In all three post-season performances this year the Lake Elsinore Storm combined for at least 9 runs and 12 base hits. Their offense was peaking at the ideal moment and their bats were as hot as a Lake Elsinore July. So, one win away from grabbing their 4th championship in
In all three post-season performances this year the Lake Elsinore Storm combined for at least 9 runs and 12 base hits. Their offense was peaking at the ideal moment and their bats were as hot as a Lake Elsinore July. So, one win away from grabbing their 4th championship in team history, how else could this team win but with an elite pitching performance from two of their best pitchers on the roster?
In a 3-2 victory at Chukchansi Park in Fresno, Victor Lizarraga and Duncan Snider covered 9 complete innings while striking out 7 batters and allowing only 5 hits against the best offense in the entire California League. Lizarraga, the 7th ranked prospect in the San Diego Padres organization, would finish his first post-season of his career by covering 12 innings, striking out 13 batters and allowing just 4 earned runs across 2 games of work. Meanwhile, Snider, a free agent signing by the San Diego Padres this year, would be assigned with holding a 1-run lead with 2.2 innings remaining.
He would not only successfully complete tonight's game but he would pitch 7.1 innings of playoff baseball while only giving up one earned run and striking out 10 batters.
Although the score was meager, the tension was anything but. After the first two batters (Jakob Marsee and Jackson Merrill) of the game reached base, the next three batters would leave them stranded in place. The Padres top prospect, Jackson Merrill, would go 11-17 in the post-season while hitting 4 doubles and driving home 7 runs.
In the 2nd inning, the first two batters would once again reach base after a Juan Zabala walk and Albert Fabian double. This time, the Storm would not allow for their efforts to go unrewarded. Tyler Robertson would bring Zabala home on a soft sacrifice fly to right field and Jakob Marsee would hit a line drive into right to bring home Fabian.
After seeing the minimum through 2 innings of work, Lizarraga would load the bases on a single, walk, and a hit batter with one out. He would extinguish the flame before allowing it to spread but forcing Benny Montgomery into a double play. Only 21 combined batters would enter the batter's box over the next three innings for either Championship team.
In the 7th, Marsee would once again bring home Fabian, a late-season returner following Samuel Zavala's injury in game one of the playoffs. This would elevate the Storm's lead to three runs and what crucial insurance that would prove to be. In the bottom of the 7th inning, Lizarraga would once again bound to the bump, looking to complete 7 innings of work. His first batter would single to right field while his second would pop out to Nerwilian Cedeño. Sterlin Thompson would finally break the ice and end Lizarraga's night with a home run to center field, reducing the Storm's lead to a singular run.
Duncan Snider would come in for relief, forcing the first batter into a groundout and the second to strike out swinging. In the following inning, the Storm offense would offer no additional assistance, however, Snider would strike out 2 of his next 3 batters in a 1-2-3 8th inning.
In the bottom of the 9th, Snider would be asked to finish the game and keep the Grizzlies off the scoreboard. The start was anything but inspiring as Jordan Beck singled up the gut to put the tying run at first and the winning run at the plate. After a groundout that was nearly a double play and an error, the Storm got the lead runner out. After a 6-pitch walk, the room for error was shrinking by the pitch. In 3 pitches, the Grizzlies' lone source of offense would hit into a forceout, putting the tying run on third.
Two pitches later, Braxton Fulford would fly out to center field and make the 2022 Lake Elsinore Storm champions. In an incredible 9 straight victories to end their season, the Storm played four playoff games and won every single one of them. Their win gives Lake Elsinore their fourth championship in team history and third as a San Diego Padres affiliate.
After falling just short in the 2019 Championship Series, having their 2020 season lost to time, and a disappointing 2021, the 2022 Storm were lifted to immortality behind the Padres' top prospect and a recently downsized farm system. Proving once more that the best thing about a farm is its ability to regrow.
-Written by Justin Jett