Quakes win home opener to take over first place

After a 3-4 start on a seven-game road  trip through Stockton and Inland Empire, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes returned home to LoanMart Field for their home opener on Thursday evening.

Sporting their retro home uniforms, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes celebrated their 25th home opener at LoanMart Field on Thursday evening. (Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

“Happy to be home. It was a week long [road trip] but it felt like it was a month long,” said Quakes manager Drew Saylor before the festivities began. “It was an oddity for us but we’re glad to be home at the friendly confines here and ready to get our home opener going. We’re just excited about it.”

It’s hard not to be excited about a Quakes team that is absolutely loaded with an outstanding starting rotation, a very strong bullpen and a roster containing several of the Dodgers top-ranked prospects.

One of those top prospects is 20-year-old Cuban star outfielder Yusniel Diaz, who is ranked seventh on the Dodgers prospect list, and he showed why in front of the 3,528 on hand at a chilly LoanMart Field for the home opener. Diaz went 3-for-4 on the night with a double, an RBI and a run scored to lift his early season batting average to a hefty .333 in the eventual 6-3 win over the Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres).

Dodgers top outfield prospect Yusniel Diaz got things started early for the Quakes on Thursday night with an RBI single in the first inning. He ended up going 3-for-4 on the night.
(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

“He was definitely on time, able to whack the ball,” Saylor said of Diaz. “I really felt that he did a really good job with being on time, squaring up the fastball, executing his plan at the plate. He did really really well, it was exciting to watch him do that.”

The Quakes pitching was also very good on Thursday night, both starting and in relief. Twenty-year-old left-hander Caleb Ferguson began the game and allowed only one run on two hits while striking out five of the 13 batters he faced and issuing only one walk in his 3.0 innings of work.

Even though Quakes left-hander Caleb Ferguson didn’t go the required five innings to pick up the win, he was very effective in his three innings of work. (Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

Ferguson was followed on the mound by 24-year-old right-hander Alex Hermeling, who did not allow a run and gave up only three hits with three strikeouts to pick up his third win of the young season. He was followed by 24-year-old right-hander and nearby Thousand Oaks, California native Kevin Brown and 23-year-old right-hander Gavin Pittore for a combined two runs on three hits.

But perhaps most impressive was Quakes closer and Dodgers 2017 spring training hero Shea Spitzbarth who retired the Lake Elsinore Storm in order with two strikeouts in the top of the ninth to collect his second save of the season.

“Spitzie for me was really really good,” said Saylor. “Fastball up, gets a hold of the fastball. He had a good feel for what he was doing out there.”

Another highlight of the night were the four bases the Quakes stole, two by shortstop Drew Jackson, one by designated hitter Luke Raley and one by right fielder Ariel Sandoval.

“We wanted to instill an idea that we’re going to run the bases and make the other team react to us,” Saylor said. “We’re still learning what we can and what we can’t do with those things. It’s one of those things where you don’t want to take the aggressive nature out of the athlete because that’s very tough for them to make decisions, because once they kind of ‘Hey that’s not how you do things,’ then all of a sudden they’re really tempered and really kind of passive with what they’re going to do. I’d rather us be aggressive and learn from our mistakes and move forward with that.”

With the win, the Quakes are now 4-4 on the season and are alone in first place in the Cal League South Division. They have two more games against the Storm at LoanMart field before heading back out on the road after a much-needed off day on Sunday.


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10 Responses to “Quakes win home opener to take over first place”

  1. porch says:

    Exactly why was Spitzie the most impressive tonight and what made him a Spring Training hero?

    • Ron Cervenka says:

      Give his story a read: Dodgers sign right-hander Shea Spitzbarth as undrafted free agent

      It’s not often that an undrafted kid from the low minors appears in major league spring training games and Shea appeared in nine of them. Although his numbers were not out of this world, he did a very good job, allowing 4 earned runs on nine hits with four walks and six strikeouts in 7.1 innings pitched.

      He and fellow right-hander Andrew Istler were both big fan (and media) favorites. And how can you not love a guy named after a stadium with a baseball-ish last name?

      As for Thursday night, he was flat out dominating. Almost Kenley-like.

      • Respect the Rivalry says:

        So, has anybody nicknamed him “Spitball” yet?

      • porch says:

        It happens all the time. They take guys low on the totem pole because they don’t waste guys higher on the totem poles time with meaningless time. He faced a bunch of nobodies and ended with a 4.91 ERA and 1.44 whip. Doesn’t seem like a spring training hero to me

        • Bluenose Dodger says:

          Porch – For me there is no meaningless time. Every at bat, every pitch means something to someone. Certainly Shea caught someone’s attention or he wouldn’t have made nine appearances. That seems to be too many to be meaningless with almost countless other options available to the team in ST. Shea was facing guys who had played above Class A ball, which he hadn’t in 2016.

          I don’t think any player who is striving to make it to MLB or playing as a career minor leaguer is a nobody. On a given day any player can do the unexpected.

          • porch says:

            That’s fine and you make some good points. My issue was calling him a spring training hero when the stats did not back that up at all.

        • Ron Cervenka says:

          He was a huge fan favorite and opened a lot of eyes. He also created a lot of fond memories for quite a few people. I apologize if that doesn’t carry any weight for you.

          • porch says:

            And thats perfectly fine and noteworthy. I have no problem with liking a fan favorite or cinderella. My main issue was speaking about him like hes the next Eric Gange.

    • Bluenose Dodger says:

      It is not possible to know how well Shea will do as he progresses. He was absolutely dominant, most likely unexpectedly, with the Loons last year both during the regular season and in the play-offs. Success for him now will not be unexpected. Shea is fearless.

  2. Ron Cervenka says:

    Go figure. Shea Spitzbarth just picked up his fifth save of the season in five tries. The one game that he didn’t save he won. BWTHDIKA?


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