Lake Elsinore explodes to tie up series

Lake Elsinore and Lancaster are tied up at 1-1 after Lake Elsinore split the road portion, heading back to the Diamond, the Storm's home turf. Seth Johnston clubbed a three-run homer and Brandon Higelin recorded another big out.

Lake Elsinore won 14-9 over Lancaster (series tied 1-1, best of five)

Down 6-0 in the fourth, pitching coach Steve Webber was tossed when the batter called time halfway through the windup of a Richie Daigle pitch and was granted it. Webber did not take to kindly with the pitcher already in the process of delivering to the plate.

"When Webber got thrown out it gave us the jolt that we needed," reliever Brandon Higelin said. "We were down 6-0 at the time. It lit a fire under us."

In the following frame, Craig Cooper was tossed after grounding out to first on a close play that would have made the score 6-5 if he had been called safe – and many believed he should have been.

The Storm would score four runs in the fifth and plated nine in the sixth, sending 12 men to the plate.

Seth Johnston hit a two-run homer on a 1-1 slider to tie the game at seven and Kyle Blanks capped the inning with a three-run bomb.

"The guy came in and we had faced him before – he is kind of a sidearm guy," Johnston began. "We knew he had a fastball with good movement. He actually threw me a fastball I should have hit but I swung through it. I knew he had a slider too and he threw the slider and I hit it pretty well."

Blanks, Johnston, and Juan Ciriaco are tied for the California League playoff lead with six RBIs with Johnston adding a sacrifice fly in the eighth for the final run of the game. Blanks has two homers to lead the circuit, as does his seven runs scored.

"A quality out," Johnston said. "It was nice to get the insurance run."

With two outs in the eighth and two men on, Higelin got the final out, preventing Lancaster from closing the gap. It was the second time during the playoffs that he has held two inherited runners from scoring.

"It is good to come on with runners on base and the key there is not to let those guys score," said Higelin. "The first pitcher did his job and the last thing I want to do is give up their runs.

"I have had a chance to pitch in the playoffs in big situations and it is nice to get out there and getting that strike one first and then getting them to chase something out of the zone."

Five players collected multi-hit games and five different players scored multiple runs. Johnston and Blanks drove in three apiece and Josh Alley scored twice and knocked in two. Alley leads all Cal League playoff participants with 10 hits.

Corey Kluber made his California League debut, giving up six runs on five hits and three walks over 2.1 innings.

"The momentum is on our side," Higelin said. "We played well against these guys all year and the confidence level is huge going home where we have played so well this year."

"We get to go home now and we are actually feeling pretty good," Johnston said. "There were a couple of things people may not have seen – with our pitching coach, Webber, getting fired up. It was kind of an emotional game for us. For us to come back being down 6-0 like we did – yea, we feel pretty good."

MadFriars Top Stories