San Bernardino, CA- The Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino were one strike away from a victory in the top of the ninth on Wednesday and 90 feet away from a comeback against Lake Elsinore but fell short on both accounts in a 6-5 loss to the Storm. The loss evened the three-game series at a game apiece.
After trading leads throughout the night, Inland Empire got a leadoff single in the bottom of the eighth inning against reliever Jake Smith (1-0) from Jared Walsh in a 3-3 game. It was Walsh’s third hit of the game. He was bunted to second and pinch run for by Jordan Serena. With two out in the frame
Keith Greishaber punched a single to short right scoring Serena for a 4-3 lead. In the top of the ninth the Inland Empire reliever Nathan Bates got two quick outs but then River Stevens singled to left. Michael Gettys fell behind Bates (0-4) one ball and two strikes but worked a walk. Austin Allen then singled to right scoring Stevens just ahead of Grieshaber’s strong throw from right to tie the game.
Fernando Perez then lashed a two-run triple to left center giving the Storm (55-61, 20-26) a 6-4 lead. Inland Empire (53-63, 23-23) fought back in the bottom of the ninth as Derek Jenkins reached first on an infield hit and made it all the way to third on a two-base throwing error by pitcher Gerardo Reyes.
Jahmai Jones then tagged a ball off the wall in center to score Jenkins making it 6-5. Jones narrowly missed a game-tying homer instead settling for a double, joining Jenkins in collecting their third hit of the night during the frame. Kyle Survance Jr. then walked but Reyes struck out back-to-back batters. Michael Barash walked to load the bases. Connor Justus then lifted a deep drive to left but it was caught by Stevens giving Reyes his fifth save.
The series concludes Thursday at 7:05 pm. Th contest can be seen and heard live on 66ers.com.