JetHawks steamroll into Cal League Finals

Lancaster scores 10 times in seventh inning to close semifinals

Yonathan Daza batted .556 (10-for-18) with six RBIs and five runs scored in the four-game series. (Ben Sandstrom/

By Andrew Battifarano / | September 10, 2017 3:33 AM ET

Lancaster manager Fred Ocasio has seen his offense come through time and time again this season, so he wasn't surprised to see it erupt in a comeback effort Saturday. 

On the strength of a 10-run seventh inning, the JetHawks erased a five-run deficit and beat Rancho Cucamonga, 12-7, to close out the best-of-5 California League semifinals at LoanMart Field. Batting champion Yonathan Daza went 4-for-5 with four RBIs.

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"I've never been part of something like we had in the seventh inning where we came out down, 7-2, and scored 10 runs," Ocasio said. "The pitchers they had out there were throwing the ball pretty good, they were throwing the ball 98, 99 mph. Our offense didn't want anything to do with [them] and came out and scored 10 runs; it was amazing. It was just hit after hit, double after double, and balls hit hard pretty much through the whole inning."

After the JetHawks led the league in 11 offensive categories during the regular season and totaled 23 runs in the first three games of the semifinals, Ocasio was waiting for his team to emerge in the clincher. 

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"We had a couple of opportunities earlier in the game and we couldn't come up with the big hit," the skipper said. "It's weird because [No. 8 Rockies prospect] Garrett Hampson leads off the [seventh] inning and he gets on and gets to third base and tells me, 'Freddy, we're going to score five runs and tie this game -- we've done it all year long.'" 

Lancaster did more than that, sending 14 batters to the plate in what amounted to an eight-hit, 10-run rally. Hampson walked twice in the inning, while Daza delivered an RBI single and a two-run triple. Top Rockies prospect Brendan Rodgers provided two hits of his own, including a go-ahead two-run single. 

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"Once we started getting people on base, you could see the dugout rallying after each other," Ocasio said. "It was one of those things where it was a hit after hit, double after double, line drive here and line drive there. We had a bloop base hit in there. But I've never seen an inning like the one we had offensively tonight." 

Daza went 10-for-18 with three extra-base hits and six RBIs in the four-game series.

"Offensively, he's been outstanding all year long," Ocasio said. "Today, he showed again why he won the batting title. He's a big-time player and he comes through in those situations." 

After starter Ty Culbreth was tagged for seven runs -- six earned -- on 12 hits over 5 2/3 innings, Brad Schreiber (1-0) and Marc Magliaro combined for 3 1/3 hitless frames. With another important hurdle cleared, the JetHawks are looking forward to taking on Modesto in the best-of-5 Championship Series, which begins on Monday. 

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"The whole team is excited. They want it and they want it bad," Ocasio said. "We've had a pretty good this year already and, hopefully, we can finish it out."

Dodgers No. 28 prospect Luke Raley had three hits, an RBI and a run scored for the Quakes, while No. 17 prospect DJ Peters and Brandon Montgomery drove in two runs apiece.

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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