By Pete Marshall
LAKE ELSINORE – The Quakes and Lake Elsinore were supposed to play 14 innings today, not on Friday.
They were scheduled to play only nine, but it took 14 rain-soaked innings before pinch hitter Keoni Ruth’s RBI single with one out in the 14th scored the winning run in Lake Elsinore’s 4-3 victory over the Quakes before 2,389 at The Diamond on Friday night.
The Quakes (20-27) had entered the game a game behind first-place Lake Elsinore (22-25), but instead of moving into a tie with the Storm, dropped two games back. It was the longest Quakes game in terms of time (four hours, eight minutes) and innings this season.
The Quakes won the opener of the four-game series on Wednesday, but Thursday’s game was rained out, prompting the pair of seven inning games in today’s (Saturday’s) doubleheader.
Steady rain fell at the outset of the game, and again periodically during the game especially in the sixth and seventh innings. But the game was not delayed.
Javis Diaz started the winning rally with a single leading off the 14th against Felipe Arredondo (1-2). An errant pickoff throw by Arredondo sent Diaz to second before Cedric Hunter flew out.
Eric Sogard was intentionally walked, setting up a double play with catcher Aeden McQueary (.032 batting average this season) scheduled to bat and no other catchers available on the bench except for designated hitter Mitch Canham. But instead, Lake Elsinore manager Carlos Lezcano decided to send up Ruth as a pinch hitter. He delivered a line drive single to left and Lezcano, coaching third, was sending Diaz all the way from second. Quakes left fielder Anthony Norman never fielded the ball cleanly and Diaz scored the winning run without a throw.
The Quakes never trailed in the first nine innings, but couldn’t hold on in regulation for the win.
Norman’s RBI double in the second inning scored Mark Trumbo for a 1-0 Quakes lead.
Brian Walker was thrown out at the plate to end the top of the fourth, trying to score from second on Wil Ortiz’s single to right.
The Storm tied the score in the bottom of the fourth on a run-scoring fielder’s choice by Canham. The Quakes took a 3-1 lead thanks to Abel Nieves’ RBI single in the fifth and Ortiz’s run-scoring triple with two outs in the sixth.
With Lake Elsinore trailing 3-1 in the seventh, Rayner Contreras singled with one out and Jesus Lopez doubled him to third.
Right-hander Marco Albano replaced Quakes starter David Herndon on the mound, and Albano struck out Diaz. Left-hander Barret Browning then came in and surrendered a two-run double off the wall in right field, tying the score 3-3.
Both teams missed opportunities after that.
In the top of the eighth, Trumbo doubled to left with one out, although Quakes manager Ever Magallanes thought Trumbo should’ve been allowed to stay on third when the ball got stuck in the Storm bullpen. After a walk, Storm reliever Rolando Valdez retired the final two batters.
In the top of the ninth, the Quakes had runners on second and third with one out. But R.J. Rodriguez struck out Nieves looking and retired Brian Walker on a fly ball to left to keep the score tied.
The Storm had an even better chance to score in the bottom of the eighth.
Two hits and an error gave them runners on first and third with no outs against Browning.
But Browning struck out Sam Carter and after he walked Jeremy Hunt, Contreras grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.
The Quakes had only two baserunners in extra innings. P.J. Phillips was picked off after doubling with one out in the 10th, and in the 13th, Trumbo led off with a single and was sacrificed to second, but was stranded there.
Until the 14th, the Storm’s best chance to score in extra innings came in the 11th, when they had runners on first and second with no outs against Aaron Cook. But a strikeout (on a bunt), a fielder’s choice and a flyout, ended the threat.
The game included rehabilitation assignments for Lake Elsinore by Padres catcher Michael Barrett and reliever Justin Hampson.
Barrett (strained right elbow) caught the first nine innings and went 2-for-3 with a walk in his first game for the Storm. Hampson retired the Quakes in order in the seventh inning.