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JetHawks at Home Tonight on Wings of a Fast Start

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mark Parent, first-year Lancaster manager, has guided the JetHawks to a franchise-best start like anything but a rookie.

Lancaster has won five of its six games and its first two series of the California League season on the road and return tonight to The Hangar, where they will make their home debut at 7:15 against the Mudville Nine, formerly the Stockton Ports.

Parent has guided a team mixed with players on the rise at the Class A level and some key players returning to the JetHawks, who were 55-85 overall after struggling in the middle of the season.

The more inexperienced players were at lower-level Wisconsin last season. The Timber Rattlers played in the Midwest League championship series.

When Lancaster defeated the Modesto A’s, 3-2, on Tuesday, the JetHawks opened the season with a franchise-best 5-1 record and swept the series.

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While Lancaster has hit the ball well to open the season, the JetHawk pitchers have been just as sharp.

“We have a good rotation,” said Scott Budner, JetHawk pitching coach. “This is all about development.”

Budner said his pitchers would have an adjustment to make regarding the confines of The Hangar, where winds usually blow toward the outfield wall.

“We’re going to learn how to pitch in this park,” Budner said. “We’re going to learn how to use the pitches we command to get people out.”

There are tickets available for tonight’s game. Opening ceremonies and player introductions will begin at 6:45 p.m.

Lancaster will send Chris Mears to the mound. Mears went five innings in game two against the Bakersfield Blaze. He gave up five hits and three earned runs while striking out four and walking three.

The JetHawk pitching staff has a 3.05 earned-run average and the second-most strikeouts (50 in 44 1/3 innings) in the league.

Jeff Heaverlo won the opener against the Blaze, going five shutout innings while striking out 10 and giving up five hits and one walk. Josue Matos pitched five scoreless innings in a series-opening victory over Modesto, giving up one hit and striking out seven. Relievers Kenny Rayburn and Neil Longo have won games thanks to late-inning comebacks and Brandon Parker has two saves in two appearances.

Lancaster is hitting .279, second in the league, and Harvey Hargrove is fifth in the league with a .438 batting average. Hargrove hit just under .300 in 130 games last season. The outfielder is second on the team with five runs batted in and is among league leaders with three doubles.

Also leading the offense is first baseman Peanut Williams, who has two home runs and four RBIs, and outfielder Juan Silvestre, who is third in the league with eight RBIs, leads the team with five runs scored and is hitting .315. Infielders Bo Robinson and Vaughn Schill are each hitting .333.

Also contributing to the offense have been utility Craig Kuzmic, catcher Scott Maynard and second baseman Willie Bloomquiest, who each have three RBIs.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

HOME OPENER

WHO

JetHawks vs. Mudville Nine

WHAT

California League game

WHEN

Today, 7:15 p.m.

WHERE

The Hangar, Lancaster

UPDATE

Lancaster won two three-game series to open the season at Bakersfield and Modesto. Mudville is 3-3 after losing, 6-5, to Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday.

* MINOR LEAGUE REPORT: Page 12


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