LANCASTER, Calif. - The JetHawks surrendered five home runs and dropped the opener of the final regular season series to the Inland Empire 66ers, 12-8, on Friday night at The Hangar.
The JetHawks (78-59, 34-33) are now tied with the 66ers (59-78, 34-33) for the second half lead in the South Division with three games to play.
Lance McCullers (3-6) was sharp out of the gate and allowed an unearned run in the third inning before the JetHawks answered with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Tyler White led off with a solo home run and Ronnie Mitchell followed with a double. Danry Vasquez singled him home before Chan Moon finished the scoring with a deep triple to centerfield.
McCullers hit a speed bump in the sixth inning and couldn't recover. Alex Hinshawk and Dennis Raben started the inning with solo homers to tie the game 3-3. McCullers allowed three singles and a walk to the next four hitters for another two runs before being pulled from the game.
Chris Cotton relieved McCullers and allowed a double and a single to the first two batters he faced. Sherman Johnson followed with a two-run homer. In total, Inland Empire scored eight runs on eight hits in the frame to take a 9-3 lead.
Johnson added two more runs with a home run in the eighth inning against Gonzalo Sanudo.
Jack Mayfield answered with a two-run homer for the JetHawks in the bottom of the eighth.
Raben hit a solo shot in the ninth inning to join Johnson in the multi-homer club and put the 66ers up 12-5 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Brett Phillips reached to lead off the ninth on an Angel Rosa error. Austin Elkins was hit by a pitch and Rio Ruiz doubled to score Phillips. White followed with an RBI-groundout and Ronnie Mitchell's popup fell on the infield for a hit to score another run. Michael Smith came in to pitch and induced two foul outs to end the game and pick up the save.
Eduard Santos (3-4) tossed 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to pick up the victory.
The series continues on Saturday as the JetHawks send Kyle Westwood to the mound against Dan Tobik. First pitch is 6 p.m. at The Hangar. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a JetHawks reversible basketball jersey courtesy of LoanMart.
Don't miss a moment of exciting JetHawks action at The Hangar in 2014. Playoff 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.