San Bernardino, CA - The bullpen was exhausted after 15 innings including six under sudden death conditions from the night before, but on Thursday night at San Manuel Stadium they were barely needed at all in a 4-0 Championship series opening win for the Inland Empire 66ers (1-0). Orangel Arenas dominated the San Jose Giants (0-1) for eight innings of three hit baseball to earn his first win of the postseason, and put the 66ers on good footing for the remainder of the series.
Less than 19 hours after what is being called by some as the greatest game in California League history, Arenas took the mound at San Manuel Stadium for the opening game of the California League Championship series. No one knew how many innings the bullpen would have to give, and no one ever will because Arenas eight inning performance gave Inland Empire all the edge it needed to beat the Giants for just the fourth time in 15 tries in 2013.
Inland Empire struck first offensively when a hard hit liner off the bat of Zach Borenstein came off the glove of San Jose outfielder Jesus Galindo and fell to the turf allowing Sherman Johnson to score from second. That was all the offense the teams would must for the next seven innings. Inland Empire 's closest rally towards a run left runners on the corners in the 3rd and runners on 1st and 2nd in the 5th. San Jose never got more than one man on base at a time the entire night, and came closest to scoring in the 7th when Arenas stranded a run at 3rd by inducing a fly out from 66ers killer during the regular season Myles Schroder.
Things opened up offensively for the 66ers in the 8th when Eric Stamets led off with a single and Alex Yarbrough followed with a double to the left field corner to put runners at 2nd and 3rd. Giants starter Ty Blach came out soon after allowing the double, and while he was actually on the mound he only allowed the one unearned run in his duel with Arenas. But the two men he left on the bases would both plate after a wild pitch by reliever Tyler Rogers, and an RBI single by team captain Brian Hernandez. Inland Empire added a fourth run when Andy Workman singled to score Michael Snyder.
Up 4-0 in the 9th Inland Empire called on closer R.J. Alvarez to wrap up the win, and after walking the first man at the plate, he retired the next three in order including strike outs of Trevor Brown and Devin Harris to end the game.
The 66ers will host game two at San Manuel Stadium on Friday at 7:05. It will be the final home game of the 2013 calendar year for the Inland Empire 66ers. Fans are encouraged to come out and support the team one last time, and to enjoy Toyota and Scion of Redlands 50 cent Friday as well. The game can be heard on the 66ers flagship station AM 1050 KCAA. For more information on Inland Empire 66ers baseball go to 66ers.com.