Valley Press Staff Writer
LANCASTER —Brian Holmes was nearly unhittable as he exited after the seventh inning Thursday night against High Desert.
But it was the southpaw’s early miscues that had Holmes somewhat frustrated after the JetHawks lost 5-0 to the Mavericks and missed out on a three-game sweep.
“It was a tough start but I just tried to battle the best I could,” said Holmes, who gave up four runs early but finished by retiring 14 of the last 15 batters he faced. “I tried to just settle in and do what I could to keep us in the ballgame.”
While Lancaster dropped to 74-56 with 10 games left in the regular season, the JetHawks were more than happy to take two of three from High Desert, especially coming off a four-game sweep at the hands of Bakersfield. Lancaster is now 4-10 in its last 14 games.
“Shoot, we got walked-off against three times in the last series,” said Lancaster outfielder Brett Phillips said. “It was bad to lose this game but it’s good to win a series.
“That’s what you ultimately want to do in the playoffs … just win each series.”
Added Holmes: “We’ve had some rough ballgames. Hopefully this can help us get some steam, going into the playoffs.”
Holmes night got off to a shaky start when High Desert’s Jamal Austin whacked a pitch out to left on the first pitch of the night. Holmes and JetHawks manager Rodney Linares gave most of the credit to the Mavericks’ leadoff man.
“I’m going to throw a fastball in the zone on the first pitch,” Holmes said. “If he wants to take a hack like that then I just have to tip my cap.”
Quipped Linares: “I call that the Rickey Henderson rule. He could have easily hit a lazy pop up.”
Holmes allowed another run in the first and one in each of the night two innings before finding his groove with catcher Jobduan Morales. The lefty gave up just one hit and struck out four in his final four frames.
“He bounced back to have a really nice outing,” Linares said of Holmes, who dropped to 5-2 after allowing four runs and nine hits in all. “He didn’t lose his composure like he’s sometimes done and that was good to see.
“He ended up having a really nice outing. He could have folded early on.”
Holmes certainly wasn’t helped by his offense as the Lancaster attack was 0-for-8 with runners and scoring position and left eight men on base.
The JetHawks had runners on second and third with two outs in both the fifth and sixth innings but couldn’t cut into the deficit.
“Baseball is a game of failure but there’s no excuses,” said Phillips, who left four runners on. “We had plenty of chances with runners on base but couldn’t capitalize.
“The good thing about this game is that we’ll get back at it tomorrow.”
Said Linares: “Two-out RBIs are big and we haven’t been getting many of those. Those are the ones where you make your money.”
Lancaster also grounded into a trio of double plays, the last of which ended the game in the ninth.
“Those are always killers,” Linares said. “But it was just one of those days.”
“Sometimes you have to tip your cap to the other team. They took advantage of us when we weren’t aggressive. It was one of the nights that you want to forget about.”
Gonzalo Sanudo pitched the final two innings for Lancaster and gave up a run on two hits.
Lancaster will now head to Inland Empire for a three-game series beginning today at 6:30 p.m. as Evan Grills will get the start for the JetHawks.
Lancaster will play three at Inland Empire and three at High Desert before ending the regular season with a four-game home set against the 66ers.