For O'Koyea Dickson, his performance in the playoffs Thursday felt like it was a long time in the making.
"It feels good," he said, "with all the hard work put in over course of the offseason and Spring Training and in the season."
Dickson went 4-for-4, scored two key runs and delivered a clutch RBI in Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga's 8-5 comeback win in 10 innings at Inland Empire. The victory forced a decisive Game 3 in the California League's opening round.
"I just wanted to go out and see the ball and hit it," the native of San Francisco said. "I wasn't trying to do too much. In BP, I was working on driving the ball through the middle of the field. Then in the game, I was able to get a couple hits through the middle of the field."
Dickson singled to center in the second and fourth and was stranded on third base after doubling in the sixth. With the Quakes down in the eighth, 5-3, the Sonoma State University product came to the dish with runners on the corners. He knocked an 0-1 offering from 66ers reliever Eric Cendejas into right field.
"I knew the submariner was going to give me a two-seamer inside. The first pitch was a slider and I took it," Dickson said. "I had a chance to get a sacrifice fly, but I was able to move the runner over to third as well. It was a good at-bat for me."
Bobby Coyle then tied the game with a groundout to first base.
In the 10th, the 23-year-old first-base prospect stepped in with one out and a runner on first. He took two balls and then drilled the third pitch foul to the left side.
"With the 2-0 pitch, I wanted to go for the jugular," Dickson said. "It was a pitch I could handle."
Inland Empire hurler Ty Kelley made a throwing error on his fifth pickoff attempt of the at-bat, which sent Darnell Sweeney to third. The 66ers intentionally walked Dickson, but Coyle singled in Sweeney and Noel Cuevas then knocked in Dickson.
"The pitcher messed up bad with that error. He kind of took the bat out of my hands. I'm glad Bobby came through with the hit," Dickson said.
On the hit from Cuevas, he was determined to score from the moment the bat hit the ball.
"I knew where the outfielders were playing and I knew it was a two-hopper to center field," he said. "I wanted to make sure I got a good jump and took a good turn. If I had to run over the catcher or slide under the tag, I was ready for that."
Coyle finished with three RBIs.
Michael Snyder was 3-for-5 with a homer for Inland Empire.
The Quakes and 66ers meet again Friday, and the winner will advance to face South Division champion Lancaster in a best-of-5 series that begins Saturday.
In other playoff action:
Visalia 3, Modesto 2 (12 innings)
Tom Belza came through with a go-ahead double in the top of the 12th inning for the Rawhide. Kevin Medrano went 4-for-5, and both Belza and Medrano stole a base. With the win, Visalia advanced to the Division Series, which opens Saturday at San Jose.
Andrew Barbosa pitched five shutout innings before giving up a run in the sixth. He exited after 5 1/3 frames, having allowed four hits and a walk while piling up seven strikeouts.