LANCASTER, Calif. - Brandon Meredith struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth as the JetHawks comeback came up just short in an 11-8 loss to the Inland Empire 66ers on Wednesday night at The Hangar.
Lancaster fell behind 9-0 after three innings but continued to put pressure on Inland Empire and finally thrust themselves back into the game with a five run seventh inning.
Meredith and Tyler Heineman started the inning with back-to-back solo home runs off starter Alex Keudell (1-0). The 66ers brought reliever Jairo Diaz into the game and he walked Carlos Perdomo before allowing a two-run home run to Joe Sclafani.
Delino DeShields followed with a bunt single and went on to steal second and third base before coming home to score on a wild pitch. The score was 9-7.
Michael Dimock, who had tossed two scoreless innings, allowed two runs in the ninth inning that proved to be much needed insurance for the 66ers.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth and Eduard Santos on the mound, DeShields lifted a fly ball to right field and Trevor Hairgrove overran it, allowing DeShields to reach second base on an error. Nolan Fontana followed by grounding a ball to shortstop that Eric Stamets threw away at first base allowing DeShields to score. Santos then walked Andrew Aplin and M.P. Cokinos to load the bases.
Ty Kelley came in to pitch and got Telvin Nash to foul out and then struck out Meredith to leave the tying runs aboard and grab his third save.
Luis Cruz (6-5), who had posted a 1.10 ERA over his last seven starts, suffered his worst start of the season. After allowing a run in the first inning, the left-hander allowed seven runs (six earned) in the second inning. He was only able to record one out in the inning before Blair Walters came in after a Michael Snyder three-run home run.
Walters allowed a run in the third inning but settled down to allow just the one run over 4 2/3 innings.
The JetHawks (15-6, 54-37) will take on the 66ers (13-8, 50-41) in game two of the series on Thursday night at The Hangar. Tommy Shirley (0-3, 3.80) will take the mound for Lancaster.
Fans can enjoy deals at the concession stands for Throw 'Em Back Thursday. Beers, hot dogs, nachos and sodas will all be available for just $2.
Don't miss a moment of the 2013 season as the JetHawks look to repeat as California League Champions. Season tickets and great ticket packages are available 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.