Bates sets Cal League homer record

Four roundtrippers power JetHawks' 14-12 comeback win

(Damon Tarver/

May 19, 2007 10:02 PM ET

On Friday night, the Lake Elsinore Storm almost made California League history by scoring 30 runs against the Lancaster JetHawks.

Aaron Bates rewrote Cal League history all by himself on Saturday.

Bates became the first player in the 66-year history of the hitter-friendly league to homer four times in one game, powering the JetHawks to a 14-12 victory over the Storm at Clear Channel Stadium.

Less than 24 hours earlier, the Storm (22-21) blew through Lancaster, amassing a near-record 28 hits in a 30-0 pounding. Lake Elsinore appeared headed to another rout on Saturday after racing to a 9-0 lead in the second inning. But Bates powered the JetHawks' comeback.

The 23-year-old first baseman went 5-for-5 with six RBIs to overshadow Storm designated hitter Kyle Blanks, who followed up a 6-for-7 performance by homering and driving in five runs.

"Both pitchers that I homered against were actually making some pretty tough pitches," Bates said. "I was more concerned about just grinding out every at-bat and making sure I was able to drive the ball. The winds in this ballpark are always blowing out, but you still have to be able to square up to the ball and put a good swing on it."

Bates cut into the JetHawks' nine-run deficit and ended a nine-game home run drought with a leadoff blast, his 10th, in the bottom of the second. He connected for his second shot in as many innings in the third, slicing the margin to 9-4.

Bates resumed his assault with a two-run homer in the fifth, and Lancaster briefly took the league with a three-run sixth that made it 11-10. But Lake Elsinore's Mike Baxter answered with a two-run homer in the seventh.

"Without question, there was a sense of urgency in our dugout," Bates noted. "Last night was a real tough loss and we wanted to put it behind us quickly. Yesterday, we couldn't get good swings, but tonight was a completely different story."

The JetHawks still trailed, 12-11, in the eighth when Zachary Daeges doubled with one out. Representing the go-ahead run, Bates sent a 2-2 fastball from reliever Steve Delabar over the right-center field wall to give Lancaster a 13-11 lead.

"That was an amazing moment," the 2006 third-round draft pick said. "It had already been an unreal last couple of days, but after that home run, it just went to a surreal level."

The go-ahead blast was Bates' 13th of the season, tying him with teammate Bubba Bell for the league lead. Bates raised his batting average to .294 with 37 RBIs and a .634 slugging percentage.

In a league that has produced Reggie Jackson, George Brett, Kirby Puckett and Ken Griffey Jr., Bates stands alone.

"It felt pretty cool out there, getting a curtain call," he said. "I wasn't sure if I should, but [hitting coach] Dave [Joppie] told me, 'Get on up there,' I did what he said.

"The most important thing, though, is that we were able to get the win. Now we can go out tomorrow and have a chance to win the series. That's the best part of the whole night."

Tony Granadillo and Scott White also homered for Lancaster. Granadillo went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and three runs scored, while White was 3-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI, a walk, a stolen base and three runs scored.

Reliever Hunter Jones (3-1) -- the only pitcher on either team who did not give up a run -- got the win after allowing a hit and two walks over two innings. He struck out four.

Blanks sparked Lake Elsinore's five-run first with a grand slam. Over his last 10 games, the 6-foot-6 slugger is hitting .405 (17-for-42) with five homers, five doubles and 20 RBIs.

Mike Baxter went 4-for-5 with a homer, three RBIs and three runs scored for the Storm.

Delabar (2-4) took the loss after surrendering three runs on two hits and a walk in one inning.

Michael Echan is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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