Reliever Matt Branham turned into a starting pitcher for the Storm to begin the second half of the season. His last outing on July 12, was his worst start going five innings allowing six runs on eight hits in his first loss of the season.
Branham bounced back from that performance to lead the Storm to a 5-0 shutout win against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes Tuesday night, going six innings, allowing no runs, three hits and striking out a season high 10 batters.
The Storm scored two runs to start the game, giving Branham wiggle room when stepping on the mound.
Donovan Tate hit his first triple in a Storm uniform on a deep fly ball to right field. He then scored off an infield single to short by Justin Miller.
Miller has scored 44 runs for the Storm behind Chris Bisson and Rico Noel in almost half the amount of games.
The second run of the inning came in the form of a steal by Miller to reach second base, then being driven in by a single off the bat off Tommy Medica for the Storm to take a 2-0 lead.
In the third, it was the Miller- Medica combo again that added to the lead. Miller walked and was able to advance to third of back-to-back wild pitches by Rancho starter JonMichael Redding. Medica lifted a sacrifice fly to center to score Miller for the third run of the game for the Storm.
Medica went 2 for 3 on the night and is maintaining a .372 batting average in 54 games for the Storm.
The top of the fourth would be enough scoring for the Storm to capture the victory.
Eddy Rodriguez reached base on a throwing error by shortstop Casio Grider and stole his second base of the season to reach scoring position.
Connor Powers walked and with two outs and two on, Noel singled to center field scoring both for a 5-0 lead for the visitors.
Pitchers Greg Gonzalez, Yefri Carvajal and Kevin Quackenbush each pitched an inning of relief and combined to strike out four, giving the pitching staff tonight a total of 14 strikeouts.
The Storm is now 18-8 in the second half and is two games up on the High Desert Mavericks for the lead in the south division.
The Storm returns to the Epicenter for an early game beginning at 10:35 a.m. against the Quakes.
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*Contributed by the Lake Elsinore Storm