Storm improve to League-Best with Win – Mallex Smith and Zach Eflin lead Lake Elsinore to series victory

The Lake Elsinore Storm grabbed a share of the California League’s best record for the first time this season, as the Eyes defeated the Bakersfield Blaze 9-1 at Sam Lynn Ballpark.

Lake Elsinore got on the board early and never looked back. Mallex Smith led off the game with a bunt single, advancing to third after Benji Gonzalez doubled. Diego Goris plated both runners with a two-bagger of his own, and Alberth Martinez brought Goris home with a sacrifice fly two batters later.

Storm starter Zach Eflin (W, 9-5) continued his streak of effective starts. The 6’4″ right-hander tossed six innings, allowing just one run while scattering seven hits.

Single runs in the fourth and fifth built Lake Elsinore’s lead. Jeremy Baltz doubled and later scored on a passed ball in the fourth, while Smith knocked his second home run with the Storm in the fifth to put Lake Elsinore up 5-0.

After the Blaze found their way to the scoreboard in the fifth, the Storm bullpen delivered another stout performance. Joe Church struck out three over two innings of shutout relief, and Tyron Guerrero worked a scoreless frame.

A four-run Storm ninth put the game well out of reach. Jeremy Rodriguez walked with one out, and the next three hitters singled to score a pair of runs. Gabriel Quintana and Baltz delivered RBI base hits later in the inning to make it 9-1.

Guerrero capped the night by striking out the side in the home half of the inning.

Smith was a perfect five for five, pacing a Storm offense that tallied 15 hits. Gonzalez and Goris had three hits apiece, with the latter leading the way with four runs batted in. Eflin notched his team-high ninth win of 2014.

With the win, Lake Elsinore (57-40) secured the series win with their second consecutive defeat of Bakersfield (57-50). The Storm join the Blaze as the two teams with the best record in the California League.

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