After a long five-game playoff series, the Lake Elsinore Storm claimed the CAL (California League) South Division Championship and will face off against the winners of the CAL North Division, the Visalia Rawhide.
The Rawhide, Class A Advanced Affiliates of San Diego Padres’ rival, the Arizona Diamondbacks, finished the Single-A Second half with a 39-31 record and took the CAL North Championship from the San Jose Giants in a three-game sweep behind the bat of Geraldo Perdomo, who hit an effective .462 in the series.
Impact Players: Lake Elsinore Storm
The key to Lake Elsinore’s series win against Rancho Cucamonga was the bat of 2B Xavier Edwards, who hit .438 in the series as the Storm’s leadoff hitter, scoring four runs total, and acting as an effective rally-starter when the Storm needed him. Edwards also walked five times in four games, showing fantastic plate discipline, something the Storm will need against a Visalia pitching staff that held their North Division Championship opponents to just 3.3 runs per game.
The other Storm bat to be relied upon is catcher Luis Campusano who hit .353 in the divisional series with two doubles, a triple, and five RBIs. Also a reliable regular season bat, Campusano hit .325 with 15 home runs and 81 RBIs. If Edwards consistently gets on base and Campusano drives him in from the clean-up spot, the rest of the Storm’s offense will gradually fall into place.
If Garrett Richards does not make another rehab assignment start in Game One of the series, the Game One starter will presumably be Reiss Knehr, who started Game Two against Rancho Cucamonga series, eating five innings, only letting two runs score while striking out eight. If his slider is as effective as it was in that start, the defensive side of things for the Storm will be easy to manage.
Finally, Storm closer Mason Fox must bring his three-strikeout ninth inning Game One performance to the table instead of his two-home run blown save Game Three performance. Visalia is playing at a high level right now and ninth inning one or two-run leads will be precious and need to be handled effectively.
Players to Watch: Visalia Rawhide
Justin Vernia will most likely be starting Game One for the Rawhide, and the Storm need to hit him early and hit him often to get him off the mound. This is a dangerous weapon for the Rawhide after he took a perfect game into the sixth inning against the San Jose Giants in Game One of that series, ending up with eight strikeouts in 6.2 IP, only surrendering two hits and a run in a winning effort.
The aforementioned Geraldo Perdomo will be on the Storm’s radar after his .462 average divisional series with four RBIs, and coming in for two runs as the Rawhide’s offense put up 21 runs in three games against the Giants. Knehr and Fox will have their hands full when Perdomo steps up to the plate in this series.
Game One: Visalia Rawhide @ Lake Elsinore Storm | The Diamond | September 10th at 6:00 PM
Game Two: Visalia Rawhide @ Lake Elsinore Storm | The Diamond | September 11th at 6:00 PM
Game Three: Lake Elsinore Storm @ Visalia Rawhide | Recreation Park | September 13th at 7:00 PM
Game Four (if necessary): Lake Elsinore Storm @ Visalia Rawhide | Recreation Park | September 14th at 7:00 PM
Game Four (if necessary): Lake Elsinore Storm @ Visalia Rawhide | Recreation Park | September 15th at 6:00 PM