Lancaster's game at Lake Elsinore began with a surreal scene Saturday night, then ended with one that's starting to become familiar for the JetHawks.
During batting practice, the JetHawks rushed off the field to aid some children who were caught in a bounce house that fell over when a small dust storm rolled through The Diamond. It also scattered tents and other debris from a pregame event that was being held beyond the outfield.
No one was injured and the JetHawks went on to post a 5-1 victory over the Storm, clinching the California League first-half South Division title.
After securing a Wild Card berth last season en route to the Cal League championship, Lancaster celebrated a third title in less than a calendar year.
"I think first of all we have a pretty talented group of players," JetHawks manager Rodney Linares said. "We got into a bit of a funk there when we lost eight straight, I think a lot of the guys ran into some fatigue problems, a lot of the kids who are first-year full-season players coming from Tri-City and even some from Greeneville. But they battled through it. Faced some adversity. We had a pretty big lead and then lost eight straight. It was a humbling experience for most of the guys.
"This game will do that to you, but they never backed off. It's a special group of guys."
As for the events that occurred before the game, Astros No. 5 prospect Delino DeShields -- a member of last year's championship team -- called it "one of the craziest things I've ever seen."
"I'm from the East Coast and you come over here and you see some things you've never seen before. That was pretty insane," he said. "They were having a picnic or something up there and the wind picked up, tents flying around, everything just all over the place. The blow-up jumpy thing kind of flew off and there were some kids in there, but they were fine, thank goodness. That was something different."
DeShields has hit .299/.385/.426 in 52 games this year and leads Lancaster with 16 stolen bases. He tripled, walked twice, drove in a run and scored once out of the leadoff spot in the clincher.
Matt Duffy, with 11 homers and 50 RBIs in 59 games, supplied the power again Saturday. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a walk and two RBIs.
Luis Cruz (3-4) came out of the bullpen to yield a run on two hits and a walk while striking out five in three innings to earn the win.
"I think [the success] is a testament to what we're doing here as an organization, trying to be competitive, winning and developing guys at the same time," said Linares. "I'm happy for them, I'm happy for myself. It's been a fun ride the last year and a half in Lancaster and, hopefully, we can continue that success."
Myrtle Beach 5, Carolina 1 (7 innings)
The Pelicans took the nightcap of a doubleheader with the Mudcats, wrapping up the Carolina League South Division first-half crown after Winston-Salem lost. Rangers No. 3 prospect Luis Sardinas went 2-for-4 with a double, Jake Skole drove in two runs and Paul Schwendel and Joe Van Mater (2-3) combined to strike out eight over seven innings.
South Bend 5, Dayton 4:
Rudy Flores hit a solo homer to break an eighth-inning tie and propel the Silver Hawks to the first-half Eastern Division crown in the Midwest League. Flores finished 3-for-4, adding a double and totaling three RBIs. Starter Jesse Darrah did not factor in the decision after yielding four runs on seven hits over seven innings.