LANCASTER – Before the Lancaster JetHawks saw a single pitch Friday night, they had already given up five runs to the Inland Empire 66ers.
But the JetHawks stormed back behind a 5-for-6 performance from shortstop Brendan Rodgers, and beat the 66ers 14-7 at The Hangar.
“I was getting in hitter’s counts,” Rodgers said. “They were throwing it off speed, and I’m just getting it out up over the plate and putting a good swing on it. I did get a few lucky knocks tonight.”
Rodgers had a home run, two RBIs and scored three runs, while right fielder Sam Hilliard went 2-for-6 with a home run and four RBIs.
Rodgers gave Lancaster its first run with a solo homer in the bottom of the first inning. Inland Empire designated hitter Kyle Survance Jr. answered with an RBI double in the top of the second, giving the 66ers a 6-1 lead.
In the bottom of the second, Lancaster designated hitter Roberto Ramos hit a solo home run of his own to cut Inland Empire’s lead to 6-2. Rodgers and center fielder Yonathan Daza each hit RBI singles, and Lancaster trailed 6-4.
The JetHawks broke the game open in a strange six-run fourth inning. All nine batters in Lancaster’s lineup saw the plate, and all six runs the JetHawks scored were unearned.
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, JetHawks second baseman Garrett Hampson reached on an error. From there, the next six at-bats for Lancaster produced bases, highlighted by right fielder Sam Hilliard’s three-run homer to give the JetHawks a 7-6 lead – their first of the game.
After Hilliard’s bomb, Ramos and left fielder Wes Rogers hit back-to-back RBI singles before Ramos gave Lancaster a 10-6 lead off an errant throw to second base by 66ers catcher Michael Barash.
“They had one big inning early, and then we ended up having a big inning also,” JetHawks manager Fred Ocasio said of Lancaster’s comeback.
The 66ers scored in the top of the sixth, but Lancaster scored three more runs in the bottom of the inning for good measure.
66ers first baseman Matt Thaiss got things going for Inland Empire with a two-run triple in the top of the first inning. Catcher Michael Barash drove in Thaiss with a single to give the 66ers an early 3-0 lead.
Two outs later, Inland Empire right fielder Jared Walsh hit a two-run homer for a 5-0 lead.
Despite giving up five runs in the first inning, JetHawks starting pitcher Trey Killian earned the win thanks to three scoreless innings later in the game.
“He pitched his butt off,” Rodgers said of Killian. “That first inning was a rough one, but he battled the rest of the way and got a quality start and a W. So it worked out in his favor.”
Former JetHawks pitcher Josh Hader was called up to the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday. … Rodgers’ home run in the bottom of the first inning extending his hitting streak to 17 straight games. He became the first JetHawks player with five hits in a single game since last season. … Palmdale native Mylz Jones stole his 16th base of the season in 23 tries. … The win was the second of the season after the JetHawks trailed by five or more runs.