Houston Astros minor league Advanced-A affilate, Lancaster JetHawks, lost three straight games and were eliminated from the California League Playoffs.
The Astros California League JetHawks opened the South Division final on September 10 against the High Desert Mavericks. After winning the first game, they lost three straight and were eliminated on September 13. The JetHawks were the only Astros minor league franchise still in playoff contention after the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks bowed out on September 10.
On September 10, Lancaster edged the Mavericks 6-4. The JetHawks were behind 1-0 when Myles Straw singled in the top of the third, scoring Kyle Tucker. In the sixth, after a Johnny Sewald double with the JetHawks trailing 3-1, Osvaldo Duarte homered to tie the game at 3-3.
In the top of the 8th, with the score still knotted, Straw and Sewald drew back-to-back walks. A Duarte single moved both runners up a base, and then a Bryan Muniz single drove in two runs. Duarte went to third on the play, followed by a run-scoring single by Trent Woodward. The Mavericks scored once in the bottom of the 8th, but it wasn’t enough and Lancaster held on for the win.
JetHawks starter Elieser Hernandez threw five innings, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks, while striking out three. Albert Abreu got the win after relieving Hernandez, pitching 2.2 innings and giving up three hits. Andrew Thome earned the save, pitching the final 1.1 innings allowing no hits or walks.
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The second game on September 11 saw Lancaster manage seven runs on nine hits, but High Desert exploded for a big night to even the series at 1-1. Although Johnny Sewald hit two home runs for the JetHawks, the rest of his teammates’ bats were cold. Matt Bower lasted 4.2 innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits, enough to be saddled with the loss. All told, the Mavericks belted out 20 hits and 15 runs.
The JetHawks dropped to 1-2 in the series on September 12 with a 9-4 home loss to High Desert. The Mavericks scored first in the opening frame, and went ahead for good in the second with five runs. Lancaster starter Brock Dykxhoorn lasted five innings, allowing eight runs on 12 hits, with the early damage too much for his teammates to overcome.
Home runs accounted for all four JetHawks runs. Shortstop Duarte hit a solo shot in the fifth inning, and Muniz hit another in the sixth (one of his three hits). Duarte’s replacement, pinch hitter Marc Wik, slammed a two-run blast in the bottom of the ninth. Lancaster’s two out rally fell short when Muniz grounded into a force out with the bases loaded.
Lancaster had their backs against the wall for the September 13 home game. Starter Jose Hernandez threw seven innings, allowing only six scattered hits, one run and no walks in a fine outing, leaving with the score tied 1-1. High Desert put up three runs in the top of the eighth to take the lead, and the JetHawks scored another run in the bottom of the frame. The Mavericks tacked on three more in the ninth, and shut down Lancaster in their half of the inning to end the series.
While the JetHawks’ season ended in disappointment, the future of these young players remains bright. Several will likely begin the 2017 season in Double-A, with others starting in Lancaster, and possibly moving to the higher level by mid-summer. Fans would have enjoyed seeing their team win a title, however, they saw fine performances all season and will continue to see rising minor league stars wearing the Lancaster uniform.
**Statistics provided by Baseball-Reference and MLB.com**