Needing a win in 1 of their last 2 games of the first half to clinch the first-half title, the Quakes came up short in their first chance, losing 9-7 in 11 innings at High Desert on Friday night.
The Quakes lead the Mavericks by 1 game in the South Division first half with 1 to play. Should the Mavericks win on Saturday night in Adelanto, they would tie the Quakes for the first-half title. The teams would then have a 1-game playoff in the next scheduled meeting of the second half. That game is Monday, June 25 at High Desert.
Lancaster and Lake Elsinore are also 1 game back of the Quakes with one to play. But those two teams lose any tiebreaker scenarios and cannot win the first half.
I try not to criticize managerial moves, but I will in this case with Quakes manager Juan Bustabad.
Here’s the situation. The Quakes had 3 bench players in the game. When catcher Chris O’Brien got on base in the 9th while down by a run, it made sense to bring in speedy Casio Grider to pinch-run even though it meant the Quakes would lose their DH (their backup catcher, Michael Pericht, was the DH).
Grider ended up scoring the tying run. Later in the inning, with two outs and nobody on, Bustabad chose to use Bobby Coyle to pinch-hit for Charlie Mirabal. With two outs and nobody on and the game already tied, it was a wasted pinch-hitter. Coyle singled, but was stranded on first when Leon Landry flew out. Coyle is an outfielder, so Alexis Aguilar had to come in to play short.
That left the Quakes with no one on the bench and the pitcher’s spot inserted into the batting order. That meant in the 10th inning, instead of Coyle able to come in to pinch-hit for the pitcher, reliever Scott McGough had to bat with runners on second and third and two outs. McGough grounded out to the pitcher, and a good scoring chance went by the wayside.