With three games to go, the South Division first-half title is the Quakes’ to lose.
Joc Pederson hit a tie-breaking home run leading off the eighth inning to give the Quakes a 3-2 victory over Lancaster on Wednesday night, their ninth in 10 games. The win coupled with High Desert’s 5-4 win over Lake Elsinore, gives the Quakes (36-31) sole possession of first place in the South Division. Lake Elsinore, which had been tied with the Quakes, drops into a second-place tie with High Desert, one game back. Lancaster (34-33), which could have forged a four-way tie for first with a victory, dropped into fourth place, two games back.
Before the game was good news for the Quakes; outfielder Leon Landry became an all-star injury replacement for High Desert’s Julio Morban. Landry is batting .329 with three home runs, 16 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases.
And of course, it was Landry at the plate with the game on the line in the ninth inning: trailing by a run with runners on second and third and two outs. But Landry couldn’t beat out a grounder to second, and the Quakes’ 8-game winning streak ended with a 3-2 loss to Lancaster at the Epicenter.
A the Quakes and 66ers returned home to both begin 6-game homestands on Friday, the California League South Division race couldn’t get much tighter.
But after Friday’s results, it did.
The Quakes won their fifth straight game, beating first-place High Desert 6-1. Meanwhile, the 66ers downed second-place Lancaster 5-4 in 11 innings. In addition, Lake Elsinore, which was tied with Lancaster for second place, defeated Visalia 11-1.
So after Friday, each team in the South Division has eight games remaining, and the standings are: High Desert and Lake Elsinore tied for first with 33-29 records; Lancaster and the Quakes tied for third, with 32-30 records, just one game back. The 66ers (29-33) are in last place, but are only four games out of first. The Sixers may technically be alive, but it would nearly be impossible for them to win the first half, needing to vault over four teams.
If the 66ers went 8-0 the rest of the would have a 37-33 record. Because the Quakes and High Desert play each other 5 more times before the end of the half, one of those two teams will need to have at least 35 wins. And with Lake Elsinore and Lancaster in the mix, everything needs to break right.
Rafael Valenzuela and Ben Orloff, key figures in a 9th inning rally, teamed up again in the 11th as the Lancaster JetHawks completed a comeback in a 4-3 victory over the 66ers on Friday night in Lancaster.
In one of those games that is typical of baseball in Adelanto, the Quakes came from behind then lost a lead before losing 13-12 to the High Desert Mavericks on Saturday night.
The Quakes trailed 4-1, 6-3
There have been several notable roster moves for the Quakes and Sixers in the last few days and perhaps the biggest one came on Thursday to the Sixers’ prior to the Quakes 4-3 win over the Sixers at the Epicenter.
Sixers right-hander Donn Roach, who was off to a 5-0 start in the Cal League and perhaps the hottest pitcher in all of minor league baseball, was traded to the San Diego Padres, along with ex-Quake
Donn Roach (5-0) wasn’t quite his usual dominant self, but got plenty of run support and had his longest outing of the year, 7 2/3 innings and the Sixers (15-12) downed the Quakes (10-17) 11-6 at the Epicenter.
Is it possible for one team to commit 7 errors more than the other team and win. And if so, how?
The answers are yes, and the Sixers are still trying to figure it out.
The Sixers committed a league-high 7 errors, leading to six unearned runs, but rallied for a 7-6 victory over the Quakes before 1,017 at the Epicenter on Tuesday night. The Quakes did not make any errors.
The 66ers and Quakes were at opposite ends of the offensive spectrum on Saturday.
The Sixers (11-12) scored a season-high 12 runs, rallying from a 7-2 deficit by scoring three in the fifth and five in the sixth, winning 12-8 over first-place High Desert (14-8). It was played in front of the largest home crowd of the season at San Manuel Stadium, 5,076.
The Quakes, meanwhile, nearly had a perfect game, then a no-hitter thrown against them. Lake Elsinore pitcher
The Quakes rallied to post a 5-4 win at Lancaster, snapping a three-game losing streak, while the Sixers used another strong start by Donn Roach to beat Lake Elsinore 5-1. That win snapped the Sixers’ four-game losing streak and Lake Elsinore’s seven-game win streak.