Sixers, Quakes back in action tonight

The Inland Empire 66ers and Rancho Cucamona Quakes both return from an off day in pursuit of a California League playoff berth and will start a head-to-head three-game set at 7:05 tonight at San Manuel Stadium.

The Sixers (58-50 overall, 21-17 second half) finished second to Lancaster in the first half and are second in the second, two games behind that same opponent. They are in good position to make the postseason as a wild card if they don’t win the half at 4 1/2 games better than Seattle affiliate High Desert and eight better than the Quakes for the second playoff spot.

If Lancaster, a Houston Astros affiliate, wins the second half too, the two teams with the next best records would advance.

The Quakes (50-58, 19-19) have been a much better team in the second half and come into the set having won seven straight series. They are four games behind Lancaster for the half and 3 1/2 behind High Desert for the second wild card, assuming Lancaster wins the second half.

The Sixers are led by reigning Cal League Player of the Week Zach Borenstein while outfielder Scott Schebler has spearheaded the Quakes resurgence.

Carlos Frias (2-3, 4.11) is the scheduled starter for the Quakes while the Sixers counter with All-Star Mark Sappington(10-4, 3.42).


Mark Lowe recalls 2006 66ers season

Mark Lowe, now a reliever for the Angels, was back in San Manuel Stadium (back then Arrowhead Credit Union Park) on Tuesday for the first time since he was with the 66ers for the first two months of the 2006 season. Back then, Lowe was with the 66ers when they were a Seattle Mariners affiliate. On Tuesday, he was with the 66ers as part of a rehabilitation assignment as he recovers from a stiff neck.

That was the last 66er team to win a California League championship. But it was a magical year for Lowe in a different way. By the end of the season he wasn’t winning a Cal League title, he was in the big leagues.

“I felt like that year, I couldn’t do anything wrong,” Lowe said.

Lowe recalled one 66er game from 2006 in particular that I remembered as well. That year he had been converted from being a starter to being a reliever, but he was pressed into duty as a starter in Game 2 of a doubleheader against High Desert in San Bernardino on April 15, 2006.

Lowe pitched five dominating innings in the seven-inning contest, allowing only one baserunner to reach base. With two outs in the fourth, a throwing error by third baseman Ronnie Prettyman allowed Rusty Brown to reach first base. Lowe struck out eight in five innings.

“I remember wanting to go back out for the sixth, since it was only a seven-inning game, but they wouldn’t let me,” Lowe said.

Reliever Aaron Trolia allowed a two-out double to Juan Senreiso in the sixth, breaking up the no-hit bid. Stephen Kahn pitched the seventh for the save in the 3-0 win and the trio of pitchers settled for a combined one-hitter. The game turned out to be Lowe’s only California League victory.

San Manuel Stadium unveiled

The 66ers officially unveiled the new signs and logos for the newly renamed San Manuel Stadium (formerly Arrowhead Credit Union Park) at Wednesday’s press conference.

I like the logo: it incorporartes a baseball diamond, 2 bats and a tribal logo all into one.

There is another sign out on the E Street entrance to the ballpark. and the signage in the ballpark is improved. Parking lots have been repaved.

Although I didn’t write the news story, I was at the press conference.

Here are some noteworthy points:

  • The naming rights agreement is for 5 years, as approved by the tribe. There is a renewable 5-year option after that.
  • Initially, 3-, 5- and 10-year deals were explored before the 5-year was approved.
  • The amount of the money in the deal is undisclosed, but that money goes to the team. However, the city gets a cut of all revenue. The city gets a percentage of the naming-rights deal at the same rate as the rest of the advertising for the 66ers.
  • San Manuel had already sponsored the state-of-the-art scoreboard that was installed two years ago and had been involved with the team for years before that.
  • The key member in all of this is Byron Marquez, the 66ers’ Director of Business Relations & President of Family Outreach. Marquez is also a member of the San Manuel Tribe and presented the proposal to the tribal members for a vote.
  • There was a game played between Fontana and Yucaipa, the first game under the new stadium name following Wednesday’s press conference. However, there will be a full county clash of 3 games on Saturday, capped by Yucaipa-Redlands at 7 p.m.
  • The 66ers’ season begins April 5, with the home opener April 12.