ADELANTO • With three games remaining in the regular season, the playoffs are still within reach for the High Desert Mavericks. Barely.
Lake Elsinore Storm starting pitcher James Needy gave up one run over five innings, and the bullpen held on to the lead in a 6-1 win over the Mavs at Stater Bros. Stadium on Saturday night.
The Mavericks (62-75, 28-39 second half) are now 1.5 games behind the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes for the final playoff spot in the South Division. The Quakes beat the Lancaster JetHawks 4-3 in 10 innings Saturday night. The Quakes' win eliminated the Storm (60-77, 32-35) from the playoff race. The JetHawks have clinched the division title, and Inland Empire will be the No. 2 seed.
The Mavericks end the season with three more games against Lake Elsinore, while Rancho Cucamonga finishes with two games against Lancaster. If High Desert and Rancho Cucamonga end the season tied in the overall standings, a one-game tiebreaker will be played at Stater Bros. Stadium on Tuesday.
"I think if we play good baseball, and we do all facets, we play defense and we pitch and we hit, I think it'll take care of itself," Mavs manager Jim Horner said of the playoff chase. "You just have to come out and compete tomorrow."
Mavs starting pitcher Scott DeCecco went 5 1-3 innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits. DeCecco tallied five strikeouts and gave up three walks in the loss.
"I thought (DeCecco) competed well," Horner said. "He didn't have the same command as he did in his last start, but I really thought he made some big pitches when he had to."
High Desert's lone run came on a solo home run from catcher Michael Dowd in the third inning, Dowd's third homer of the season. Needy gave up three hits, and relievers Kyle Lloyd, Cory Hebner and Brandon Alger combined to shut out the Mavs on two hits over the final four innings.
The game was knotted 1-1 going into the sixth when the Storm began to break through. Left fielder Jeremy Baltz led off the inning with a single, and DeCecco left the game after retiring Kyle Gaedele.
Lake Elsinore took a 2-1 lead on a one-out RBI triple from designated hitter Jeremy Rodriguez with reliever Blake Hauser on the mound. The triple started a string of four consecutive base hits by the Storm, capped off by an RBI double from first baseman Chris Burke that gave Lake Elsinore a three-run lead.
Burke added another RBI with a single in the eighth and finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Lake Elsinore produced five extra base hits, including three triples, a double and a home run. Baltz went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, and Rodriguez went 2-for-3 with a walk for the Storm.
The Storm and Mavericks play a doubleheader Sunday at Stater Bros. Stadium and finish up the season with a game Monday at 1 p.m.
"We'll find out a lot (Sunday) about the playoff situation," Horner said.
Story courtesy of the Daily Press