JetHawks, 66ers make use of Rodgers' bats

Rockies No. 19 prospect Hilliard goes deep twice, plates three

Inland Empire's Kyle Survance Jr. grabs Brendan Rodgers' bat during Monday's game. (Steve Wendt)

By Andrew Battifarano / | September 4, 2017 11:41 PM ET

Before Monday's game, Class A Advanced Inland Empire decided to use one bat for the entire contest.

When the Lancaster JetHawks got wind of this, they took the idea one step further -- both teams would use lumber belonging to top Colorado prospect Brendan Rodgers.

"Somebody on our team is friends with somebody on their team," Lancaster outfielder Sam Hilliard said. "We thought it would be a funny idea for everyone to use the same bat on the field with no batting gloves because it was the last game of the year." 

Lancaster collected 19 hits and rolled to an 11-4 victory in the regular-season finale at The Hangar. Hilliard, the Rockies' No. 19 prospect, went deep twice and drove in three runs.

Gameday box score

"Obviously, it worked out for me. I felt really good," Hilliard said. "He has a nice bat obviously. It had a bunch of pine tar on there actually, so it felt pretty good for me."

Rodgers played 38 games with Double-A Hartford this summer before returning to the JetHawks on Friday as the team prepared for their California League playoff run. When the teams decided to have some fun,'s No. 8 overall prospect graciously donated his equipment.

"He thought it was funny," Hilliard said of Rodgers, who batted .400 with the JetHawks before moving up to the Eastern League on June 22 and sported a .336 average this year across two levels. "He offered his bat for everyone to use, so he was definitely into it." 

Angels No. 2 prospect Jahmai Jones led off the game, though things didn't start on a promising note. 

"[Jones] started it off, but he ended up breaking it and we had to switch to another Brendan Rodgers bat. But everyone pretty much used his bat the entire game," Hilliard said. 

MiLB include

After each half-inning, the bat would be trotted across the field. Each player passed the bat to the next hitter. 

"The [bat boy] didn't have to show up," Hilliard said with a laugh. "Everybody just left the bat at the plate. So he didn't have to run, get the bat and bring it back. It was really funny, so if somebody struck out, they handed it off to the other guy, kind of like in Little League. It was fun to watch." 

Hillard led off the second and ripped the second pitch from Ryan Clark over the fence in right-center field. An inning later with one run in and Rodgers on third, Hilliard deposited a 1-1 pitch from Clark over the 410-foot marker in center for his 21st dinger of the season. 

"I was just trying to be aggressive and stay in the middle of the field," he said. "I had a personal goal of 20 home runs. I wasn't trying to hit a home run, but if it happened, it happened. But I was just trying to have good at-bats and was trying to get good pitches to hit."

Hilliard closed his regular season hitting .300 with 51 extra-base hits and 92 RBIs. But would the Wichita State product use Rodgers' bat when Lancaster opens the postseason Wednesday against Rancho Cucamonga in a best-of-5 series? 

"I don't know if it was the bat that helped me, but I felt good at the plate in general," Hilliard said. "But I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't going to use it heading into the playoffs." 

Every JetHawks starter collected at least one hit and eight of them finished with at least two. Rodgers had a double, a single and scored a run, while Hamlet Marte homered and doubled in a three-hit game.

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"It was funny, but everyone was still locked in and trying to win," Hilliard said. "But we were having fun and I thought it was especially funny that we weren't wearing batting gloves. It was kind of out of the norm, for sure."

Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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