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  • Writer's pictureHugo Traverso

Lake Elsinore Storm Pitching Holds 66ers To Stay Undefeated

Henry Baez, Jesus Gonzalez and Dylan Nedvded combined to hold a young Inland Empire 66ers lineup to 1 run on 7 hits as the Storm took down the 66ers in San Bernadino on Opening Night at San Manuel Stadium. Graham Pauley lead the Storm on offense, going 3 for 4 with an RBI and a run. Johan Macias went 2 for 3 for the 66ers while teammate Jorge Ruiz went 2 for 4.

Jorge Marcheco started for the 66ers and pitched a great outing, going for 4 innings and only allowing 2 hits and 1 run. Marcheco struck out 6 and walked 3, dominating batters with his great fastball and tough breaking balls. His fastballs had great velocity and blew past Storm batters while his breaking balls got the Lake Elsinore batters looking. Marcheco is a 20 year old prospect for the Angels from Cuba and has a 3.00 ERA in 75 innings as a minor leaguer and has struck out 116 in his career with a 0.93 WHIP. Marcheco was pitching a shutout into the 4th before Graham Pauley hit a triple with one out and 2 batters later, Rosman Verdugo came up. On a 2-1 pitch, Verdugo doubled to Left Field to score Pauley and take a 1-0 lead. Marcheco finished the inning, striking out the side after giving up the run.

In the 5th, Marcheco gave up a leadoff walk to Chase Valentine and Erik Martinez replaced Marcheco. Martinez was making his minor league debut, having been signed by the Angels in February. Martinez was born in West Covina, California, played college ball at UC Berkeley and after college, went to play pro baseball in Mexico. During his time in Mexico, Martinez played for the Toros de Tijuana in a short 2020 season and was picked up in 2021 by the Marachis de Guadalajara, but then was traded back to Tijuana in 2022. Tijuana traded him back to Guadalajara a month after the trade and a month after being traded back, the Marachis released him. The Acereros del Norte picked him up soon after and in early 2023, he retired. A month after he retired, the Angels picked him up and he was now in the LA minor league system. Martinez retired the next 2 batters with Kai Murphy grounding into a double play and Samuel Zavala striking out. In the 6th, Tyler Robertson lead off with a triple to left field and 2 batters later, Graham Pauley hit a single, driving Robertson in and expanding the Storm's lead to 2-0. Martinez recovered, striking out Albert Fabian and picking off Pauley to end the inning.

The 66ers were being held on offense by fantastic Storm pitching with starter Henry Baez pitching a nice 3 innings, holding the 66ers to 1 hit and walked 2 while striking out 3. Baez is a 20 year from Dominican Republic who has a 3.88 ERA in 69.2 IP as a minor leaguer with 81 strikeouts and a 1.33 WHIP. In the 4th inning, he was replced by Jesus Gonzalez, a 21 year old prospect from Venezuela who has been in the Padres minor league system for 4 years. He has a 4.30 ERA in 198.2 innings with 172 strikeouts and a 1.31 WHIP in his minor league career. Gonzalez came in and retired the side in 4 batters, striking out one and giving up a hit to Johan Macias. In the 5th, Gonzalez gave up a leadoff single to Matt Coutney. He then struck out Jose Reyes and retired Nelson Rada on a flyout. Jorge Ruiz then hit a nice single to put a runner in scoring position for Denzer Guzman. The pressure was on for Gonzalez, but it didn't faze him as he struck out Guzman to get out of the jam. In the 6th, Gonzalez retired the side quickly, striking out 2 of the 3 batters he faced which brought on the 7th.

In the 7th, Quinton Martinez relieved Erik Martinez on the mound for the 66ers and started strong with 2 quick outs, but then Chase Valentine hit an infield single and got to second on an error by the 3rd baseman Ben Gobbel who threw the ball away after messing up the transition. Kai Murphy came up and hit a nice single to Right Field which allowed Valentine to score and stretch the lead to 3-0. Samuel Zavala came up and hit a drive that bounced off the wall in Right Field and Murphy put on the jets to try to make it home and blow the game open on a 2 out rally. Jorge Ruiz wasn't going to let that happen and he threw a dot to 2nd Baseman Johan Macias who threw a laser home, to get Murphy out on an incredible sequence of throws and end the inning. Gonzalez came on in the bottom of the 7th and after giving up a leadoff double to Ronaldo Flores, he got two groundouts and struck out Nelson Rada to keep Flores stranded and get out of the inning.

After 2 quick outs in the top of the 8th, Graham Pauley singled to give the Storm a chance to expand their lead with 2 outs. Albert Fabian came up and hit a single that hit off the glove of Nelson Rada and allowed Pauley to go to third. The 66ers then went to the bullpen with runners on the corners and brought in Jared Southard who struck out Rosman Verdugo to get out of the jam. In the bottom of the 8th, Gonzalez struck out Jorge Ruiz to bring up Denzer Guzman. Guzman hit a high flyball that bounced in front of Kai Murphy's dive and hit off the wall. By the time Murphy had thrown it in, Guzman had rounded second, and beat the throw to third to pick up his first triple of the season and give the 66ers a chance to get on the board. Jadiel Sanchez came in and grounded out to third, but Guzman put on the jets and scored to bring the game within 2 with 4 outs left for the IE. Dylan Nedved came in for the Storm and gave up a single to Johan Macias, but kept his cool and retired Ben Gobbel to end the inning.

In the 9th, Southard walked Anthony Villar and Chase Valentine to start the inning. Kai Murphy then put down a nice sacrifice bunt to move the runners over. Southard threw a wild pitch which allowed Villar to score from 3rd and Valentine to move over. Tyler Robertson came up and hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Valentine to crack the game open. Griffin Doersching then flew out and Southard got out of the inning. In the 9th, Ronaldo Flores walked to open the inning, but that was the only runner fans would see for the rest of the game as Nedved struck out the side to end the game and claim his first save.

Jesus Gonzalez threw 4.2 innings, struck out 7, allowed 5 hits and only 1 run on his journey to his first win of the new season. Jorge Macheco threw a fantastic 4 innings, striking out 6, walking 3 and only allowing 2 hits and one run on his journey to a tough loss. Dylan Nedved threw 1.1 scoreless innings, striking out 3, allowing 1 walk and 1 hit on his journey to his first save of his minor league career. The Storm pitching staff totaled 13 strikeouts, 7 hits allowed, 1 run allowed and 3 walks allowed in 9 innings. The 66ers staff totalled 10 strikeouts, 9 hits allowed, 5 runs allowed and 6 walks allowed in 9 innings. The Storm had 5 runs on 9 hits with no errors and 7 runners left on base. The 66ers had 1 run on 7 hits with 1 error and 9 runners left on base. The Strom were 3 for 8 with runners in scoring positiom while the 66ers were 0 for 6. The defending California League Champs Storm went to 4-0 while the 66ers dropped to 1-3. The time of the game was 2 hours and 38 minutes and 3,896 people were in attendance, better than 2 of the 3 Oakland A's home games in their 3 game series against the Cleveland Guardians earlier this month. Crazy!

UPDATE: On the 12th, the Storm beat the 66ers 7-4. On the 13th, the game was postponed to Sunday due to rain and last night, the Storm won 3-1 to stay a perfect 6-0. The 66ers are now 1-5.

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