Lancaster 9 @ High Desert 8 in 11 innings
The JetHawks used a furious ninth inning rally to tie, and then got clutch hitting in the 11th inning to win the third and deciding game of their mini-series with the High Desert Mavericks Friday.
Mock, who was 14-7 and went at least five innings in all but two of his 28 starts during the regular season is typically considered the JetHawks staff ace, and giving him an early lead had to put the squad in good spirits, but those wouldn't last long.
Garrett Mock was rocked for five first inning runs, quickly putting the JetHawks in a hole and sending manager Bill Plummer into his bullpen early. Mock gave up hits to the first four hitters he faced, and the damage could have been much worse, but the JetHawks caught a break, recording the third out of the inning at third base after Edgar Varela cut off a throw headed for home and caught a High Desert baserunner too far off third base.
After the five run first Plummer send Mock back to the bump in the second, but his time there would be short. After getting the lead off man on a fly out, Mock would give up two singles, two doubles and a walk before Plummer would make the call. Jon Castellanos made 28 appearances this season, all of them as a starter, but Plummer knew he needed someone to chew innings, and Castellanos was his man. He immediately induced a double play to end the second inning, and went on to change the entire complexion of the game, going 5.2 innings, allowing just two hits and one earned run. His relief effort kept the JetHawks, who were in danger of getting run off the field in the second inning, in the game.
The JetHawks would pick up their second run of the game in similar fashion to the first, as Erik Schindewolf scampered home after a passed ball. The offense, which had been so strong during the season, had managed two runs, both on balls getting past the catcher. In the sixth inning Lancaster would finally manufacture a run without the High Desert backstop's help, as Jay Garthwaite's single would drive home Alex Frazier, who had doubled to start the inning. Suddenly after six innings, without much offense, the JetHawks found themselves down only four.
In the bottom of the seventh High Desert would add to their lead as first baseman Chris Lubanski hit his third homer of the series to make the lead 8-3. In the top of the eighth the JetHawks would take advantage of catching problems again, as Jeff Cook singled, took second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a fly out, and then scored on a fielder's choice, but even after Alex Cremidan came on for Castellanos and pitched around two hits to post a scoreless eighth, the JetHawks came into the top of the ninth down by three, knowing this could be the final inning of their season.
Apparently they weren't finished.
Shortstop Danny Richar led off the inning with a triple, followed by a double from catcher Phil Avlas. Schindewolf singled to drive Avlas home and suddenly the tying run was at the plate with no outs. The Mavericks went to the pen, bringing on righty Gabe DeHoyos to face lead off hitter Garrabrants. Garrabrants was already 2-4 on the day, walking once and scoring a run, when he turned on a DeHoyos offering that just cleared the left center field wall and tied the game. Though DeHoyos would retire the next three hitters, the JetHawks rally had tied the score, and after Dustin Glant gave up a lead off single in the bottom half he would get the next three outs and send the game to extras.
High Desert hurler Eric Ackerman would strike out the side in the top of the 10th inning, but in the bottom Glant would again give up one hit, but no runs, sending it to the 11th. Avlas caught the Mavericks by surprise, dropping down a bunt single to lead off the inning, but when Schindewolf attempted to sacrifice Avlas to second, the Mavericks pounced, getting Avlas on the force play. Once again Garrabrants came up in the clutchest of situations, but this time he would go down swinging, leaving the lead run on first with two out. Perez would single, sending Schindewolf all the way to third, and bringing right fielder Jeff Cook to the plate with the lead run on third and two down.
Of the JetHawks on the playoff roster, Cook has had the best season by far. During the first half he was up and down, splitting time in the outfield with several players and never really finding his groove, but after Chris Carter, Stephen Drew, and Miguel Montero were promoted, and Jon Kaplan was traded, Cook became the regular right fielder and turned it on. Still, he had struggled in this series, and came into his 11th inning at bat just 2-12 in the series.
Nobody cares about that anymore.
Cook singled to right, scoring Schindewolf and giving the JetHawks their first lead of the day. Closer Matt Wilkinson came on in the ninth with one last hurdle to climb. Chris Lubanski had already hit one homer on the day, but he hit two in Thursday's Mavericks win, and the JetHawks weren't about to give him the opportunity to do it again. Wilkinson 'unintentionally intentionally' walked Lubanski, but when the next hitter, Kila Kaaihue singled it put the tying run in scoring position. Wilkinson hunkered down and did what closers do in a tight spot, he struck the next hitter out, and then got the final out of the game on a force out at second. The JetHawks advance to the next round, with one big question remaining.
Who's the starter in game one on Saturday?
Castellanos was scheduled, but after 5.2 innings of incredible ball on Friday, he won't be able to pitch until at least Tuesday. While Sam Smith spent time in the rotation, and Jesus Silva made spot starts now and again, it appears the ball will be handed to Chad Scarberry in Game One Saturday against rival Lake Elsinore. Scarberry had struggled this season, going 5-6 with a 6.14 ERA as a starter, and in his two starts this season against Lake Elsinore, he's fared even worse. On July 7th Scarberry went five innings, allowing six hits and five earned runs against the Storm, and August 8th he lasted only four innings, allowing 10 hits and six earned. Amazingly though the bullpen will be relatively fresh even after their starter was knocked out in the second inning of an 11 inning game Friday, thanks to Castellanos, who did more than stop the bleeding, he actually gave the JetHawks an infusion with his stellar work.