Rancho Cucamonga, CA -
Angel Castillo capped an incredible ninth-inning rally against Cal League Pitcher of the Year Brad Brach, ripping a game-ending two-run double off the center-field fence in the bottom of the ninth inning, sending the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes to the Cal League Championship Series, with a 6-5 win over the Lake Elsinore Storm.
Tuesday's win at The Epicenter gives the Quakes a 3-1 win in the South Division Finals and their first berth in the Cal League Championship Series since 1998.
Leading 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth, the Storm brought Brach in from the bullpen, for his first appearance in the post-season. With a run already home and a man aboard, Brach struck out pinch-hitter Jon Townsend to send the game to the ninth.
After a scoreless top half of the ninth from Quakes' reliever Matt Oye (1-0), Rancho mounted an improbable three-run rally off of Brach, who established a new Cal League record earlier this year, with 41 saves. There would not be a 42nd.
Darwin Perez opened the inning by reaching on a third strike in the dirt, but was later picked off of first base by catcher Ali Solis. After Mike Trout struck out for the second out, the series seemed destined to head back to Lake Elsinore for a decisive Game 5. But Brach couldn't get the 27th out, as Alberto Rosario and Luis Jimenez had back-to-back singles, putting the tying runs on base. Gabe Jacobo followed, fouling off a number of pitches before finally reaching on an infield single, scoring Rosario to make it 5-4. Brach then walked Dillon Baird, loading the bases for Castillo.
With the outfield drawn in for a play at the plate, Castillo blasted a 1-1 pitch off the base of the center-field fence, bringing home Jimenez and Jacobo to end the game, sending The Epicenter into a complete frenzy.
The Quakes took a 1-0 lead in the second, when Jacobo led off the inning with a triple, then scored on a Baird double off of Storm starter and Riverside native Matt Lollis.
Lake Elsinore tied the game in the third on a Cole Figueroa single, then grabbed the lead by scoring three in the fifth against Quakes' starter Manny Flores, keyed by a two-run single from Chris Tremblay.
The Quakes got a run back in the sixth, making it 4-2 on a Castillo RBI hit.
Vince Belnome's RBI double off of Nick Pugliese in the seventh, provided the Storm with a big insurance run, as he knocked in Tremblay to make it 5-2.
Eric Oliver, who entered the game defensively in the top of the eighth, picked up an important two-out hit in the bottom of the inning, as his RBI single plated Baird to bring the Quakes to within two at 5-3. It was at that point that the Storm removed reliever Nick Vincent, in favor of Brach (0-1).
The Quakes will bus to San Jose during Wednesday's off-day, then open the Cal League Championship Series on Thursday night in San Jose. Quakes' right-hander Orangel Arenas (1-0) is targeted to get the start in Game 1 in the Best-of-5. The San Jose Giants have not yet named a starter for Thursday's Series-opener. Game time from San Jose Municipal Stadium is 7:00pm on Thursday night. The Quakes will also be in San Jose for Game 2 on Friday, before returning to The Epicenter on Saturday night, for Game 3 of the Cal League Championship Series and the first game of the Championship Series at The Epicenter.
Saturday's game at The Epicenter will feature $1 Hot Dogs, as everyone will enjoy "dollar dogs" throughout the night. Gates open at 6:05pm and game time is 7:05pm at The Epicenter.
Tickets for Saturday's Championship Series game at The Epicenter are available on Wednesday morning, by calling (909) 481-5000 or by stopping by The Epicenter Ticket Office. Playoff Ticket Packages are also available online at rcquakes.com.
Come support your Quakes, as they look for their first Cal League Title since 1994. Thanks for a great regular season. We hope to see you for the 2010 California League Playoffs...Go Quakes!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.