LANCASTER, Calif. - The Lancaster JetHawks nearly came back from six runs down in the ninth inning, dropping the series opener, 6-5, to Inland Empire Tuesday night at The Hangar. Carlos Herrera nearly tied the game, but Inland Empire's Jonah Todd made a diving catch to end it.
Lancaster (16-16) trailed 6-0 heading into the bottom of the ninth. They quickly got on the board against Carlos Salazar, getting a double from Colton Welker and a two-run home run from Roberto Ramos. The long ball was the league-leading 10th of the season for Ramos, who was named Cal League Player of the Week Monday.
Vince Fernandez followed with his third home run of the season to cut the deficit to three, giving the JetHawks back-to-back homers for the second time this season. After allowing the next two batters to reach, Salazar was pulled from the contest.
Sean Isaac retired the first two batters he faced, but the JetHawks weren't done. Forrest Wall brought home a run with an infield single, and a wild pitch made it 6-5. With the tying run on second base, Carlos Herrera nearly completed the comeback. He was robbed of a hit by Jonah Todd, who made a diving catch in centerfield.
Inland Empire (15-17) was in control from the start, scoring three times in the first inning against Matt Dennis (2-5). The 66ers added two more in the fifth inning, and it looked like the visitors would cruise to a win.
Jason Alexander (2-2), who threw seven no-hit innings in his last start, gave up just three hits in seven shutout innings Tuesday night. Only two of Lancaster's hits left the infield.
The 66ers scored what wound up being a crucial run in the top of the ninth on a Julian Leon single. It put them on top, 6-0, but it wound up deciding the game.
Lancaster is now 2-8 in series openers to start the season. They now lead the South Division by just a game over Inland Empire and Rancho Cucamonga, who won in Lake Elsinore Tuesday.
Game two of the series is Wednesday night. Logan Longwith (1-2) gets the start for the JetHawks against Inland Empire's Alex Klonowski (0-1). First pitch from The Hangar is at 6:35 pm.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.