66ers’ Victor Alcantara named Cal League Pitcher of the Week

Victor Alcantara

Victor Alcantara

The 66ers have fallen completely out of the playoff race with one week to play, but they are winning some individual honors as the regular season enters its final week. On Monday, Victor Alcantara was named California League Pitcher of the Week.
In his win on Friday at Stockton, Alcantara tossed eight innings, allowing just three hits, one unearned run while walking one and striking out eight.
Was this performance a surprise? Based on recent results, yes.
In his previous six starts, Alcantara he was 1-5 with an ERA of 9.09. But on Friday, his performance lowered his season ERA from 6.15 to 5.77 and improving his record to 7-12.

66ers’ Brandon Bayardi named Cal League hitter of the week

Despite a disappointing week in when they went 1-7, the 66ers earned the California League’s batter of the week award for the first time this season.

Outfielder/designated hitter Brandon Bayardi had a huge week, going 14-for-32 in eight game,s with two doubles, two triples, four home runs, 10 RBIs and nine runs scored. In Sunday’s doubleheader split, he went 4-for-8 with two home runs, five RBIs and four runs scored.

Brandon Bayardi

Brandon Bayardi

Although he missed about two months of the season from late May to late July, Bayardi has had a very good season, batting .310 with nine home runs, 35 RBIs and a .394 on-base percentage in 55 games for the Sixers. Bayardi was the Angels’ 36th-round pick out of UNLV in 2013.


He is the first Sixer to be Batter of the Week this season. Chris Ellis, Victor Alcantara and Sean Newcomb won Pitcher of the Week honors. Like the Sixers, the Quakes had one batter (Brandon Dixon) and three pitchers (Jose DeLeon, John Richy, Chase DeJong) win the league’s weekly award this season.

Quakes clinch first-half South Division title

Quakes logoEntering the day needing either to win or get a loss from Lancaster, the Quakes got both.
The Quakes (40-29) clinched the California League South Division first-half title with a 5-2 victory at Visalia on Saturday night.
It is the Quakes’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and also was the team’s first half-division title since winning both halves in 2011. Visalia (42-27) had already clinched the North Division first-half title.
On Saturday, Tyler Ogle had two hits, including his 13th home run and drove in three to lead the Quakes. It was Ogle’s two-run homer in the seventh that snapped a 2-2 tie. Brandon Dixon also homered for the Quakes.
Luis DePaula, A.J. Vanegas, Michael Johnson (4-1), Daniel Tillman, and Ramon Benjamin (fourth save) combined on a five-hitter for the Quakes.
Although Lake Elsinore’s game at Lancaster started about an hour before the Quakes’ game at Visalia, the Quakes’ game ended first, followed by Lancaster’s 12-8 loss to Lake Elsinore. The Quakes entered the game leading the first-half race by two games with two to play.

The High Desert Mavericks’ World Series connection

When you’ve had as many affiliations as the High Desert Mavericks have had over the years, they are bound to have connections with players from a multitude of organizations.
Since moving from Riverside in 1991, the Mavericks have had seven different affiliations, and are about to embark on their eighth, when the Texas Rangers come to town for 2015. And that doesn’t include the two years they were a co-op team in 1994-95 and had players from several organizations on their squad.

The California League is for players early on in their career path and that’s how two of this year’s World Series opponents: San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy and Kansas City Royals slugger Billy Butler ended up there.

But Bochy was there in 1991, as a manager for the San Diego Padres’ affiliate trying to work his way up. He had a successful career as a player, but was just starting out as a manager.
It was actually his second season in the league, having managed the predecessor to the Mavericks, the Riverside Red Wave to a 64-78 record in 1990. In 1991, he was back, led the Mavericks to a decent but not overwhelming 73-63 record, then led them to an impressive playoff run (sound familiar?), by beating Mike Piazza, Pedro Martinez and the Bakersfield Dodgers (85-51) amnd then beating the Stockton Ports in the finals, who had beaten 92-44 San Jose in the semifinals.
I covered that team. It was my first real beat and I loved it. Bochy was patient with me (I was still in college and didn’t really understand how the minor leagues worked). While I was aware of how good Bochy was, most of my focus was on the rest of the team. But while Matt Mieske, Jay Gainer and J.D. Noland will be remembered by fans of the ’91 Mavs, they aren’t remembered for their careers. As it turned out, Bochy was the best prospect on that team.

Billy Butler was with the Mavericks in 2005, in their first season of a two-season affiliation with the Royals. Butler was a young 19-year-old kid with a ton of power (25 home runs in 379 at-bats), but no position to play. They tried him at third base, but that didn’t last long. He made 18 errors in 41 games at third, including four in one game that I witnessed personally. Shortly thereafter, they moved him to left field, where he could hit, but still couldn’t field: Among players with at least 18 games played in the outfield, he was last with a .932 fielding percentage. But he could still hit, and he had a decent eye, with 42 walks in 92 games and a .348 batting average his OPS of 1.054. As it turned out, his power was not High Desert-created. It was legit. And like Bochy, he was the biggest prospect on the team.

Now they’re facing each other. The 6-4, 245-pound Bochy and the 6-2, 225-pound Butler. Opponents in the World Series. Forever connected by Adelanto.

Unlikely or not, 66ers won Cal League title

Although admittedly I didn’t get to cover many games in the last half of the season, I have been considering how surprising a run it was for the 66ers to win their sixth California League title, sweeping San Jose in the best-of-five finals on Saturday night.

It was the franchise’s first and the first for an Angels affiliate since Lake Elsinore in 1996.

There are some similarities with this team and the last Sixers team to win a title, in 2006 as a Mariners affiliate.

That 2006 team, managed by Gary Thurman, won the first half in bizarre fashion. Poor scheduling left the Sixers a game short in the first half an a half game behind High Desert. So the Sixers’ last game of the 1st half (and High Desert’s first of the 2nd half) was a Sixer victory that tied them for the first half title. So the next game, also against High Desert was another Sixer win, and the first half title, clinching a playoff spot.

Then the team was gutted. Players were promoted and what was left was a rag-tag group primarily of non-prospects.

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66ers take South title, beat Lancaster 4-3 in 15 innings

Given the stakes, it could go down as one of the greatest games in California League history, which began 72 years ago.
Abel Baker’s fifth hit of the game, a double with two outs in the top of the 15th, scored Angel Rosa with the go-ahead run and the 66ers downed Lancaster 4-3 in Game 5 of the South Division Finals.
The Sixers will host San Jose in the best-of-5 South Division Finals beginning Thursday at San Manuel Stadium, after San Jose downed Visalia 9-5 in Game 5 of the North Finals on Wednesday. Game 2 of the Championship Series is also in San Bernardino. Games 3, 4 and 5 are in San Jose Saturday-Monday, if necessary.
Here are some of the remarkable aspects of the game:

  • The game not only lasted 15 innings, but 5 hours, 31 minutes.
  • The Sixers were down to their final out before Brian Hernandez singled home Zach Borenstein from second base in the top of the ninth to tie the score 3-3.
  • There were plenty of opportunities, but some remarkable pitching (or poor clutch hitting depending on how you look at it). The Sixers had 22 hits but left 22 on base and were 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position. The JetHawks had 13 hits but left 16 on base and were 4 for 16 with RISP.
  • Sixers reliever Ty Kelley (1-1) pitched out of not 1, but 2, bases-loaded, no-out situations, 1 each in the 13th and 14th innings. The first time was a strikeout then a double play, the second time was a double play and then a strikeout.

The Sixers had a losing record in the regular season, but are advancing to the Cal League Championship Series. Is that rare? It is, but not as rare as you might think. Lake Elsinore did that in 2011 en route to winning the league title, the San Bernardino Stampede did it in 1997 before falling in the finals. Bakersfield did it in 1984 before losing in the finals.

A look at the 66ers-Quakes playoff matchup

The Quakes and 66ers open the California League playoffs on Wednesday in a best-of-3 series against each other. Game 1 is in Rancho Cucamonga, Games 2 and 3, if necessary, are in San Bernardino.

Here is a look at the teams:

Last time the franchises met in the playoffs: 2004, 66ers won best-of-3, 2-0
Last time Dodgers and Angels’ affiliates met in the playoffs: 2000, San Bernardino Stampede (Dodgers) def. Lake Elsinore (Angels) 2-0.
66ers-Quakes all-time in playoffs: 66ers are 4-0
66ers-Quakes this year: 66ers won season series, 16-8.
Team head-to-head statistics: 66ers .281 BA, 16 errors, 4.08 ERA,; Quakes .256, 36 errors, 5.02 ERA.
Top head-to-head players on current roster: 66ers — Brian Hernandez (24 G, .407, 2 HR, 24 RBIs), Zach Borenstein (15 G, .466, 4 HR, 15 RBIs), Alex Yarbrough, (24 G, .321, 18 RBIs), Eric Cendejas (8G, 3-0, 1 SV, 1.69 ERA); Quakes — Bobby Coyle (9 G, .333, 5 HR), Chris Jacobs (14 G, .286, 4 HR, 10 RBIs), Scott Schebler (.22 G, .271, 3 HR, 13 RBIs), Darnell Sweeney (24 G, .293, 1 HR, 12 RBIs), Scott Wingo (.326); Matt Shelton (8 IP, 3 H, 0 R), Daniel Coulombe (1.93 ERA, 12 K, 9 1/3 IP)
Records: 66ers 69-71, Quakes, 65-75
Pitching ranks: 66ers 4.64 ERA (fifth), Quakes 4.90 (seventh)
Runs scored: 66ers 675 (ninth), Quakes 728 (fourth)
Errors: 66ers 122 (fewest), Quakes 198 (most). Sixers infield of 1B Michael Snyder, 2B Alex Yarbrough, SS Eric Stamets and 3B Brian Hernandez lead the league in fielding percentage at their respective positions
Cal League postseason all-stars: 66ers — OF Zach Borenstein (MVP, .337, 28 HR, 95 RBIs), 1B Michael Snyder (.280, 25 HR, 92 RBIs), 2B Alex Yarbrough (.313, 11 HR, 80 RBIs, 14 SBs), P Mark Sappington (11-4, 3.37 ERA, promoted); Quakes — OF Scott Schebler (.296, 27 HRs, 91 RBIs).

Quakes’ Carlos Subero: first time in playoffs in 4 years as Cal League manager
66ers’ Bill Haselman: 1st time in playoffs in 3 years as Cal League manager