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Mavericks try to play Giant-killers
09/17/2009 10:00 AM ET
As the 2009 postseason unfolds, follow along with as the Minors' best teams face off in an attempt to take home their league's crown.

High Desert vs. San Jose
Best-of-5 Championship Series begins Thursday, Sept. 17

High Desert

San Jose

On paper, the California League Championship Series appears to pose the classic question of whether good pitching can beat good hitting. After all, the High Desert Mavericks topped the circuit in batting, runs and homers during the regular season, while the San Jose Giants led the league in ERA and shutouts.

But the roles have been somewhat reversed in the playoffs. High Desert leads the league with a 3.02 ERA and two shutouts but ranks last with a .247 batting average; San Jose has fallen to fourth with a 4.40 ERA.

The Mavericks opened their semifinal series with back-to-back shutouts and appeared on the way to a sweep before Rancho Cucamonga won two games in a row. High Desert pulled away for an 11-6 triumph in the decisive fifth game, advancing to the Championship Series for the first time since 1997.

San Jose is back in the Finals for the third time in five years, having won titles in 2005 and 2007. The Giants also needed five games to get past Bakersfield in the semifinals, pounding the Blaze in the clincher, 12-3.

Conor Gillaspie has been San Jose's most productive hitter in the postseason, batting .389 with a homer and four RBIs in five games. The Giants need more out of Roger Kieschnick, who has yet to drive in a run in the playoffs after ranking second in the league with 110 RBIs during the season. Both teams should have their top pitchers ready early in the series. High Desert's Steven Hensley struck out 10 in a three-hit shutout in the semifinal opener and Mauricio Robles followed that up by allowing two hits and fanning eight over seven scoreless innings.

Clayton Tanner opened the Giants' postseason run by pitching seven scoreless frames and Paul Oseguera gave up one run over six innings the following night.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.