Quakes keep lead at 2 in dramatic fashion

After beating the Mavericks 4-1, the 66ers were 3 outs away from closing to within one game of the Quakes for the final playoff spot.

But the Quakes rallied for five runs in the ninth inning and Jeremy Moore’s walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth gave the Quakes an 8-7 victory over Stockton.f

There are nine games remaining for both teams. On Saturday, the Quakes will face Rancho Cucamonga HS alumnus Scott Hodsdon, starting for Stockton.

It’s official: Quakes, 66ers, and Lancaster vying for 1 playoff spot

It’s been a foregone conclusion basically since the first half, but Lake Elsinore’s win on Thursday clinched a playoff spot for the Storm.

The Storm (68-62 overall) lead the Quakes by 11 games with 10 to play for the second-best overall record in the division, guaranteeing a playoff spot.

The Quakes (57-73) lost to Stockton 9-7 on Thursday and still lead the 66ers (55-75) by two games for the South Division’s final playoff spot. Lancaster (53-77) is four games back. The Sixers lost to the Mavericks 8-1 on Thursday.

66ers, Quakes not playing at playoff level

The Quakes held on to beat the 66ers 7-6 on Wednesday night at the Epicenter, extending their lead for the South Division’s final playoff spot to two games over the Sixers with 11 games remaining.

The Quakes barely held on to early 5-0 and 6-1 leads, because the offense pretty much shut down after scoring six runs in the first two innings and sending 16 batters to the plate. In the final six innings, the Quakes had one hit, two walks, and scored one unearned run. With the bases loaded and one out iun the second inning and a chance to knock Sixers starter Tim Sexton from the game, Jeremy Moore and Clay Fuller took called third strikes.

How did the Sixers get back in it? Steve Caseres crushed two home runs, a two-run shot and a three-run shot. But they had some head scratching moments too.

1) They made four errors, including two by normally sure-handed shortstop Justin Fuller, leading to four unearned runs.

2) In the second inning with Quakes starter Mike Kenney having already walked three batters in the inning, including two back-to-back, Christian Lara swung at the first pitch he saw. He ended up striking out. It was eerily similar in the fourth, when Kenney had walked two, including the previous batter, but Lara swung again at the first pitch and eventually struck out. He was pinch hit for in his next scheduled plate appearance.

3) Then came the baserunning gaffe to end the game. With one out in the ninth, Andres Perez walked, bringing up Preston Mattingly, with two-homer Steven Caseres on deck. Mattingly hit a deep, but routine fly ball to center fielder P.J. Phillips. Perez inexplicably not only tagged up, but tried to go to second only to be thrown out, and Caseres never got a chance.

There are signs both managers are managing differently: to win rather than to develop.

1) After Christian Lara looked bad in back-to-back at-bats, manager Carlos Subero had Johan Garcia pinch-hit for him. It was only the seventh pinch-hit at-bat by the Sixers all year, in 129 games.

2) Instead of going with embattled closer Ismael Carmona (0-8, 6.21 ERA, 6 blown saves in 26 chances) to close out the game in the ninth, Quakes manager Keith Johnson went with the much more effective Michael Kohn. Kohn lowered his ERA to a miniscule 1.07 with a shutout ninth, but earned only his second save in three chances.

Managers are managing to win, we’ll see if players play to win. It will be an interesting final 11 games regardless.

66ers beat Quakes, within 1 game for playoff spot

The pitching matchup looked to favor the Quakes on Tuesday in the second game of a three-game series with the 66ers.

Quakes starter Jeremy Thorne entered the game with a 4-7 record and a 4.60 ERA, but the Sixers were reduced to a “bullpen” game with left-hander Miguel Sanfler making his first start of the season.

Sanfler could only go two innings, but the rest of the staff filled in admirably and the Sixers defeated the Quakes 6-3 before an announced crowd of 2,214 at the Epicenter Tuesday.

The win improved the Sixers to 55-73 overall, 23-35 in the second half, just one game behind the Quakes (56-72, 26-32). Lancaster (53-75, 27-31) remained three games back of the Quakes.

Sanfler was picked up by David Pfeiffer, Jake McCarter (3-3), Eric Krebs, Brian Akin (although he didn’t retire any of the 2 batters he faced) and Marcel Prado (6th save), who combined to allow only two hits in the final seven innings.

The Quakes had only four hits, but drew 10 walks and left a season-high 14 runners on base (previous high was 12).

Meanwhile, the Sixers cracked 15 hits, including massive solo home runs by Andres Perez (to center, breaking a 3-3 tie in the sixth) and Alex Garabedian (in the eighth).

Perez drove in three runs, while Justin Fuller was 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI in his new leadoff spot for the Sixers.

The Sixers, who had lost seven in a row entering the week, have won the first two of the three-game series. The Quakes have lost a season-high six straight games.

NorCal seniors vying for World Series title Saturday

It wasn’t as big as the West/Northwest regionals in San Bernardino in the Major Division, but the Senior Division West Regional played in Ontario and Upland a couple of weeks ago may have produced a World Series Champion.

The winner of that regional was the NorCal team from Niles-Centerville Little League of Fremont.

That NorCal team is one win away from winning a World Series Title. NorCal went 4-0 in pool play, then defeated the Latin American champions from Aruba 7-6 in the semifinals Friday in Bangor, Maine.

They’ll play West University Little League of Houston Texas for the World Series title Saturday at noon Pacific Time.

NorCal downs SoCal for Senior Division West Regional title

It wasn’t what I expected, to say the least.

It’s not that I didn’t think NorCal champ Niles-Centerville Little League of Fremont could beat SoCal champ Corona National, because I knew it would be a good game and that NorCal had a shot.

But the fact that NorCal won by a 2-1 score at Jay Littleton Ballpark in Ontario was surprising. SoCal entered the game averaging 13 runs per game in going 5-0 before the finals and hadn’t scored fewer than nine runs in any game. NorCal averaged 12 runs per game and hadn’t scored fewer than seven in any game.

But Jack Veronin, who ptiched in NorCal’s thrilling 11-10, 10-inning win over Hawaii to end pool play on Saturday, and then closed the victory over Canyon Hills in the semifinals Monday, hadn’t thrown too many pitches in either game and was eligible to pitch Tuesday.

 Veronin pitched a four-hitter, striking out five. After not playing for them last year, he said he came back to play for Niles-Centerville, “for one last time.” He’s already turned 17 and won’t be eligible for the Senior Division next year.

All of the players on Niles-Centerville attend Washington High School in Fremont, some playing on the JV and some on the varsity. The varsity, which included outfielder Cody Lebon, catcher Casey Jennings and shortstop Billy Nevin from the West champions, went just 7-18. Veronin said he was on the varsity this year, but isn’t listed on the roster or in the statistics online. Veronin is listed on the 2008 roster for Washington.

“I think it definitely helps,” NorCal manager Perry Romero said of having all the players from the same high school. “We’ve got about four or five from the varsity and six or seven from the JV  team. They know each other. Last year I had guys from five different high schools.”

Now it’s on to the World Series in Bangor, Maine. Last year, the West Regional was in Ontario as well as Pearl City, Hawaii took home the crown. Pearl City went 2-2 in Pool Play at the World Series and didn’t advance to the semifinals.

Pearl City lost to the South champion 2-1 and to the Canada champion 5-2 in failing to reach the semis.

NorCal will have a similar road. Their pool includes the champions from the Southeast, Asia Pacific, Canada, and the host team.

This year’s Asia Pacific team is the same one from the Philippines that went 0-4 last year. It would seem that NorCal would be favorites over the host LIttle League from Bangor. If they win those two games, it would seem the Canada and Southeast games would be the key ones for the semifinals.

Although the West Regional wasn’t deep, with four teams head and shoulders above the rest of the teams (especially SoCal, Hawaii and NorCal), they played well in close games, so you’d have to figure NorCal has as good a chance as anyone at the World Series. Good luck to them.

Mavericks spoil Torii fun for Quakes, 66ers snap skid

Angels outfielder Torii Hunter played for the Quakes on Tuesday, and the Quakes held the lead, until the ninth inning.

Ysmael Carmona (0-7) gave up a two-run home run to Alex Liddi in the ninth inning (his 23rd of the season and second of the game) as High Desert downed the Quakes 5-4 at the Epicenter to maintain their hold on first place in the South Division.

The 66ers, who had lost eight in a row, still didn’t get much offense, but got enough to end the streak and beat host Modesto 3-2.

Mario Alvarez (4-4) allowed two runs in seven innings for the victory. Jake McCarter pitched the  final 1 2/3 innings for his sixth save. Scott Van Slyke drove in two runs and newcomer Andres Perez had three hits and the other RBI.

66ers lose 8th straight

The Sixers knew it would be tough without highly touted third baseman Pedro Baez, who is down with an injury and with Steven Johnson promoted, then traded, and a pitching staff that is in disarray.

But this is ridiculous. The Sixers lost their season-high eighth straight game on Monday, losing to Modesto 3-1 at John Thurman Field. The Sixers (50-65 overall, 18-27 second half) dropped 2 1/2 games behind the idle Quakes (52-62, 22-22) in the race for the South Division’s final playoff spot. The Sixers have scored three runs or less in seven games during the losing streak and only scored four in the other game.

Sixers starter Justin Miller (0-2) pitched much better than in his first start with the team, allowing only one earned run on five hits in five innings. Only one of Modesto’s three runs was earned, thanks to errors by shortstop Christian Lara and second baseman Elian Herrera.

Modesto starter Christian Friedrich (3-0), who has now allowed only one earned run in his last five Cal League starts, allowed one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings this time. Modesto all-star closer Craig Baker struck out all three batters in the ninth, earning his league-leading 30th save.

Making his 66ers debut Monday was 25-year-old Andres Perez, apparently signed by the Dodgers from Newark of the independent Atlantic League. Perez, who can play the infield and the outfield, was batting .306 with 17 home runs and 54 RBIs with Newark. Perez played 2008 with the Yankees’ high Single-A Tampa team, batting .269 with eight home runs and 44 RBIs in 86 games. He had one of the Sixers’ four hits on Monday and added a stolen base.

Quakes extend playoff lead with win, 66ers lose

Quakes 9, San Jose 2

Alberto Rosario had a two-run single and Abel Nieves had a two-run triple in a six-run sixth inning as the Quakes routed the Giants at the Epicenter on Saturday. Rosario had two hits and three RBIs, while Nieves was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Clay Fuller was 2-for-4 with three runs scored.

Jeremy Thorne (3-6) earned the win, allowing seven hits, four walks and two runs in seven innings while striking out three. Reliever Michael Kohn pitched the ninth for the Quakes. Kohn had not pitched for six days because of soreness.

 The victory moved the Quakes two games ahead of the Sixers in the battle for the final playoff spot.

Several reports have also indicated that Angels outfielder Torii Hunter could be joining the Quakes next week on a rehabiliation assignment. The Quakes are home through Aug. 16, with an off-day Monday.

Stockton 8, 66ers 3

Thomas Melgarejo (1-2) allowed five runs in the first three innings and the Sixers never recovered in a loss at Banner Island Ballpark.

Frank Martinez hit two home runs and drove in three runs and Yusuf Carter hit a two-run homer for Stockton.

Trayvon Robinson had two hits and scored two runs and Joe Becker had two hits and two RBI to pace the attack for the Sixers, who have lost six straight games.


Quakes’ rally comes up short, 66ers lose

The Quakes’ 1-game lead over the 66es for the South Division’s final playoff spot remained at one game after both teams lost series openers on Friday against North Division foes.

The Quakes fell 10-8 to North Division leader San Jose at the Epicenter, but didn’t go down without a fight.

Trailing 10-3, the Quakes rallied for a run in the seventh, two in the eighth and two more in the ninth. They got an RBI double from Carlos Colmenares and an RBI single from Jay Brossman in the ninth, and hat the tying runs on base before Rafael Cova came in to replace Wilimin Rodriguez on the mound for San Jose. Cova struck out Phillips to earn his first save.

The outcome might have been different if a close call in the eighth had gone their way. With one out, Clay Fuller doubled home Efren Navarro, but to make it 10-6, but P.J. Phillips was thrown out at the plate. Manager Keith Johnson argued that Phillips got his hand in under the tag from catcher Aaron Lowenstein (and it appeared he might’ve been right), but plate umpire Tim Eastman disagreed. Had Phillips been ruled safe, it would’ve been 10-7 with only one out and another runner in scoring position.

Johnson, who was hit in the head by a line drive while coaching third in Thursday’s game, returned to action Friday. He coached third at the beginning of Friday’s game, then watched the final few innings from the dugout.

The loss snapped  the season-high four-game winning streak for the Quakes (51-61 overall, 21-21 second half).

Meanwhile, in the opener of a six-game trip to Stockton and Modesto, the Sixers (50-62, 18-24) fell 6-3 at Stockton (50-62, 25-17).

Steven Caseres was 2-for-3 with two runs and a double for the Sixers. Starter Josh Wall (2-6) allowed six runs (four earned) on eight hits in five innings. Stockton led 6-1 after five innings.