Andrew Aplin filled that role Friday night, going 4-for-5 with three doubles, two RBIs and a run scored to lead Lancaster to an 11-2 romp over Modesto in Game 2 of the best-of-5 Championship Series.
After winning twice on the road to open the series, the JetHawks can clinch their first title since 1997 with a home win Saturday.
"We just wanted to come in and give them a run for their money," Aplin said. "It would have been nice to just take one of two from them, but taking two is really good. We get to go back home and win it there."
Aplin, who had two extra-base hits in his first eight postseason games, doubled in three of his first four trips to the plate. The Astros' fifth-round pick in this year's Draft also plated catcher Carlos Perez with a groundout in Lancaster's three-run third inning.
Friday was a breakout performance of sorts for the 21-year-old outfielder. He'd been held without a hit four times in the playoffs, including an 0-for-7 effort in the JetHawks' 12-inning win over High Desert in Game 1 of the South Division finals.
"I really wasn't thinking about much," Aplin said. "I was just trying to go up there and hit the ball and put in on the barrel. They were just finding the holes tonight."
In his first professional season, the Arizona State product hit .348 in 44 games for short-season Tri-City before being promoted to Lancaster in early August. He batted .260 in the Cal League, at one point hitting safely in 13 consecutive games and scoring a run in 10 straight.
Aplin's big game came one night after Delino DeShields Jr., Jiovanni Mier and Domingo Santana each reached base three times and scored twice in a 7-4 series-opening win. The top four batters in the JetHawks' order -- DeShields, Mier, Aplin and Santana -- have combined for 15 of the club's 24 hits in the Finals, driving in seven runs and scoring nine.
"It's been the biggest part [of our success]," Aplin said of the team's balanced attack. "Each night has been a different hitter's night. When one person isn't doing it, then a certain part of the lineup picks up the other and a certain hitter comes through with big at-bats."
All nine starters scored at least once and seven drove in runs, with designated hitter Telvin Nash homering and collecting four RBIs.
The 11 runs were the highest total of the playoffs for Lancaster, which has collected double-digit hits in six consecutive games.
Blair Walters (1-0) picked up his first postseason win, allowing a run on six hits over five innings. He struck out six without walking a batter.
Dustin Garneau went 3-for-3 out of the ninth spot in the order for the Nuts, driving in a run with a sacrifice fly and scoring the other on a passed ball.
Modesto starter Juan Gonzalez (0-2) was charged with six runs -- four earned -- on five hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings. He struck out one.