When High Desert Mavericks second baseman Kyle Seager stepped in to the batter's box in the top of the eighth inning to face San Jose Giants starter Justin Fitzgerald on Saturday, something had to give.
Seager was trying to extend his California League season-high hitting streak to 30 games. Fitzgerald was one out away for retiring his 22nd straight hitter and exiting with a 3-1 lead.
Seager won the battle when he took a first-pitch fastball back up the middle for a single. But Fitzgerald and the Giants won the war, holding for a 3-2 victory.
After a rough first inning that included a solid double, two wild pitches and three walks, the 24-year-old from Cloverdale, Calif., settled down and dominated the Mavs until finally surrendering a single to the hot-hitting Seager.
It was the second and last hit allowed by Fitzgerald (8-2), who struck out eight and walked three over eight innings. Jason Stoffel gave up a run on two hits in the ninth to preserve Fitzgerald's third win in four starts.
"In the first inning, I struggled a bit and I was a little frustrated," Fitzgerald said. "I had a couple of calls that didn't go my way, but the main problem was that I was getting under the ball and gripping my curveball too hard.
"I was pitching behind in the count and I had to move over to the left side of the rubber. Once I found my release point, things were a lot smoother."
After retiring Denny Almonte to end what could have been a disasterous opening inning, the right-hander set down the Mavericks in order six straight times and only allowed three balls out of the infield.
Fitzgerald struck out the first two batters he faced in the eighth before facing Seager, who said he wasn't thinking about the streak after flying out twice and grounding back out to the mound.
"It felt good. It was exciting, but you don't think about things like that in critical parts of the game, like when it is 2-1," said Seager, who's batting .421 (54-for-128 ) during the streak. "[Fitzgerald] was throwing his curve and change effectively and I just wanted to be aggressive early in the count.
"When I got to the bag, the first base coach congratulated me, but after a slight pause I was only concentrating about getting into scoring position."
While the single extended Seager's streak, it put an end to Fitzgerald's.
"I wouldn't say that I made a mistake [to Seager], the former 11th-round pick said. "It was a [first-pitch] or 1-0 sinker and he just put a good swing on it, and I tip my hit to him. Johnny [Monell] called a great game behind the plate and my defense helped me out all night.
"Every pitcher would be lying if they said that they didn't want to go back out in the ninth, but I had reached my pitch count. ... I think I threw 101 in the end."
While his first career complete game eluded him, Fitzgerald said he reached a different milestone that will set him up well for the remainder of the season.
"I wanted to get over 100 innings as a starter, which I think I did tonight, and I want to keep things simple," he said. "I want to finish strong for the rest of the season and give my team a chance to win."
The same can be said of Seager, whose streak is 15 games away from Cal League mark set last season by High Desert's Jamie McOwen.
"My goal is to keep hitting and to keep putting together professional at-bats," he said. "I just hope I can continue getting on base for the big guys in the middle of the order to help the team win.
"I'm only two-thirds of the way to [McOwen's] record. I still have a long, long way to go."
Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MLB.com.