Delino DeShields Jr. led off the 12th inning with a single, stole second and scored two batters later on Domingo Santana's base hit as the JetHawks outlasted the Mavericks, 8-7, in Game 1 of the California League South Division finals.
The original plan when DeShields reached base called for Jiovanni Mier to bunt him into scoring position. But when Mier struck out, the Astros' No. 5 prospect decided to do what he does best.
"When [the bunt] didn't happen, I was just like, 'I've got to take second, I've got to take second,'" DeShields said. "I saw [the pitcher] looking over a lot, but when I saw that leg go up, I just went.
"I was kind of mad at myself because I made an error in the previous inning and they ended up scoring a run off it, so I was kind of heated up. I just had the mentality that I was going to get on base, then I was going to take second. And that's what I did."
As soon as he saw Santana's ground ball split the shortstop and third baseman, there was no doubt in the 20-year-old's mind what would happen next.
"I was going," MLB.com's No. 85 overall prospect said. "They could have held me on [the base] and I was still going. As soon as I saw the ball clear the dirt, I was running as fast as I can."
DeShields ranked second in professional baseball behind the record-breaking Billy Hamilton with 101 steals in the regular season.
Lancaster had a seemingly comfortable 6-2 lead in the seventh, but the Mavericks stormed back as Dennis Raben hit a two-run double. An inning later, Gabriel Noriega homered and James Jones doubled and scored the tying run on an error.
In the 11th, rehabbing Astros infielder Jed Lowrie plated Santana with a groundout to put the JetHawks back in front, only to have High Desert tie it again on DeShields' throwing error.
An emotional win can be a great confidence boost, DeShields said, as long as the team remains focused on the task at hand -- in this case, a Cal League championship.
"We're definitely confident, especially with a win like that, an extra-inning game on the road, especially," he said. "But one pitch can change any game. We still have to fight and keep fighting. We know it's going to be hard. ... We still have two more games to win here."
In other California League action:
Bakersfield 5, Modesto 4
Theo Bowe's RBI double in the seventh inning proved the difference in the opener of the North Division finals.
Devin Lohman and Travis Mattair homered for the Blaze, who host Game 2 on Sunday.
Modesto rallied from a 4-1 deficit, getting a two-run triple from Rafael Ortega and tying it on Jayson Langfels solo homer in the sixth. But the Nuts managed just one hit over the final three innings.
Daniel Wolford earned the win with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Box score