Storm Notebook: Tough sledding vs. Colon

Rancho Cucamonga, CA-- The seventh Lake Elsinore Storm season as the Padres affiliate opened, perhaps ironically, against Rancho Cucamonga – the Angels affiliate. Lake Elsinore spent the previous seven years as an affiliate of the same team they played Thursday night.

  • It was April 5, 2001 when Sterling Hitchcock took the hill on a rehab assignment and led the Storm to a 9-2 victory. The 92 victories they assembled that season is still a franchise-high.

    The last Opening Day win came in 2004 at Inland Empire when Luis Cruz scored on a balk in a 1-0 game. It is the third 1-0 game in the seven seasons they have been affiliated with San Diego.

  • Nic Crosta was using the Epicenter as a launching pad during batting practice. He hit three homers in a row at one point and went on to hit five in roughly 15 at bats.

    He alternated sides, pulling one and then shooting the next the opposite way before come back to right field. It was a terrific display but Crosta was still upset over the few pitches he banged into the netting above him.

    His mantra, of course, is to cut down on the pop flies and use the ground when he is able – but he wasn't sacrificing any power in BP.

    Crosta had two at bats versus Colon – reaching on a two-base error in the first inning and flying out to right in the fourth. He would end the night going 0-for-4, making the final out of the game.

  • With Bartolo Colon on the mound tonight, and Jered Weaver to follow on Friday, and many Storm prospects skipping a level, there was some thought about the confidence being fragile at this stage of the year.

    Not so says manager Carlos Lezcano. With two major leaguers, this is a chance for their confidence to shine.

    "I got them pumped up – they are ready for this," Carlos Lezcano said of facing Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim starter Bartolo Colon before the game. "They will be a little excited in the first at bat. After that they will settle down and we are looking forward to it. Two very good pitchers – one is a former Cy Young award winner and the other one the first nine games he pitched. We know we are facing some good pitchers but that is good for them. They are excited. They have to throw the ball over the plate still."

    David Freese got on the board first with a high chopper to Nate Sutton who could not get the ball cleanly out of his glove – an infield single. It would have been a close call if he made the play, but Freese was awarded with the first Storm hit of the year and ended up with two of the Storm's three hits.

    "There were signs. We had guys squaring balls up but they weren't falling," said Freese.

    With the bases loaded in the first inning, Kyle Blanks lined a shot into left field but Jordan Renz tracked it down with a terrific catch ranging towards the line.

    "The right-fielder saved the game for them in the first inning," manager Carlos Lezcano said.

    Confidence – what could have been – Colon pounded out through the next three innings with ease, retiring the final ten batters he faced.

    "All week we talked about how we were facing Colon and Weaver so we were ready for them," said Freese. "It was fun. It is good to face those guys and see what it hopefully will be like. It was a good chance for us to do it. It is unfortunate that we couldn't get some balls to fall and pick up the win."

  • Nate Sutton led off the fourth inning with a triple off Manny Ayala and came around on a Jordan Renz sacrifice fly to right-center for the first and only run of the game.

    "1-0 game, ball down the line – that is the difference," Lezcano said.

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