VISALIA – Rico Garcia outlasted his counterpart, Sam McWilliams, and cruised through seven innings to lead the JetHawks to a 3-1 rubber game win over the Visalia Rawhide on Thursday night at Recreation Park.
Garcia (3-1) made only 76 pitches over his career-high tying seven innings of work. He matched his season-high with eight strikeouts and did not walk a batter. Fifty-nine of his 76 pitches were thrown for strikes.
The JetHawks (11-10) gave Garcia a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh thanks to reliever Miguel Aguilar’s inability to find the strike zone. The lefty walked the bases loaded before walking Carlos Herrera to force home the go-ahead run.
Garcia wrapped his night with an eight-pitch bottom of the seventh, including his final two strikeouts. He lowered his team-leading ERA to 2.79.
Lancaster added an insurance run in the ninth inning when Vince Fernandez singled, stole second base and scored on a Joel Diaz single.
Justin Lawrence threw a scoreless eighth inning, and Reid Humphreys didn’t allow a run in the ninth to notch his fourth save.
Both starters were sharp from the first pitch. McWilliams struck out the side in the first and second innings while Garcia retired the first six batters he faced on just 14 pitches.
The JetHawks broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning when Colton Welker doubled to start the frame and scored on a Tyler Nevin single. Visalia (12-9) tied it in the bottom of the inning on a Marcus Wilson solo home run.
McWilliams ended up striking out a career-high 12 batters over 5.2 innings. He’s the first starter to strike out 10-or-more batters against the JetHawks since Stockton left-hander A.J. Puk fanned 12 Lancaster hitters on June 3, 2017.
Forrest Wall went 0-for-4 on the night to snap his 10-game hitting streak, the club’s longest this season.
The win gave the JetHawks their first series win at Visalia since 2015.
Here’s the box score.
Lancaster returns home to host Rancho Cucamonga on Friday night at The Hangar. Matt Dennis (1-3) will start against Andrew Sopko (1-1). First pitch is 6:35 p.m.