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Lancaster bats stay hot in Cal opener09/14/2012 2:41 AM ET
By Zack Cox / Special to MLB.com
After a relatively quiet opening-round series -- by California League standards at least -- the bats awoke for the Lancaster JetHawks in the semifinals.
And if Game 1 is any indication, there is more heavy hitting to come in the Finals.
Jonathan Meyer's two-run double in the fifth inning proved to be the difference as Lancaster picked up a 7-4 win over host Modesto for a 1-0 lead in the Championship Series.
The Astros' third-round Draft pick in 2009 went 2-for-3 with a walk and drove in three runs, tying him with Modesto's Tim Smalling for the league lead with 10 postseason RBIs.
"[My strategy] has been to kind of be aggressive and patient at the same time," Meyer said of his playoff approach. "I have a little saying going right now, a 'Get him before he gets you' kind of mentality."
Holding on to a 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth, the JetHawks loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a single by shortstop Jiovanni Mier. Meyer then ripped a line drive to left, scoring Mier and right fielder Domingo Santana to give Lancaster a lead it would not relinquish.
"[Modesto pitcher Nick Schnaitmann] was starting a lot of guys off with off-speed pitches, mainly sliders," the third baseman said. "I came into the box thinking fastball low and away, and he threw me a slider down and in and I just reacted."
The Lancaster offense was clicking on all cylinders again Thursday, putting up double-digit hits (12) for the fifth consecutive game. Mier and Santana led the way with three hits and two runs apiece.
Houston's first-round pick in 2009, Mier also drove in the game's first two runs with a double in the top of the third. The 22-year-old has hit safely in five of the six games he has started this postseason.
The JetHawks have scored 37 runs over their last five games after plating just eight in their three-game opening-round series against Lake Elsinore, an improvement Meyer attributes to a combination of pitching and park dimensions.
"We played in Lake Elsinore [in the first round] and they're a team with some really good pitching," the 21-year-old explained. "I think they were probably the best team, pitching-wise. Then we went to a few hitters' parks between our place and High Desert, and we saw not-as-good pitching but a lot more production at the plate."
David Martinez (2-0) picked up his second victory of the playoffs, allowing four runs on seven hits while striking out six over six innings. Kennil Gomez (0-1), who lasted just 2 1/3 innings in the loss, was touched up for four runs on eight hits.
Smalling, the hero in the Nuts' series-clinching win over Bakersfield on Wednesday, drove in two runs with a single and a sacrifice fly. Left fielder Delta Cleary also knocked in two with a triple in the third.
To reach the Finals, Modesto rallied to take three straight in the Cal League semifinals after dropping the first two games to Bakersfield. The JetHawks took three of four from High Desert in their semifinal series, their only loss coming in Game 2 -- a 16-3 thumping.
Meyer said picking up the win in the first game of this series takes a great weight off his team's back.
"It's huge," the California native said. "We're just really relaxed; it's amazing how a relaxed team plays. We're having fun right now and everyone is just feeding off each other as a group."
Game 2 will be Friday night in Modesto before the series moves to Lancaster for any remaining games.