The South Division Finals for the California League featured the first half winner Rancho Cucamonga Quakes against the second half winner Lancaster JetHawks. The winner of the series advances to the California League Championship Series to face the winner from the North Division.
Game 1 – There’s no place like home. (JetHawks 8, Quakes 4)
The Lancaster JetHawks, who came limping into the playoffs with four straight losses, bounced back at home in game 1 with four home runs to take the opener 8-4. Bret Boswell smacked two of the home runs, along with home runs from Tyler Nevin and Alan Trejo. JetHawks starting pitcher Brandon Gold didn’t give up a hit until the fourth and pitched into the 8th inning to get the win.
Game 2 – The one where Cody Thomas robbed the JetHawks of a homerun. (Quakes 6, JetHawks 5)
The Quakes came out firing with three runs in the top of the first, but Lancaster kept chipping away. The highlight of the game was no doubt, Cody Thomas robbing Colton Welker of a game tying home run in the bottom of the seventh. Welker knew he got it and threw up his hands, only to be denied when Thomas went above the wall to bring it back. The following inning when the Quakes threatened to add an insurance run with a runner on third with only one out, Carlos Rincon was picked off third base by Brian Serven which also seemed like another momentum changer. But alas, the JetHawks could not figure out Parker Curry who retired all 12 hitters that he faced over the final 4 innings of the game. Series tied 1-1.
Game 3 – The one with only one run. (Quakes 1, JetHawks 0)
The Series moved over to Rancho and this one ended up being a pitching duel between Edwin Uceta and Matt Dennis. The only run of the game came on a home run from Omar Estevez in the sixth inning. The JetHawks couldn’t figure out Uceta and only mustered 2 hits; one from Tyler Nevin and the other from Willie Abreu. The JetHawks lose their 10th straight game on the road. Quakes lead series 2-1.
Game 4 – The one where the JetHawks try to avoid elimination. (Quakes 8, JetHawks 1)
The road woes continued for the JetHawks as they were unable to get anything started on offense. They managed to get seven hits and seven walks, but were only able to score one run. On the other hand, Cody Thomas and Carlos Rincon did a majority of the work for the Quakes. Thomas had four hits and two RBIs and Rincon had two hits and three RBIs. The Quakes win the series 3-1 and advance to the California League Championship Series for the first time since 2015. The Series begins tonight in Visalia.
Gail is Bay Area born and raised. She was conflicted on which side of the Bay to root for early on, but eventually made the right choice and sided with the A’s. Gail now lives in Southern California and enjoys travelling around the country watching as many baseball games as she can. Follow her on Twitter @1baseball_gail.