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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

JetHawks Crash and Burn in Game 5

Minor league baseball: Lancaster's dream season is shattered by playoff loss to San Bernardino, 4-1.

September 13, 2000|MITCH POLIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

LANCASTER — This wasn't the way the Lancaster JetHawks expected to see their season end.

Not after they posted the best record in the California League and won both halves of the Southern Division race.

Not after they won the first two games of the Southern Division Championship Series.

The JetHawks saw their bestseason come to an end in a 4-1 loss to San Bernardino in front of 1,855 fans at The Hangar.

Lancaster, which finished the regular season with an 89-51 record, entered the playoffs with the top hitting team in the California League.

But after winning the first two games of the division series, the JetHawks' offense was nearly silenced by San Bernardino's pitching.

After dropping the fourth game of the series, 4-3, in 15 innings Monday night in San Bernardino, Lancaster was the victim of a brilliant pitching performance by Eric Junge.

Junge pitched a six-hitter and finished with eight strikeouts. It was the first complete game for Junge, who had an 8-1 record during the regular season.

The JetHawks, who were hoping to reach the league championship series for the first time, entered the final game of the best-of-five series having won 31 of their last 35 games at The Hangar.

They also had a 37-11 record against the Stampede.

Little did anyone expect that their only lead of the game would come in the first inning.

Antonio Perez led off the inning with a single and later scored on sacrifice fly by Juan Silvestre.

The Stampede used a three-run rally in the third to go ahead for good.

After loading the bases with one out, San Bernardino tied it on a single by Jimmy Gonzalez and took the lead when Mike Collins scored on right fielder Wilfredo Quintana's errant throw home.

After that, the Stampede hung on behind the pitching of Junge.

"The pitcher just pitched a heck of a game," third baseman Bo Robinson of the JetHawks said. "What else can you say. I give a lot of credit to San Bernardino because they played hard after they were down, 2-0, [in the series]."

First baseman Peanut Williams said Junge left the team frustrated.

"Our strength all year has been our hitting," Williams said. "We're used to scoring a lot of runs and this series it worked against us."

The Stampede, which will play Visalia for the title, became the first California League team to rally from a 2-0 deficit and win a playoff series since Riverside and Stockton in 1988.

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