The Lake Elsinore Storm continued their dominance of the Inland Empire 66ers on Thursday, defeating their I-15 rivals 9-3 in front of a crowd of over 7,200 to complete the three-game sweep.
Inland Empire scored an early run off of Storm starter Coby Cowgill (W, 2-1), but Lake Elsinore answered with two of their own in the bottom of the first. Mallex Smith led off with a walk, and Benji Gonzalez followed with a two-run home run that gave the Storm a 2-1 lead. The blast was his first at The Diamond and second this season.
After three scoreless innings, the 66ers tied the game in the top of the fifth after Mark Shannon went deep off of Cowgill. But tenacity has been a theme for the Eyes this season, and they answered in a big way in the home half of the frame. Corey Adamson singled to start the inning, and Smith advanced him to third with a base hit of his own. Smith proceeded to swipe second, one of his three steals on the night, to put two men in scoring position. Gonzalez continued his hot hitting with an RBI single to score Adamson, and Diego Goris got in on the action with an RBI knock that put Lake Elsinore up by two. Dane Phillips plated the final run of the inning with another single, and the Storm jumped out to a 5-2 advantage.
The sixth inning would mirror the fifth, as Inland Empire scored once in the top half and Lake Elsinore responded with three runs. Two of those runs scored courtesy of two 66ers errors, and the third came across after Luis Domormo hit an RBI double that gave the Eyes an 8-3 lead.
Goris added an insurance run with a moon shot to left in the eighth, and Tyron Guerrero finished the 66ers in the ninth to secure the 9-3 win.
Eight of the nine Storm starters recorded a hit, four of whom had multi-hit efforts. Gonzalez led the way, going two for four with three RBI, and Goris extended his hitting streak to a team-high eleven games.
Lake Elsinore (49-35) is now 15-4 against Inland Empire (26-58), and has swept them twice in six series. These two teams will meet six more times in 2014. The Storm improved their winning streak to five-straight games.
The Storm travel to Adelanto today for the first of four games with the High Desert Mavericks. Joe Ross (8-4, 3.78 ERA) gets the ball for Lake Elsinore while David Holman (1-1, 3.97 ERA) will go for the Mavericks. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm.