Lewis, Nuts open Cal Finals with romp

Mariners top prospect collects three hits, Rizzo plates four

Kyle Lewis is batting .421 with two extra-base hits and six RBIs in four playoff games. (Ben Sandstrom/MiLB.com)

By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com | September 13, 2017 1:35 AM ET

LANCASTER, California -- No matter how big the margin, an emphatic win only counts as one in a best-of-5 playoff series. But Kyle Lewis believes what his club did in Tuesday's opener of the California League Championship Series will have a lasting impact.

"I think it's huge," the Mariners' top prospect said. "We had a little nerves coming into it, so being able to get off on the right foot and keep it going is going to set the tone for the series."

Lewis went 3-for-6 with a triple, two RBIs and a run scored as Modesto rolled to a 13-6 triumph over Lancaster at the Hangar. No. 13 prospect Joe Rizzo also had three hits, falling a triple shy of the cycle while driving in four runs.

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Lewis, who's rebounded from injuries that sidelined him for much of the time since he was drafted 11th overall last year, is 8-for-19 with six RBIs and five runs scored in four postseason games. After flying out against Rockies No. 5 prospect Peter Lambert in the first inning on Tuesday, he lined a single to left field in the third.

"I feel like I'm getting back to playing the way I know I can play, hitting the way I know I can hit," MLB.com's No. 44 overall prospect said. "I was having a mini-slump before that, so it's good to see me sticking with it and the results coming."

In the second, Donnie Walton, Joey Curletta and Rizzo ripped consecutive doubles and Luis Liberato followed with a two-run homer to give the Nuts a 4-0 lead. Lewis' second single of the night, a liner to center against Brad Schreiber, plated the first two of six runs in the sixth.

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"I try to just get lost in the game. If it's my number that's being called at the moment, just try to bear down and do my best and come through for the team," the 22-year-old center fielder said. "I feel like we're all doing that as a collective group, and that's leading to success right now."

Lewis whacked another liner to center in the eighth, which got past Yonathan Daza and sent the Mercer product scampering to third.

"I thought he might dive. I've been out there on the other side of that -- it's a tough play," he said. "I was fortunate to be able to be on the good side of this one."

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Rizzo registered his first multi-hit game of the playoffs after spending the bulk of the regular season with Clinton in the Class A Midwest League. The 19-year-old third baseman was promoted on Aug. 31 and batted .200 in five games.

"He's got a great attitude every day," Lewis said. "He comes to the park and works hard every day. You see his successes, and those type of guys, you root for, with his attitude and work ethic he brings every day."

Nathan Bannister pitched six scoreless innings for his second playoff win, scattering five hits and striking out one without issuing a walk.

The JetHawks scored all of their runs in the ninth, three on a homer by Rockies No. 19 prospect Sam Hilliard. They'll try to reverse the momentum when they host Game 2 on Wednesday.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @JoshJacksonMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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