San Jose, CA - The improbable California League playoff run is now complete. After a 3-1 victory Saturday night over the San Jose Giants, the Inland Empire 66ers can call themselves California League Champions. This is the first title win for the Inland Empire 66ers since 2006, and the first for an Angels California League affiliate since 1996.
Inland Empire entered Saturday's game three knowing they would have three chances to take the title, but not wanting to allow San Jose any momentum. Early on it was a San Jose mistake that allowed the 66ers their first run. A dropped catch on the warning track resulted in Brian Hernandez reaching third base with no one out in the 2nd.. Andy Workman drove him in with an RBI single, one of two RBI he had on the day, to make it 1-0 Inland Empire. Sherman Johnson helped make it a 2-0 lead in the 5th with an RBI double to score Abel Baker and make it 2-0 High-A Halos.
That would be plenty of run support for starter Drew Rucinski who capped his magical 2013 run which started in independent league baseball, and ended with his third quality start of postseason play. The Ohio State alumnus pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on five hits and two walks while striking out six. It was the third quality start for Inland Empire starters in the finals, and the pitching staff as a whole allowed just two runs to the Giants in 27 innings on the mound.
Eric Cendejas and R.J. Alvarez retired the final eight batters in order to preserve the 3-1 final, with Eric Stamets fielding the final ground ball of the 2013 season and sending it to Brian Hernandez to cue the celebration. Andy Workman, who drove in six runs during the championship series, was named MVP.