LAKE ELSINORE – Rico Garcia closed the season’s first half with a dominant start, but the JetHawks failed to provide him enough run support and fell to the Lake Elsinore Storm, 2-1, on Sunday afternoon at The Diamond.
Jorge Oña blooped a single over first base to score Brad Zunica from second base with no outs in the bottom of the ninth to give Lake Elsinore (34-36) the walk-off victory.
Ben Bowden (0-1) had given up a leadoff double to Zunica after taking over for Garcia to begin the inning.
The loss was Lancaster’s first walk-off loss of the season. The JetHawks (33-37) won the series but failed to come up with their first road sweep of the season.
Garcia tied a season and career-high by tossing eight innings. He allowed only one run on six hits and added seven strikeouts without issuing a walk.
The right-hander set down the final 11 batters he faced and struck out four of the final five. He totaled 89 pitches (65 strikes) on the afternoon.
The JetHawks gave him the lead in the second inning against Storm starter Michel Baez. Roberto Ramos led off the inning with a walk, his first of four on the afternoon, and later scored on a Steven Linkous bases-loaded walk. Manny Melendez flew out to centerfield to end the inning.
Lancaster was unable to produce anything else offensively in the game. They put two on with nobody out in the sixth inning, but after a Carlos Herrera sacrifice bunt, Jacob Bosiokovic grounded out and Max George struck out to end the frame.
The club put two runners on in the eighth, but the inning ended when Ramos was thrown out trying to steal third.
Lake Elsinore tied the game in the fifth inning against Garcia. Kelvin Melean led off with an infield single and Chris Baker followed with a bunt base-hit. After a single loaded the bases, Allen Cordoba brought home a run with a ground out.
Baez struck out eight batters over five innings in his start. Dauris Valdez (1-3) picked up the win with one scoreless inning of relief.
The JetHawks will play host to the California League All-Star Game and festivities over the next two days. The baseball picks up again at The Hangar on Thursday, June 21 as Lancaster begins the second half with a four-game series against Inland Empire.