Cron extends streaks with walk-off slam

Angels prospect was hitless before game-winning blast in 11th

By Sam Dykstra / Special to | July 25, 2012 10:25 PM ET

Inland Empire's C.J. Cron carried a 14-game hitting streak and an eight-game RBI streak into Wednesday's game against Rancho Cucamonga. But he was 0-for-4 heading to the bottom of the 11th inning.

Both streaks could have ended earlier, but the slugging first baseman was afforded one more shot. Stepping into the box with the bases loaded, he actually wanted to make one more out.

"I was just looking for something up that I could maybe hit to the outfield for a sac fly," Cron said.

He did a lot more than that.

The Angels' No. 2 prospect took a hanging 0-1 slider from reliever Eammon Portice and launched it over the left-field wall for a walk-off grand slam that gave the 66ers a 10-6 victory over the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.

"I knew it once I hit it," he said. "I don't know exactly what it was like around me. I know the place got loud and it was pretty cool to come to home plate and see a bunch of smiles."

Cron's blast gave him a .319 average (22-for-69) during the hitting streak, which began on July 9. The more impressive streak is the nine-game stretch in which he has driven in at least one run. The Utah native has 20 RBIs during that stretch, giving him the overall Minor League lead with 95.

Cron ranked fourth in the Minors on July 15 -- the day before the streak began -- but trailed then-leader Ryan Wheeler of Triple-Reno by 15 RBIs. The Angels' top pick in the 2011 Draft said numbers weren't on his mind when he faced Portice in the 11th.

"No, not at all," Cron said. "In that situation, a sacrifice fly would have been awesome, so I didn't care how the run scored. The sweetest part is just getting the win. We tied it up [with a run] in the ninth and then left runners on third with less than two outs in both the ninth and 10th. We had come close. I just wanted to do whatever to get the 'W.'"

The slam, his second of the season, provided one of the most exciting moments in his brief professional career, especially since it gave the 66ers their fourth win in five games.

"It's pretty much up there," the 22-year-old University of Utah product said. "I hit a walk-off home run in college, so this is my second one. But that wasn't a grand slam. Just the way the team's been playing here lately, it's nice to get another win. I guess you could say it was a pretty special moment."

Angels' No. 3 prospect Kaleb Cowart went 4-for-6 with a homer and three RBIs, while No. 4 prospect Taylor Lindsey contributed three hits and scored three times.

Jean Almanzar's one-out RBI triple in the ninth boosted Inland Empire into a 6-6 tie and enabled Cron to get one more shot at keeping his streaks alive.

Dodgers' No. 20 prospect Leon Landry went 3-for-6 with an RBI and two runs scored and fell a single shy of the cycle for the Quakes. Joc Pederson was 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs.

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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