SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - The JetHawks face a must-win situation on Tuesday after falling to the Inland Empire 66ers, 6-2, in Game 3 of the South Division Finals on Monday at San Manuel Stadium.
After the offense faltered in Game 2, the JetHawks managed just two runs despite numerous run-scoring opportunities. They finished the game 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position and grounded into two double plays.
Inland Empire put the pressure on early, starting the game with a double and a single off JetHawks starter Aaron West (0-1). With runners at the corners and nobody out, West managed to strike out Alex Yarbrough and Zach Borenstein before giving up a two-run single to Michael Snyder.
The 66ers increased their lead with a Borenstein sacrifice-fly in the third. Eric Stamets led off the inning by reaching on an infield single and stole second base before moving to third on a Yarbrough single.
Lancaster got its first run in the fourth inning when Tyler Heineman cranked a two-out double off the right field fence to score Andrew Aplin from first base. 66ers starter Drew Rucinski (2-0) followed by walking Brandon Meredith and allowing an infield single to Chris Epps to load the bases. Jesse Wierzbicki grounded out to leave the runners aboard.
Abel Baker homered off West with one out in the fourth inning to get the run back. It was the final batter West would face as he was relieved by Tyson Perez. West's final line included seven hits and four runs with four strikeouts and no walks.
The JetHawks got back within two in the sixth inning. They loaded the bases on a hit batter and two singles to start the inning but only came away with one run. Epps hit a sacrifice-fly to left field to score M.P. Cokinos but pinch-hitter Dan Gulbransen struck out and Joe Sclafani flew out to leave two men aboard.
Baker started the sixth with a triple against reliever Michael Dimock and scored on a two-out wild pitch. The 66ers catcher finished the game a double shy of the cycle. He went 3-for-4 with a homer, triple and a single.
Borenstein added a final run for the 66ers with a solo home run off Dimock in the seventh inning.
Eduard Santos pitched two perfect innings and R.J. Alvarez allowed a double to Sclafani in the ninth but retired the side without allowing a run to end the game.
Gera Sanchez tossed 1 2/3 perfect innings out of the bullpen for Lancaster.
The JetHawks continue the series with a must-win Game 4 at San Manuel Stadium on Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. Tommy Shirley will make his first playoff start for Lancaster against Alex Keudell.
Don't miss a moment of the 2013 season as the JetHawks look to repeat as Cal League Champions. 2013 Cal League postseason tickets and other great ticket packages are on sale now. To order, call (661) 726-5400 or visit jethawks.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.