River Cats and Lil'A's walk-off with dramatic wins

Both the River Cats and the Lil'A's needed some 9th inning magic to pull out tight playoff victories on Wednesday night. Kane County's game was postponed. Find out how the River Cats and A's pulled out their wins in this edition of <i>Minor League Notebook</i>...

Sacramento River Cats

The Sacramento River Cats used a three run bottom of the 9th inning to grab a stunning victory over the Iowa Cubs. The River Cats now hold a commanding 2-0 advantage over the Cubs and are one win away from their second straight PCL championship.

The Iowa Cubs seemed to take a large step towards winning the game when Russ Johnson hit a solo homerun off of starter Joe Blanton in the top of the 7th inning, extending the score to 4-2 Iowa. Blanton danced out of trouble much of the game, allowing ten hits over those seven frames. He allowed all four runs in the game, two coming on solo homeruns.

Mario Ramos relieved Blanton and threw a 1-2-3 inning in the 8th, but allowed a lead-off single in the 9th. The runner advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and Ramos was lifted for Eric Cammack. Cammack walked Trenidad Hubbard intentionally and then lost Denny Hocking on four straight pitches. With the bases loaded and one out, Ron Flores came into the game needing to keep the game within reach for the River Cats. He did better then that. Flores retired Johnson on a short fly to right and then induced Bill Selby to line out to end the inning with Iowa still leading only by two runs.

Buoyed perhaps by Flores' Houdini act, the River Cats came out determined to make Iowa closer Jermaine Van Buren work for his save. Graham Koonce led off the inning and walked on four pitches. John Baker then pinch-hit for catcher Mike Rivera and he drew a five-pitch walk. Jon Weber pinch hit for Nelson Cruz (who had homered earlier in the game) and laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Adam Morrissey (who ran for Koonce) and Baker to second and third. Mike Rouse grounded out to second, cutting Iowa's lead in half. However, it was the second out of the inning, putting the River Cats on the edge of defeat.

Steve Stanley came to the plate and he delivered a clutch, two-out RBI single to tie the game. Mark Kiger followed with a single, moving Stanley to third. That ended Van Buren's night. Nate Bland took over for the Cubs, but he had as little success finding the strike zone as his predecessor did. Bland walked Dan Johnson on five pitches to load the bases. He then battled with Mike Edwards, but eventually lost, as Edwards drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch to win the game. All told, the River Cats saw 35 pitches in the decisive 9th inning.

Sacramento will try to sweep the series and clinch the title in Iowa on Friday night.

Modesto A's

Modesto used a dramatic two-run rally in the bottom of the 9th to beat the San Jose Giants. The win gave Modesto a 3-2 series win, allowing them to move on to the California League championship series.

Omar Quintanilla was the hero, delivering a two-out single to score Jason Perry from second with the game-winning run. Perry had hit a game-tying single off of San Jose closer Jeremy Accardo with two-outs and two-strikes, driving in Lloyd Turner from third. Turner has singled to lead off the inning and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a groundout. Isaac Garcia drew a walk following Perry's hit, moving Perry to second, before Quintanilla drove him home with the winning hit.

The game had a scary beginning, as San Jose lead-off hitter Fred Lewis lined a Brad Ziegler pitch right back up the middle, hitting Ziegler on his forehead. Ziegler was down for several minutes before leaving on his own power. He reportedly suffered a fractured right temporal bone.

The game was tied three times and was tight throughout. San Jose had taken the lead with two runs in the top of the 8th inning on a pinch-hit homerun by Brian Buscher. The runs were scored off of reliever Chris Shank, who had pitched extremely well in the series up until that inning. However, his teammates got him off the hook with their 9th-inning magic.

Modesto will take on the Lancaster JetHawks in the California League championship series starting Thursday evening in Modesto. The JetHawks took four of six from the A's during the regular season.

Kane County Cougars

The Kane County Cougars game with the West Michigan Lumber Kings was postponed due to rain. When the series resumes, the Cougars will hold a 1-0 advantage.

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