Jeter Downs

Jeter Downs hit a home run in the fifth inning which proved to be the winning run in the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes' 4-3 victory over the Inland Empire 66ers on July 23.  (Contributed photo by Shel Segal)

RANCHO CUCAMONGA -- Fifth inning back-to-back home runs gave Rancho Cucamonga the lead for good on July 23 and the Quakes held on to defeat the Inland Empire 66ers, 4-3, in a California League baseball game at LoanMart Field.

Tied 2-all with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, left fielder Donovan Casey found a pitch he liked against 66ers starter Cristopher Molina and knocked it over the wall in right center field.

Casey said he was just looking for a good pitch to hit.

"Nothing special, just a pitch up in the zone to drive," he said. "(Molina) kind of left the pitch out over the plate and I put a good swing on it."

Shortstop Jeter Downs followed Donovan by hitting a home run to left field, giving the Quakes a 4-2 lead and knocking Molina from the game.

Jeter said it was more a battle of staying alive against Molina than of hitting it out.

"I had two strikes on me," he said. "I battled a couple of pitches, a couple of good curveballs. I was just looking for something over the plate, something to do damage with. I was just fighting to keep that at-bat going and (Molina)

just threw me a fastball over the plate and I got good wood on it, just let the rest take care of itself."

Quakes manager Mark Kertenian was pleased with the way Casey and Downs went about their business in the fifth inning.

"They took good at-bats and didn't have results prior to the at-bats they hit the home runs on," Kertenian said of Casey and Downs. "(Downs) was very strong on a high fastball. (Casey) went up there with a purpose and executed. His pitch was a bullet. They were very good at-bats."

Starter John Rooney got the win for the Quakes. He gave up two runs in the first inning, but battled back, striking out four and retiring the last eight batters he faced.

Down 2-0 in the bottom of the first, Casey got the Quakes on the board by singling and later scoring on a double play.

Rancho Cucamonga tied it in the bottom of the third. After second baseman Deacon Liput tripled to left field, he scored two batters later on a throwing error by 66ers third baseman D.C. Arendas.

Inland Empire cut the lead to 4-3 in the top of the eighth inning following singles by shortstop Mike Stefanic, Arendas and catcher Alexis Olmeda.

The Quakes are now 21 games over .500 for the season, including having won 16 of 20 games against the 66ers. But despite the success so far, Kertenian said there's no real secret to the formula.

"The guys care about the games and preparing for them," he said.

The Quakes (who won the first-half South title) remained in first place in the standings. They will play two more games against Inland Empire on July 24 and 25 and then will host Stockton during the weekend of July 26-28.

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