Quakes Manager Mark Kertenian Praises Dodgers Prospect Jacob Amaya After Season-Saving Walk-Off Home Run

Entering Game 3 of the California League South Division Final on Friday, manager Mark Kertenian and his Rancho Cucamonga Quakes found themselves in an 2-0 series hole to the Lake Elsinore Storm.

Yet Kertenian’s extremely successful run as Quakes manager was kept alive for at least one more day thanks in large part to another local product, Jacob Amaya.

Amaya, the Quakes’ everyday shortstop since Jeter Downs’ promotion to Double-A Tulsa, led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run. He then ended the game the same way he started it, with a walk-off shot to left field to give the Quakes a season-saving 6-5 win over the Storm.

Kertenian, who graduated from Arcadia High School that is located just 32 miles from LoanMart Field, had plenty of family and friends in attendance. As did Amaya, who the Dodgers selected in the 11th round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of South Hills High School in nearby West Covina.

Amaya told DodgerBlue.com that his family had attended every one of his games since he arrived from Great Lakes in early August, but none were as memorable as his heroics on Friday.

“To do it in front of my family … that was something special,” Amaya said.

The two home runs raised Amaya’s season total to nine, but Kertenian believes they mark an exciting next step in his young shortstop’s development. “They were both very exciting, controlled swings. He’s not coming out of his shoes,” Kertenian noted.

“That’s gonna be really healthy for his future for him to get those types of swings off but knowing that it’s not an all or nothing deal. He’s got some pop. He’s a strong guy, he’s compact but he’s very strong.”

Amaya was not the only hero on Friday night. Relief pitcher Wills Montgomerie entered in the fourth with a 4-3 lead, taking over for struggling starter Andre Jackson. While Montgomerie did eventually allow the Storm to take a 5-4 lead, his 5.1 innings provided some much-needed stability to give the Quakes a fighting chance.

“There’s just something about how he attacks (in situations) like this,” Kertenian said. “If you see that guy every day, he’s all business, man. That wasn’t too big for him. He’s prepared himself for that. He executed and stayed with himself.”

Kertenian worked another managerial masterstroke when he had outfielder Starling Heredia pinch-hit for Garrett Hope to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning. Heredia crushed a fastball just inside the left-field foul pole, tying the game.

“He wasn’t messing around,” Kertenian said. “He was watching the game intently, entire game, he was with Elian Herrera between innings and when we were on defense, talking about the game. He was ready. You could just tell.”

That set up Amaya’s walk-off home run off a fastball in his wheelhouse two pitches later.