Quinonez's clutch hitting lifts Crabs

Pinch-hitter belts key home run, then provides walk-off hit

By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com | September 8, 2013 6:26 PM

Charlotte manager Brady Williams was seeking a spark off the bench. Jonathan Quinonez didn't just give him a flame -- he fanned the fire that kept the Stone Crabs alive in the playoffs.

The 22-year-old smacked a pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning and then singled in the walk-off run in the ninth in the Class A Advanced squad's 3-2 victory over Daytona. With the win -- which included a one-hour, 33-minute rain delay in the eighth inning -- the Stone Crabs staved off elimination, forcing a fourth game in the best-of-5 Florida State League Championship Series.

Quinonez hadn't played since going 0-for-3 when Charlotte beat Fort Myers, 2-1, in the deciding game of the first-round matchup.

The Tampa Bay farmhand entered as a pinch-hitter for catcher Jake DePew in the bottom of the eighth and hit a leadoff homer against Jeffrey Lorick. The earned run was the first conceded by Daytona this postseason -- a span of 43 innings.

"We were trying to find a way to get him in the game," Williams said. "We didn't really have anything going offensively over the last 2 1/2 games. I thought it was the right time to maybe use somebody off the bench.

"I tip my hat to the kid. He came to play."

Taylor Motter followed Quinonez's homer with a one-out double, and then the skies opened and the teams endured the rain delay.

Ryan McChesney pinch-ran for Motter when play resumed and tried to score from second on Jake Hager's single. Zeke DeVoss, who made an incredible catch when the Cubs won the second game, nailed McChesney at the plate. Charlotte manager Brady Williams disagreed with home-plate umpire Sean Ryan's assessment and was ejected for arguing.

"You're fighting for your life, so to speak," Williams said. "We were down, 2-1, and had a chance to tie the game up. It was a big play in the game. Obviously, I saw it different than the umpire."

Daytona escaped the eighth without further damage and took the 2-1 lead into the ninth. After Jeff Malm singled home the tying run, Quinonez supplied the walk-off hit -- a line drive to right field that plated Alejandro Segovia.

Quinonez, signed out of Venezuela in 2008, began the season with Class A Short-Season Hudson Valley, hitting .337 with a .902 OPS in 25 games. He was promoted to Charlotte in late July, and as a part-time player for the Stone Crabs, hit .302 with a .768 OPS over 21 games.

"He's very versatile," Williams said. "He can play all over the place, play left, right, third, short, second. He's a free swinger, but he finds a way to put the barrel on the ball. He came up here from Hudson Valley, and he's done a nice job since he's been here."

Game 4 will be at Charlotte at 6:30 p.m. ET on Monday.

Jake Seiner is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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