Runs in three consecutive innings and a no-hit effort from Bryce Morrow spurred the Storm to a 6-5/10-inning victory Thursday night over the Inland Empire 66ers. Hunter Renfroe delivered the decisive blow with his eighth home run of the season.
Inland Empire got to starter Matt Shepherd early, plating a pair in the bottom of the first. Down 2-0, Lake Elsinore answered with a run in the top of the second. Gabriel Quintana struck a two out double to left, and Duanel Jones followed with an RBI single to cut the 66er’s lead in half.
More trouble in the third. IE went single/double/triple to extend their advantage to a game-high three, but the Storm would respond with two of their own in the top of the fourth. Renfroe doubled and Diego Goris went yard in the next at-bat to bring the Storm within one.
Morrow’s best performance of the season started in the fifth. Shepherd retired the first two batters but proceeded to load the bases, bringing the hard-throwing righty in from the bullpen. The Caledonia, MI product pitched out of the jam and went on to retire the next nine batters he faced over three perfect innings.
Goris came up big again in the eighth with a two out double. An IE error allowed him to advance to third on the same play, and Quintana brought him home with his second hit of the game.
Trevor Gott (W, 2-2) was called upon in the ninth to close the game, but the Lexington, KY native was tagged with the tying run and his second blown save after retiring the first two batters of the inning. Despite the score, Gott escaped the inning unscathed, leaving two IE runners on base.
For the second time in the series, the game went to extra innings. Tuesday’s meeting went twelve, but tonight’s match-up didn’t go beyond the tenth. Renfroe crushed the go-ahead homer in the top half of the inning, and Ben Paullus struck out the final two batters of the game to secure the win and a sweep of the 66ers.
The victory puts Lake Elsinore (24-17) back into a share of first place, sitting atop the South Division standings alongside the Lancaster JetHawks. It’s the first sweep of a California League foe since the end of April, when the Storm won four straight against the Visalia Rawhide.
Renfroe, Goris and Quintana were a combined 6 for 14 with three doubles, two home runs, four RBIs and five runs scored. Morrow struck out five and hung zeroes through 3.1 innings of work.
The Storm will look to keep their momentum rolling into tomorrow night’s game, as the Modesto Nuts visit The Diamond for the second time this season. Bryan Rodriguez (0-3, 3.00 ERA) will oppose Devin Burke (1-1, 5.09 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm on Superhero Night, day one of this weekend’s GEEKend.