4) allowed three runs on seven hits in five innings and he struck out three.

Lancaster scored two in the fourth inning and two in the sixth. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth, Ben Heath drove in a run on a fielder’s choice, then Grant Hogue drove in another run on a sacrifice fly to center. In the sixth, Jonathan Meyer doubled home Erik Castro, who earlier reached on a fielding error by left fielder Dean Anna. Hogue doubled in another run.

Wednesday

Lake Elsinore’s losing streak began with a 13-7 loss to High Desert in Adelanto. The score was tied at 3 in the fifth inning, before the Mavericks blew the game open, scoring five runs in the bottom of that inning.

High Desert’s Denny Almonte hit an RBI double to right field, and Hayden Beard provided little relief of starter Mike Watt. Mario Martinez singled, Trevor Coleman knocked in two more with another double. Right fielder Daniel Meeley found second baseman Galvez on the relay throw, who was able to nail down Mario Martinez on a throw to home. Gabriel Noriega drove in a run with a single, then Daniel Carroll plated a run on an error by Meeley.

High Desert scored three more runs in the sixth for an 11-3 lead and took 13-4 lead into the ninth, before Lake Elsinore scored three in the ninth to show some fight. Valdez doubled in a run; Gyorko doubled in two more.

In the top of the first, Lake Elsinore took a 2-0 lead. Dean Anna walked, then advanced to second base on a passed ball. Valdez singled Anna to third, then Gyorko drove in a run with a single. A double-steal advanced Valdez to third and Gyorko to second. Rincon hit a sacrifice fly that scored Valdez.

Gyorko went 3-for-5 with three RBI.

Watt (0-5) struggled mightily, allowing six runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings, three walks and two home runs allowed.

Thursday

Thursday was another loss, 8-5 to High Desert. Starter Jerry Sullivan allowed three runs on seven hits while he struck out four.

The story in this game was the implosion of the bullpen, as it blew a 5-3 lead, allowing five runs in just two innings. Dustin Pease (0-1) blew his first save, allowing four runs on five hits. Pease’s earned-run average spiked from 2.89 to 4.26.

Pease hit Nick Franklin with a pitch, then he allowed a two-run home run to Vincent Catricala that tied the score.

Dennis Raben followed with a single, then Pease committed an uncommon feat in baseball – he allowed a pair of two-run homers in the same inning. Mario Martinez hit another two-run shot to right, for the 7-5 High Desert lead.

Lake Elsinore scored two runs in the top of the seventh to turn a 3-3 tie into a nice lead. Meeley led the inning off with a single, then Rico Noel bunted his way on after an error allowed him on. Meeley was picked off at second, but Anna was hit by a pitch, then a double steal put runners on at second and third with one out. Valdez singled Noel home, then an error on a pickoff attempt allowed Anna to score.

Friday

Another close game went the Mavericks’ way, in Friday’s 6-5 loss.

Again, Pease took the loss, but this time he wasn’t solely to blame. With one out, Mario Martinez singled, then the critical play came, as third baseman Rincon made a throwing error that allowed Martinez to run to third. Gabriel Noriega hit a walk-off single to center.

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