Lake Elsinore, CA - The Quakes scored a pair of late runs, but fell 5-2 to Lake Elsinore on Saturday night at The Diamond. Rancho is now a game back of High Desert in the Wild Card standings with two games left to play in the regular season.
Down 5-0 in the eighth inning, Rancho Cucamonga (32-36, 64-74) rallied for two runs off of Lake Elsinore's Alan Oaks. Dillon Moyer led off with a double and moved to third base on a groundout. Brandon Dixon brought Moyer home with a triple to left-center field that put Rancho on the board. With Erisbel Arruebarrena up, Dixon scampered home on a wild pitch to make it 5-2.
After Oaks walked Arruebarrena, the Storm turned to closer Brandon Alger with one out. Alger struck out Pratt Maynard, but gave up a double to Chris Jacobs that put men on second and third and brought the tying run to the plate. Rancho could not come through, as Steven Proscia struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Quakes started slowly, going hitless in the game's first five innings. Matthew Shepherd (6-1, 5.02) earned the win in a spot-start, striking out six in a season-high five innings of work. He did not allow a hit and only two men reached against him. Brandon Dixon's infield single in the sixth off of Genison Reyes was the team's first hit of the game.
Brandon Martinez (0-1, 7.20) took the loss in his first start of the year for the Quakes. Martinez started in place of the injured Jharel Cotton, gaving up four earned runs on eight hits in five innings. Lake Elsinore (34-34, 74-64) got on the scoreboard first with a two-run homer from Jeremy Baltz in the opening inning.
The Storm scored in the second and third innings against Martinez as well to go up 4-0, but the Rancho right-hander settled down to retire seven of the final eight men he faced.
Lake Elsinore added another run in the seventh when Jose Rondon took Gustavo Gomez deep to left field. It was the first homer of the season for the California League's Rookie of the Year. The five-run deficit was too much for Rancho to overcome.
The Quakes have an uphill battle with two games to go to make the postseason. High Desert's victory put Rancho a game back in the Wild Card standings. There will only be a Wild Card berth if Lancaster wins their final two games of the season against Inland Empire after the Sixers won in extra innings on Saturday night.
Rancho continues their final series of the season on Sunday evening in Lake Elsinore in need of a victory. Luis Chirinos (0-2, 6.38) is slated to make his sixth start of the season for Rancho against the Storm's Colin Rea (10-9, 4.03). First pitch at The Diamond is at 5:05 pm and the game will be broadcast live on Fox Sports AM 1350 starting with the LoanMart Pregame Report at 4:50 pm.
If and when Rancho qualifies for the California League Postseason, ticket information will be made available on rcquakes.com and on the team's Twitter and Facebook pages. Stay tuned as the Quakes make a push for the playoffs! Go Quakes!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.