JetHawks Eliminated

The last place Rancho Cucamonga Quakes out-slugged the Lancaster JetHawks 16-14 Monday night to eliminate the Diamondbacks' Hi-A affiliate from postseason play. Still, the game was yet another example of the brightest element of Lancaster's season: the offense.

In a game in which the two teams combined for 30 runs on 37 hits, the Quakes were able to attain the final advantage.  But the JetHawks mounted two impressive comebacks to keep the game going as long as it did.

Down by four runs in the ninth, the JetHawks strung together five hits to send the game into extra frames.  Then, after yielding a go-ahead run to the Quakes in the top of the 11th, a magical moment transpired.  Mayobanex Santana, a 25-year old journeyman infielder who had come into the game two innings earlier as a pinch runner, legged out an inside-the-park home run to tie it back up.  Santana had un-retired in August to play for Lancaster, but finished the year with nine hits and three homers in 27 at bats.

After the Quakes put up two more runs in the twelfth, the JetHawks' offense finally ran out of steam and went down quietly.  But on the year, this is an offense that has made quite a bit of noise.  Consider:

  • The versatile Brandon Burgess led the California league with 26 home runs.  He would not have that distinction had shortstop Mark Reynolds not been promoted to Tennessee in July; he had clubbed 23 in 76 games with Lancaster. 

  • Uber-prospect Carlos Gonzalez banged out 21 homers and 35 doubles en route to compiling a league-leading .563 SLG.  Carlos also led the team with 94 RBI, good for fourth best in the league.

  • Second Baseman Emilio Bonifacio proved to be the most dangerous leadoff man in the league.  His 61 stolen bases was 11 more than his nearest California League competitor.  His 117 runs scored, while second to Fernando Perez of the Tampa Bay affiliate Oaks, totaled 16 more than the third place finisher. Bonifacio also finished sixth in the league in batting average (.321) and second in hits (175).

  • First in hits was teammate Chris Rahl with 186.  Rahl also finished second in the league in hitting with a .327 mark.

  • Infielder Javier Brito, limited in playing time due to the success of Bonifacio and Reynolds, still managed a 1.069 OPS in 264 at bats.

  • Cyle Hankerd, one of this year's third round draft picks, slugged .800 in the 65 at bats he logged since getting called up from the Yakima Bears.  For the season, Hankerd finished with an incredible .384 batting average.    

The only real star on the other side of the field, of course, was Greg Smith, who went 9-0 with a miniscule 1.63 ERA before the organization realized that there was nothing more for him to gain from Hi-A ball.  His ability to dominate in a home ballpark that produced so many stellar offensive performances is something that cannot be overblown.

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