The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes refused to become the first Los Angeles Dodgers Minor League affiliate eliminated from a playoff series in 2019, defeating the Lake Elsinore Storm (San Diego Padres affiliate) 6-5 on Friday in thrilling fashion.
After the Storm took a 5-4 lead against Quakes reliever Wills Montgomerie in the top of the ninth inning, pinch-hitter Starling Heredia and Jacob Amaya hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the ninth to give Rancho Cucamonga a season-saving victory in Game 3.
The Quakes forced a fourth game in the best-of-five series after the Storm won the first two contests at home on Wednesday and Thursday.
Luis Campusano, the No. 8 ranked Padres prospect per Baseball America, led off the ninth with a double. Pinch-runner Lee Solomon then scored the go-ahead run off two sacrifice flies.
Amaya not only ended the game with a home run but started it with one as well, leading off the bottom of the first inning with a shot to center field.
The Storm capitalized on then Quakes starter Andre Jackson’s control issues in the top of the second. Jackson walked three in the inning, and the first two came around to score on a single from second baseman Xavier Edwards, who then helped execute a delayed double steal to bring home another run helped by some shoddy Quakes defense.
Campusano followed with an RBI single to give the Storm a 3-1 lead.
The Quakes responded in the bottom of the third, starting with a solo home run from center fielder Jeren Kendall.
Kendall, the Dodgers’ first-round pick in 2017, has shown vast improvement in the second half of the season after struggling at the plate for much of his professional career, earning California League Player of the Week in August.
After an error and back-to-back walks, Bryan Morales hit a two-run single to give the Quakes a 4-3 lead.
When Jackson’s control faltering and pitch count piling up Montgomerie took over in the top of the fourth. He held Lake Elsinore scoreless until the top of the seventh, when first baseman Eguy Rosario homered to straightaway center field, tying the game at four.
Montgomerie wound up getting the win after throwing 68 pitches over 5.1 innings. Quakes manager Mark Kertenian said after the game that Montgomerie would have continued if extra innings were needed.