It was far from a pretty game, but it was a pretty typical California League game.
The 66ers rallied from 2-0 and 5-2 deficits to down the Quakes 6-5 in 11 innings, a sloppy but exciting California League opener before 3,567 at the Epicenter on Thursday.
The Sixers won despite going 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position. They are 3-1 in the last four opening night games, all against the Quakes.
The game started with a great pitchers’ duel. Angels rehabbing
right-hander Jerome Williams (hamstring) pitched five innings, allowing
two runs. But Dodgers’ No. 1 prospect Zach Lee pitched five one-hit,
shutout innings and left with a 2-0 lead.
Travis Witherspoon’s mammoth home run to left got the Sixers’ going in
the sixth and Rolando Gomez added an unearned run later in the inning on
Taylor Lindsey’s grounder to tie the score.
The Quakes retook the lead in the seventh when C.J. Retherford’s chop
single over the glove of third baseman Jimmy Swift scored two runs. They
added another run later in the inning when Austin Gallagher scored
after Sixers catcher Jett Bandy threw the ball away after a wild pitch,
making it 5-2.
The Sixers cut into the game in the eighth, when with two outs and the
bases loaded, second baseman Retherford made a nice play on a Randal
Grichuk grounder. Retherford backhanded the ball but threw wildly to
first, allowing two runs to score.
The Quakes’ defense helped the Sixers tie it in the ninth.
With runners on first and third and one out, Swift hit a grounder that
shortstop Charlie Mirabal made a great play and tried to start a
game-ending double play. But first baseman Gallagher couldn’t handle
Retherford’s throw to first and Andrew Heid tied the score 5-5.
Ryan Chaffee (1-0) got the win with two shutout innings of relief, but had to pitch out of a jam in the 10th.
With runners on second and third and two outs, Chaffee appeared to get
Mirabal on a groundout to first baseman C.J. Cron. But home plate umpire
Eric Gilliam ruled it a foul ball, giving Mirabal new life. But Chaffee
struck him out, sending the game to the 11th.
In the 11th, Jeremy Cruz and Heid hit singles to start the inning
against Juan Rodriguez. After Jose Jimenez bunted the runners along,
Swift was intentionally walk. Witherspoon hit a fielder’s choice
grounder that forced Cruz at the plate, but Gomez walked on five pitches
to score the go-ahead run.
The Quakes tried to rally against Dakota Robinson in the bottom of the
11th. Leon Landry doubled to right with one out, but Robinson struck out
Retherford and Gallagher to end the game.