San Bernardino, CA - The Inland Empire 66ers (2-1) are going to have to rewrite their record book. Until Friday, no 66ers team had ever won a winner take all game three in the wild card round, but the 2013 High-A Angels were able to get it done, wining a thrilling 7-6 final over the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (1-2) on an Alex Yarbrough RBI single in the 9th.
The Quakes were knocking on the door in the first inning after Danny Reynolds walked the bases loaded. Rancho capitalized on Reynolds strenuous start and scored on an RBI sacrifice fly and a Bobby Coyle RBI single. Kramer Sneed came on in relief and allowed one inherited run, leaving the 66ers trailing 3-0 before taking their first at bat.
In the 3rd inning the 66ers were able to strike back scoring two unearned runs. A fielding error by the Quakes and a wild pitch made it a one run ballgame entering the 4th.
In the 5th Eric Stamets started off the batting order with a sharp line drive double to left field. Zach Borenstein stayed true to his MVP title form and followed Stamets with an RBI single that Stamets tied the game. Next at bat Michael Snyder delivered an RBI double on a fly ball to center allowing Borenstein to place the 66ers in the lead 4-3. The scoring did not stop there, an RBI double from Brian Hernandez advanced Snyder to the plate increasing the 66ers lead 5-3.
Eric Cendejas replaced Kramer Sneed in the top of the 7th who had an impressive showing on the mound for the 66ers. After five big outs from Inland Empire would eventually call for closer R.J. Alavarez for a four out save. Alvarez got the last out of the 8th, but the momentum changed in the 9th inning when O'Koyea Dickson hit a home run to make it a 5-4 game. An RBI groundout tied the game, and the Quakes took the lead off of a Scott Wing single to right field.
With the season hanging in the balance, and only three outs to work with the 66ers started the 9th with a single from Gary Mitchell. Angel Rosa took over as a pinch runner at first base. After a sacrifice bunt moved Rosa to scoring position Eric Stamets singled on a line drive to center driving in Rosa for the tying run, and Stamets made it to scoring position on the throw home. Then before the Quakes could settle back in Alex Yarbrough gave the 66ers the walk off win with an RBI single to centerfield for the 7-6 victory.
Inland Empire is moving on to the Division Championships for the first time since 2006. The 66ers will take on the Lancaster Jet Hawks, and will have at least one more game at San Manuel Stadium in 2013. Game three will be in San Bernardino on Monday, September 9th. Game one will be in Lancaster on Saturday, September 7th. For information on tickets to the 66ers playoff game on Monday, September 6th contact the 66ers front office at (909)888-9922.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.