South Bend Rolls; Bullpen Can't Complete Cal Sweep

Lancaster looked to sweep the series, and had High Desert right where they wanted them until the usually dominant bullpen struggled; In South Bend on the other hand the bullpen was at its best, and Cesar Nicolas was doing damage at the plate.

Lancaster 11 @ High Desert 15

It took exactly two hitters for the fireworks to start in High Desert Thursday night.  The JetHawks shortstop, Kenny Perez, came up in the top of the first inning with one out and nobody on and launched a rocket to center field that put the JetHawks up 1-0.

That score would not stand up.

Even after the JetHawks added two more in the top of the third inning, on first baseman Javier Brito's solo shot and yet another RBI from Perez, there was still a real edgy feeling. 

Something big was about to happen. 

When the Mavericks put a five spot up in the third inning courtesy of five singles a walk and a double that chased starter Matt Chico from the game, it seemed that maybe the JetHawks had weathered the storm.  After the Mavericks tacked another tally on the board in the fourth the JetHawks found themselves down 6-3, but in the top of the sixth it seemed the JetHawks might be in route to sweeping the three game miniseries.

Lancaster hung a six in the sixth using four singles and a walk ahead of back to back triples from Danny Richar and Steve Garrabrants.  It vaulted the JetHawks into the lead and things seemed to be setting up perfectly for Manager Bill Plummer to use the same bullpen rotation he had ridden to victory in game one. 

In the fateful 8th inning the JetHawks handed the ball to Micah Owings.  Owings has been incredible this season, but Thursday was not his night.  After getting the two of the first three hitters in the inning Owings would give up a two run homer that would pull the Mavericks to within one, and Plummer would go to his bullpen after another single.  Like last night, Plummer would turn to lefty specialist Reuben Kerbs, and like last night, Kerbs would struggle.  The first hitter Kerbs faced, Bernard Stephens, would launch a two run homer to center field, and that would be it for the lefty.  Matt Wilkinson would come on to finish things out, trying to hold the High Desert lead to just one.  That wouldn't be the case either.  Wilkinson would give up three straight hits before Plummer again made the call, this time to Jesus Silva.  Silva would record the final out of the inning, but not before walking two and allowing an earned run.

Final tallies for the High Desert eighth inning:  Four pitchers, six singles, a double, three walks, eight runs scored, two home runs and a strikeout.

Lancaster would come out for the top of the ninth inning and manage one, but that would be it.

It was an uncharacteristic meltdown for the pen, and wasted some hot bats.  Richar had a pair of triples and four RBI on the day, catcher Phil Avlas continued to be productive, going 1-3 with two walks, two RBI and a run scored, and every member of the starting lineup had at least one hit.  The JetHawks put together a big inning, and continued to add to it, but the eight run eighth. 

Southwest Michigan 7 @ South Bend 11

The bats were alive in South Bend as well as the Silverhawks played host in Game 2, but the unlike Lancaster, South Bend's bullpen came alive as well.  Starter Ross Ohlendorf pitched well enough to keep his team in the game, giving up 10 hits and six earned runs, but the bullpen was huge, throwing four innings of one run ball and securing the win.

Once again second baseman Emilio Bonifacio was the perfect lead off hitter, scoring three times, once again the bottom of the order contributed, with left fielder Travis Gulick and center fielder Jereme Milons combining to go 4-8 with two RBI and four runs scored, first baseman Cesar Nicolas was the very definition of a clean up hitter, driving in three.

After falling behind 6-0 the Silverhawks bats got hot courtesy of a little small ball.  Catcher Wilkin Castillo started things off by reaching on an error, followed by an Augie Murillo double and then after Mark Reynolds walked Gulick dropped a perfect bunt single, and then after pitcher Jarrad Lavergne threw the ball away things started getting out of hand.  A Milons single scored two more, three batters later Nicolas would collect two of his RBI on another single.

The six run inning tied things up for the Silverhawks, and the errors would become a common theme.  SWM would five up four unearned runs on six errors by six different players.  In the Silverhawks seventh two runs would cross the plate, one courtesy of two errors, and though all three eighth inning runs were earned, an error and a wild pitch would certainly contribute. 

Hipolito Guerrero would pick up the win with a perfect inning of work, and Esmerling Vasquez would earn the save by allowing just one run in his 1.2 innings. South Bend sweeps the series, and will take on West Michigan in the next round.


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