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Lake Elsinore Storm Playoff Recap 

 storm_baseballSingle A Lake Elsinore, who had their ups and downs during the regular season offensively, came on strong in the playoffs. Their first series was against division rivals (and identical record) Inland Empire and won the series two out of three games.

Their second series was versus Rancho Cucamonga, who had the best record in the division and finished eleven games over the Storm, and they won three of four. That put them in the championship series against the Stockton Ports and they won three of the four games to clinch the Cal league championship. There were many stellar performances that carried them through the eleven playoff games (winning eight) but none was more impressive than first baseman Nate Freiman. He was named series MVP with a .529 average, scoring  four runs, hitting two homeruns and driving in five runs in the four games.

He was also named to the season All-Star team.  His total playoff numbers were just as impressive, getting a .386 average with ten runs scored with two doubles, four homeruns and twelve runs driven in for the eleven games. He was joined by several other great performances, including DH Tommy Medica (.333 average, 11 runs, 5 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI), Jonathon Galvez (.305 average, 4 R, 3 2B, HR, 6 RBI) and late season returnee Edinson Rincon, who came off the DL on September 1st to play in four regular season games, and  had a .324 average with 3 runs, 3 2B and 5 RBI.

Prospects Reymond Fuentes and Jeudy Valdez struggled during the playoffs, each hitting slightly over .200 with ten or greater strikeouts for the three series.

The pitching really came through for the Storm down the stretch and held up well during the playoffs. The starting pitching was particularly strong and the second half performance of Nick Schmidt really contributed to the success of the Storm for the season, stabilizing the staff with his veteran presence.

At 25 years old it is hard to consider him a high level prospect but his injury history blunts the talent assessment for the first round pick of 2007. He pitched in three games with 21 innings pitched allowing ten hits, four earned runs, twenty five strikeouts for a 2-0 record and 1.29 ERA.
Andrew Werner pitched in three games, 18 innings pitched, 15 hits, 7 runs/ 3 earned runs and a 2.50 ERA with a 0-2 record.

Jose DePaula pitched in two games, 13 IP, 8 hits, no runs and 8 SO for a 0.00 ERA and a 2-0 record.

Nick Sullivan started two games and 11 IP, with 13 hits and 4 earned runs for a 3.27 ERA and 2-0 record.

The relievers that were primarily relied on through the post-season were Jeff Ibarra, Matt Lollis, Hayden Beard and closer Jason Ray.

Ibarra pitched 5.2 innings and finished with a 1.59 ERA, Lollis pitched in 5.1 innings ( 3 hits, 1 run) with a 3.00 ERA, Beard with 3 IP with two hits and two runs and Ray with 7 IP, allowing 7 hits and winning two games for a 1.29 ERA.

Of note, Rymer Liriano was brought up to Lake Elsinore for the playoffs and got seven plate appearances with two base on balls and two strikeouts. He started the season in Lake Elsinore, after a strong spring training, but was demoted after being totally overwhelmed at this level.

The bulk of this team will be in San Antonio next year to try to continue the Missions championship performance. The strength of the performances this season, and a somewhat surprising playoff run, bode well for the quality of play for San Antonio next year. Most agree that this is the biggest step up in minor league ball and will show which of these players will step forward as legitimate prospects in the system.

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