SAN BERNARDINO – It was game 141 in a 140-game season.
So perhaps it was only appropriate that it went beyond the scheduled nine innings.
Bridger Hunt scored on a wild pitch from A.J. Ford in the bottom of the 13th inning and the 66ers pulled out a 7-6 victory over the Quakes in a thrilling one-game playoff at Arrowhead Credit Union Park on Tuesday night.
At four hours, 48 minutes, it was the longest game in terms of time in Quakes history.
It was the South Division’s first one-game playoff at the end of the regular season since 1999. The Sixers advanced to host Game 1 of the best-of-three first round against Lake Elsinore at 7:05 tonight.
The Quakes had defeated the Sixers on Monday in the final scheduled regular-season game to force the one-game playoff after the teams finished with identical 67-73 records during the 140 games. The Sixers, who won the season series 16-12, won six of the last seven games against the Quakes.
With the score tied 6-6 in the 13th, Hunt led off with a walk and Christian Lara delivered his fifth hit of the game, a single to right that sent Hunt to third. Tommy Giles was intentionally walked for the third time of the game. Ford then sent a pitch to Drew Locke into the dirt that appeared to ricochet off of catcher C.J. Bressoud. It bounced high off the net behind the plate and Hunt scored without a play.
The loss meant the Quakes failed to qualify for the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.
Wild doesn’t even begin to describe some of what happened late in the game as the Quakes rallied from a three-run deficit in the ninth inning, and also had two coaches and a player ejected. Not only that, but both teams used all of their bench position players. The Quakes used Anthony Norman and P.J. Phillips as pinch-hitters, Anderson Rosario as a pinch runner and C.J. Bressoud as a defensive replacement. The Sixers used Trayvon Robinson as a pinch runner, Justin Fuller as a pinch runner and Alex Garabedian as a defensive replacement.
It looked like the Sixers were going to win going away, but the Quakes tied it up after trailing 6-2.
It was 6-3 entering the ninth when Jordan Pratt walked pinch-hitters Norman and Phillips. Peter Bourjos singled to right against closer Paul Koss, and the Quakes trailed 6-4. A sacrifice bunt by Abel Nieves moved runners to second and third before Koss intentionally walked Hank Conger to load the bases. Efren Navarro walked to force in a run before Drew Toussaint dumped a single to center to score Bourjos with the tying run.
But Koss battled back and struck out Ryan Mount and Larry Infante to end the threat.
Infante was so incensed after striking out (he was angry over the strike two call) that he threw his helmet and was ejected by home plate umpire Jimmy Volpi. Manager Ever Magallanes came to Infante’s defense and was ejected as well.
The Sixers had a chance in the bottom of the ninth, but Hunt was thrown out at the plate on Lara’s one out single and Locke flew out with the winning run on third base.
The Sixers snapped a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning against Quakes starter Jordan Walden when Lara led off with a double to left-center and Tommy Giles followed with a double into the left-field corner to score Lara and give Giles his 99th RBI of the season.
In the seventh, the Sixers broke the game open against Quakes reliever Brian Rembisz.
With one out, Scott Van Slyke singled and Esteban Lopez walked.
With two outs, Lara tripled into the right-field corner to give the Quakes a 5-2 lead. Giles followed with an infield single that second baseman Ryan Mount barely kept from going into center field. Lara scored on Giles’ 100th RBI, and the Sixers led 6-2.
But the Quakes scored a run in the eighth on a Conger walk, a Navarro single, and a wild pitch to make it 6-3. Jordan Pratt then relieved
The Sixers jumped on Walden early. With two outs, Giles walked and Locke doubled into the left-field corner. Giles easily beat the throw home and Locke advanced to third on the throw.
Austin Gallagher, who hadn’t played since fracturing the tip of his finger August 15, got the start at designated hitter after being activated from the disabled list a couple of days ago.
“He had a much better BP (Tuesday),” Sixers manager John Valentin said.
Gallagher’s first at-bat in more than two weeks was a single to right that scored Locke and gave the Sixers a 2-0 lead.
The Quakes tied the score with a pair of triples.
The first came off the bat of Toussaint with one out in the second inning and Ryan Mount followed with a sacrifice fly. In the fourth, Nieves led off with a triple, and Conger hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-2.
Quakes hitting coach Francisco Matos, coaching first base, was ejected for arguing that Nieves beat the throw to first on a double-play grounder to end the top of the fifth. Had Nieves been ruled safe, the Quakes would’ve taken a 3-2 lead.