Storm doubles: digits and off the wall

<b>Lake Elsinore:</b> The Fourth of July weekend kicked off in style for the Lake Elsinore Storm in front of 2,009 in attendance. Playing in their first game since the All-Star break, the Storm used a four run third inning, six doubles, and a solid pitching performance from Clark Girardeau, a recent call-up from Fort Wayne, to win 6-1.

"I just tried to get in front today and keep them off balance," Clark Girardeau said.

Andres Pagan led off the third with an infield single that the shortstop could not pick on a high chopper that took an in-between hop. Casey Baker followed with a flare into left that the fielder dove for but it popped out of his glove, resulting in a single. Ramos followed with a single to right to load the bases.

Luis Cruz then hit a bloop into left that fell in for a single scoring Pagan but C. Baker got thrown out at third thinking the ball would be caught.

The question is why was he not halfway to third on the play? He was instead looking to tag up on a ball to short left field?

"That is a situation where the player has to read that ball," Renteria said. "It is an automatic situation where if there is nobody out the player has to go back and tag. Then when the play starts to develop and you start to recognize where the ball is at you have to start coming off the base and read what is going on. He kind of got in between.

"Hopefully today will give him something to base it on. Now he has an experience to draw upon and it will give him an opportunity to execute that next time it occurs."

"I should have definitely been at third," Baker said. "At first I thought it was going to go a little further so I kind of gave up on the play and went back to tag. Then it died and dropped in. If they caught that I would not have been able to tag and get to third so I should have been halfway.

A ground rule double from McAnulty scored Ramos and forced Cruz back to third as he had visions of scoring all along but the umpire would have none of it. Josh Carter followed with a double that got past the third baseman to score two and make the score 4-1.

"One big inning," Manager Rick Renteria mused. "We got some timely hitting and did some things well out there.

Carter opened the bottom of the sixth with a double. A balk pushed him to third. Kervin Jacobo drove Carter in with a double he roped off the left field scoreboard to make it 5-1.

Carter also doubled in the eighth inning. He only got the opportunity after a pop out was dropped down the right field line. Carter moved to third on a ground out and scored on another error.

Carter went 3-for-4 on the night with three doubles and a strike out.

The lone run against starter Clark Girardeau came after a leadoff walk to Daniel Tosca and Jay Graithwaite hit a ball down the third base line that Kervin Jacobo could not handle that put runners on second and third. Doc Brooks then smoked a single right past Girardeau's left ear for a single to score one. A strike em out throw em out kept the runner at bay on third. The throw from Pagan wasn't perfect but he had plenty of time. Girardeau struck out the next batter to end the threat, stranding a runner at third.

"I was just thinking, 'it's only the second inning and try to keep it under control and try and keep it to minimal damage.' That was a big part of the game," Girardeau said. "The next inning, we put up a four-spot. They really picked me up right there. I gave up one run, and they came and fired up four. You can't ask for more than that."

Clark Girardeau began the seventh by giving up a stand up triple to Jay Garthwaite. Steve Baker dove for a ball in center but was unable to come up with it. The ball went all the way to the wall and Garthwaite could have had an inside the park homer but he was held up by his coach. After a strike out, Girardeau was pulled in favor of Natanael Mateo.

"He got up there (in his pitch count)," Renteria said of Girardeau. "He was on a very short leash there at the end."

"I was able to throw my changeup later in the game," Girardeau said. "I think that helped me get into the seventh inning."

Mateo got the first man he faced to bounce back weakly to him. After checking the runner, Mateo threw him out at first. He followed with a strike out to end the innings without a run coming in.

Girardeau ended the night with ten strike outs in 6.1 innings, allowing one run, unearned. He had a stretch where he retired 12-of-13 and was consistently getting ahead of hitters. His fastball held steady between 88 and 93.

"Our pitching has been outstanding all season," Renteria added.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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