ADELANTO • On the final day of the regular season, the High Desert Mavericks got their offense going early.
The Mavericks took an 8-1 lead after three innings and held off a late rally in a 9-8 win over Lake Elsinore in the season finale at Stater Bros. Stadium on Monday afternoon.
Shortstop Ketel Marte led off the bottom of the first with a triple off Storm (61-79, 33-37 second half) starter Johnny Barbato, and Kevin Rivers hit a one-out RBI single to get the Mavericks (64-76, 30-40) on the board. First baseman Jordy Lara hit a two-out, two-run homer, his third home run of the season, to give the Mavs a 3-0 lead.
The Mavs produced three consecutive base hits to begin the bottom of the second, with catcher Michael Dowd coming through with a two-run double that gave High Desert a 5-0 lead.
High Desert continued to attack Barbato in the third, with Guillermo Pimentel and Lara starting the frame with a single and double, respectively. Dillon Hazlett connected for a one-out, two-run double, and an infield single from shortstop Anthony Phillips capped off the scoring for the Mavs.
Marte, Pimentel and Hazlett all went 3-for-5, while Phillips went 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs.
The Mavericks ended the season with two straight wins, but fell just short of a playoff spot.
"It was good for us to be in the playoff race," Mavs manager Jim Horner said. "Sometimes when you're completely out of it in August, it's hard as a manager to keep the guys interested, not be selfish and play for their own numbers."
High Desert center fielder Jamal Austin didn't play Monday, but finished the season as the Cal League leader in runs scored (107), and fifth in the league in stolen bases (40).
Austin was a fixture at the top of the High Desert lineup throughout the season, taking over everyday leadoff duties after Chris Taylor was called up to Double-A Jackson on June 19. In 126 games for the Mavericks this year, Austin hit .288 and led the Mavericks in hits (150).
"It was a good season, now we'll try to come back next year and do it again," Austin said. "It's good that we won these last two games. It shows we were still playing."
Right fielder Rivers led the Mavs in games played, appearing in 128 games. Rivers ends the season as the Mavericks' leader in home runs (20), RBIs (97), doubles (36), total bases (250) and walks (66). Rivers' 97 RBIs were second in the California League this season, behind only Lancaster's Andrew Aplin (104).
Austin, Rivers and Phillips are the only three players to appear in at least 100 games for High Desert this season. Phillips appeared in 124 games and ends the year with a .262 average.
Third baseman Pat Kivlehan was one of the most productive players in the High Desert lineup after being called up from Single-A on June 20.
The former Rutgers football star put together the longest hitting streak in the Cal League this season, with a 25-game streak from July 25 to August 22. Kivlehan played 68 games for High Desert, finishing third on the team in RBIs (59) and hitting .320 with 13 home runs.
Story courtesy of the Daily Press