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JetHawks' Valenzuela drives in eight
Astros prospect slugs two of Lancaster's eight home runs
09/02/2012 2:16 AM ET
Telvin Nash congratulates Rafael Valenzuela after his grand slam.
Telvin Nash congratulates Rafael Valenzuela after his grand slam. (Mike Andruski/High Desert Mavericks)
The Lancaster JetHawks clinched a California League playoff berth on Friday. One night later, they celebrated with plenty of fireworks.

Rafael Valenzuela slugged two of Lancaster's eight homers and drove in a career-high eight runs Saturday as the JetHawks crushed the High Desert Mavericks, 23-12.

Erik Castro also went deep twice for Lancaster, but the spotlight belonged to Valenzuela, who went 4-for-6 out of the ninth spot in the lineup and shattered his previous career high of five RBIs.

The 24-year-old first baseman had four homers and 27 RBIs in his first 70 games of the season but launched a two-out grand slam to cap an 11-run fifth inning in which 16 batters came to the plate.

Winds at Mavericks Stadium -- a well-known hitters' haven -- were blowing out to left field at 20 mph. If that wasn't enough, a sign that Saturday could be something special came on the game's first pitch as Astros' No. 11 prospect Delino DeShields lined a leadoff homer off starter Cameron Hobson.

The JetHawks scored four times in the second, two on Valenzuela's first homer of the night, and put up another four-spot in the third on two-run blasts by Castro and Roberto Pena.

Then came the "Downpour in the Desert" in the fifth.

Six JetHawks reached on three singles, two walks and a hit batter, and four scored before DeShields was thrown out trying to take third on Jiovanni Mier's two-run single. After a pair of walks loaded the bases, Castro lifted a sacrifice fly to make it 16-2.

Three more free passes set the stage for Valenzuela, who drove reliever Stephen Kohlscheen's offering over the fence in right-center for his first career grand slam.

Castro's solo shot in the eighth closed out Lancaster's scoring and capped a 3-for-5, four-RBI night. Andrew Aplin and Domingo Santana filled out the JetHawks' home run eight-pack.

The confines of Mavericks Stadium weren't just friendly to the visitors.

John Hicks went 3-for-5 with a pair of homers and three RBIs for High Desert, which got a leadoff blast from Mickey Wiswall in the ninth.

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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