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66ers extend Cal League Finals09/18/2006 12:39 AM ET
By Marissa Rega / Special to MLB.com
The Inland Empire 66ers hit three home runs to end a prolonged drought and avoid elimination in the California League Championship Series with an 8-2 victory over the Visalia Oaks.
Inland Empire had gone 11 games, including all seven postseason contests, without homering. However, after Jeffrey Dominguez, Luis Valbuena and Brent Johnson hit one-out singles to plate a run in the fifth inning, Johan Limonta drilled a three-run shot over the right-field fence to give the 66ers a 4-1 lead.
Nick Moran replaced Oaks starter Jonathan Barratt and walked Omar Falcon before giving up a two-run homer on a first-pitch fastball to Casey Craig.
"The team was on a high and I just kind of banked on it right there," Craig said. "Nobody felt like they were going to get out."
Falcon added a leadoff blast, his first hit in the series, in the eighth. Craig tripled and came home on an errant throw by second baseman Josh Asanovich to cap the scoring. Craig went 3-for-4, falling a double short of the cycle.
The 66ers hit a league-low 76 roundtrippers during the season, none after Aug. 31.
Inland Empire starter Justin Jordan (1-0) blanked the Oaks through the fourth, eventually giving up one run on five hits over six frames. The 25-year-old right-hander walked one and did not strike out a batter.
"He did exactly what we needed him to do," Craig said. "Everyone's kind of searching for the ring now."
Aaron Trolia tossed two scoreless innings before Jose De La Cruz gave up a run on three hits in the ninth.
Mark Schleicher slugged a two-out solo homer in the fifth to give the Oaks a short-lived 1-0 lead. Josh Arhart added an RBI single in the ninth.
Barratt (1-2) surrendered four runs on five hits, walked three and struck out six over 4 2/3 innings.
The Oaks, in search of their first crown since 1978, send Derek Feldkamp to the mound in Game 5 on Monday at 10:11 p.m. ET. The 66ers call on Mumba Rivera as they try for their second championship in four years.
"When (Rivera's) on, he's unhittable," Craig said.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.