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Relievers Come to Rescue for JetHawks

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

The JetHawks entered Saturday night’s game against Lake Elsinore with a team earned-run average of 5.02.

That’s not a glittering statistic, but JetHawk relievers added some luster to the staff’s numbers in a 7-5 victory before 5,568 at the Hangar.

Three pitchers combined for a season-high 15 strikeouts.

Brian Sweeney (2-0), a right-hander who entered with a 4.63 ERA, won in relief after striking out seven of the nine batters he faced. He entered with Lancaster trailing, 4-2.

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Left-hander Jason Bond worked the final two innings to earn his second save and the JetHawks (2-0) shut out the Storm (0-2) over the final four innings.

The JetHawks took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when leadoff batter Joe Mathis tripled to the right-center field gap and scored on Carlos Villalobos’ grounder one out later.

Lake Elsinore tied the score in the second when the first of two doubles by Matt Curtis scored Ty Bilderback, who led off with a single.

A one-out, run-scoring double by Jim Horner in the third put the JetHawks ahead, 2-1, but the Storm tagged starter Javier Gutierrez for three runs in the fourth to pull ahead, 4-2.

The JetHawks rallied in the fourth, getting a run-scoring double by Villalobos and a solo home run by No. 9 batter Luis Molina to tie the score, 4-4.

The seesaw contest continued in the fifth, with the Storm taking a 5-4 lead. A bloop single to right by Trent Durrington, a .242 hitter with only 13 runs batted in in 230 at-bats, drove in Larry Barnes from second and sent Gutierrez to the showers.

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In came Sweeney, who who shackled the Storm in the next two innings with off-speed pitches and breaking balls.

The JetHawks took advantage.

With two out in the sixth and Joe Mathis on first after an infield single, Joel Ramirez blasted starter Josh Deakman’s 1-1 pitch over the left-field fence and onto Avenue I to put the JetHawks back on top, 6-5.

Like Molina, Ramirez, who bats second, was an unlikely power source. It was only his second home run of the season.

The JetHawks added an unearned run in the seventh to make it 7-5. With two out, Shawn Buhner doubled in James Clifford, who reached base on third baseman Greg Morris’ throwing error to open the inning.

Sweeney gave way to Bond, who retired the first five batters he faced.

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