One night after dramatically staying alive in the 2019 California League Playoffs behind back-to-back home runs to earn a walk-off win, High-A Rancho Cucamonga was eliminated with an 11-2 loss to the Lake Elsinore Storm (San Diego Padres affiliate).
The Storm took a 1-0 lead in the third inning and rallied for five runs with two outs in the fifth against Quakes relief pitcher Jose Martinez. Rancho Cucamonga finally scratched in the sixth on Jeren Kendall’s two-run home run.
Although it came in a losing effort, that was another encouraging sign for Kendall. He struggled at the plate last season but saw improvement this year, particularly during a hot month of August. Kendall earned California League Player of the Week during that span.
The Quakes back-to-back singles with nobody out in the seventh inning, only for three straight strikeouts to end the rally. Any hope of a comeback was further dashed when the Storm broke the game wide open by pushing across five runs in the ninth.
Rancho Cucamonga finished in first place in the California League South standings during both the first half and overall in the 2019 season. They clinched a playoff berth for a fifth consecutive season, which includes winning a Cal League title in 2015 and 2018.
The Quakes’ success this season saw prospects Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray, among others, earn respective promotions to Double-A Tulsa at various points throughout the year.
Rookie-level Ogden and the Drillers were other Los Angeles Dodgers Minor League affiliates to reach the playoffs this season.
The Storm are in the California League Championship Series for the first time since 2011, where they face the Visalia Rawhide (Arizona Diamondbacks) who finished atop the North division standings for the year.