Last night the Angels MiLB team, the Inland Empire 66ers, hosted the Lake Elsinore Storm, affiliate of the San Diego Padres, for a night of wrestling themed baseball. It was a special night for the fans with post game wrestling matches hosted by EWF Pro Wrestling, and the night became even more special with the 66ers laying the smack down on the Storm for their league leading 14th shutout of the season in a 6-0 win.
The 66ers wasted no time in taking the visiting Lake Elsinore Storm to the ropes, immediately choking them out for 3 runs to start off the home frame in the 1st. On the mound starting for the 66ers was Angels newest top prospect Patrick Sandoval, who started the game with brutal 1-2 combo on the Storm before flooring them with a fly out to end the first. The offense took the game over immediately as we saw seven total 66ers come up to the plate in an inning that effectively put the game away at the outset.
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Included in that offense was the rehabbing big league catcher Rene Rivera, who took a walk in the first inning that included a double by Brandon Marsh, an RBI single by Connor Justus, an RBI double by David MacKinnon and a Sac Fly by Jonah Todd. Also included in the offense was Richie Fecteaus 4th inning 2 RBI double as well as Jonah Todds 5th inning RBI single.
Patrick Sandoval kept the opposing offense locked in a tight submission as he allowed no runs and only 2 hits across 4.2 frames before tagging out for reliever Nate Bertness. It was very intriguing watching the Angels current big league catcher Rene Rivera catch for the Angels future starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval in a night that promised great thing from the Angels future. It was even better to see Rivera healthy again, the catcher commenting on his health in a post-game interview. “I feel good, better than what we expected. My knee is getting better, getting ready for the full game. Body wise I feel good.
Rivera had nothing but great things to say about the young LHP Sandoval; “He pitched great, really great game. He’s a kid that’s got the stuff to pitch in the big leagues.”
Patrick Sandoval had his best outing as a 66er with 7 strikeouts and no walks while allowing just two hits. His pitches looked sharper than ever, his fastball reaching speeds of 95 MPH with a sharp punch Sandoval kept hitters wildly uncomfortable, at times swinging at air as Sandovals off-speed dipped and dove around their flailing bats. Every start is an encouraging start for Sandoval, but last night was a performance Sandoval has been looking for from himself since joining the team.
Patrick Sandoval [Favorite Wrestler: The Rock]
H.H: The 66ers came out strong with three runs in the first. How did you feel pitching with that immediate lead?
Sandoval: It’s awesome to get run support. Just gotta go up there and put up zeros right after that, and that’s what we did.
H.H: What was it like throwing to Angels big league catcher Rene Rivera?
Sandoval: It was unreal. I don’t think I’ve ever thrown to a big leaguer before. I can obviously see why he’s a big leaguer. He’s up there keeping me calm, he’s calling all the right pitches, framing all the right pitches. It was pretty easy to pitch with him behind the plate.
H.H: This was your first game with the 66ers in which you allowed no walks. How locked in were you on the mound?
Sandoval: It’s definitely what I’ve been looking for lately. As soon as I got out on the field I felt pretty good. Playing catch in the bullpen before the game was really good. I just carried that out on the field and didn’t make too many mistakes out there.
Game Score: 6-0, 66ers
Rene Rivera caught for seven innings before being lifted after taking a walk in the 7th, his replacement being 66ers catcher Franklin Navarro. Rivera looked great in the game, collecting a hit with two walks; though he wasn’t tested too much behind the plate he looked strong and called a great game throughout his start.
The offensive star of the night was first baseman David MacKinnon and his two hits, which included his RBI double in the first alongside a walk, a run scored on two total hits. David MacKinnon has been on a monstrous tear in August, in 10 games so far he’s collected 14 hits while slugging at a .900+ pace in the early month. After the game we caught up with MacKinnon for some reflections on his recent offensive explosion.
David MacKinnon [Favorite Wrestler: John Cena]
H.H: This game extends your RBI streak to 5 games, which includes two home runs. What have you been working on to bring this streak?
Mackinnon: I don’t really focus too much on guys in scoring position or anything like that. It’s more of “if there’s a guy on third base with less than 2 outs I gotta get him in”, that’s my job. Whether I ground out, fly out, hit a single or a double, or a homer. I’m trying to hit my pitch in my zone, and then with two strikes just trying to put the ball in play somewhere and make myself a hard out.
I’m just trying to do as much as I can with the ball that they give me. You can’t really do much else, you can’t create anything. Do damage to pitches that you can do damage with and fight off the ones you can’t.
H.H: Today you had 2 hits including a double, with an RBI, a run, and a walk. How locked in were you feeling at the plate?
Mackinnon: I was feeling pretty good. I didn’t really get too many pitches to do any sort of damage with or lift the ball today, I made good swings on relatively pitcher pitches. I got lucky, got a couple of hits with it. And if they’re going to give you walks you take your walks too.
After Sandoval passed the torch to Bertness in the 5th the submission hold only got tighter and tighter as Bertness tied his career high in K’s with 8 strikeouts across 3.1 innings while giving up only 2 hits. Dayan Diaz finished the night with a clean 9th frame that sent the fans home happy. Well, not home, since the 66ers hosted some incredible wrestling matches from EWF pro wrestling post game. But it did get the fans extra riled up for some A+ wrestling
The 66ers did not disappoint in setting up a wonderful night for the fans, both on and off the field. It was great watching Rene Rivera catching again, it was great experiencing the various wrestling themed events which culminated in an epic title fight featuring the face of the company, “Uptown” Andy Brown. All in all, it was truly something watching the young stars of the Angels future shine bright on this particularly fun Friday night.
Baseball and wrestling. It doesn’t get any better than that