Storm one game shy of Championship series

Lake Elsinore took a commanding 2-to-1 lead in their best-of-five series with Lancaster on Monday night at the Diamond, winning 9-2.

A bases loaded walk by Sean Kazmar was the lone run for both teams over the first five and a half innings in what was shaping up as another close game.

"They have been battling no matter what the score is," manager Carlos Lezcano said. "They have been playing hard every inning, every out, every at bat."

Three homers and four extra base hits in the bottom of the sixth, however, changed the face of the game – in Lake Elsinore's favor.

Mike Baxter, David Freese and Kyle Blanks went yard, as the Storm batted around in the sixth.

Juan Ciriaco went deep in the next frame and Craig Cooper's double in the eighth set up a sacrifice fly to finish out the scoring.

The club has belted nine homers and is averaging 7.7 runs per game while hitting .302 with a .382 on base percentage. The pitching has posted a 3.97 ERA over the same span. The team also has five sacrifice flies and three sacrifice bunts – winning the productive out battle.

Baxter scored two runs on a 2-for-4 night and added a stolen base. Freese drove in three with his laser and collected two hits. A day before he turns 21, Blanks hit his third homer of the postseason and leads the circuit with eight postseason RBIs.

"We have a great hitting team so I know if I can put myself into position to score – if I can get behind second base I know the guys behind me will do their job," said Baxter.

Ciriaco has two more extra base hits, giving him seven through six playoff games, with a walk and two runs scored. He is tied for the team lead with 11 hits and has posted a 4.64 on base percentage.

Stephen Faris (1-0), meanwhile, twirled six innings of shutout ball, allowing five hits, walking two and striking out a pair. The right-hander has posted a 2.13 ERA over two starts in the postseason, allowing three runs on 10 hits in 12.2 innings.

"I was just trying to keep them off-balance," said Faris. "I threw the changeup for strikes and kept them guessing."

The Storm sit one game away from the California League Championship with a home game on Tuesday and a 2-1 advantage in the series.

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