The High Desert Mavericks came from behind Wednesday night to take the 5-4 win over the Lake Elsinore Storm, allowing the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes to take sole possession of first place by one game.
All three teams — Storm, Mavericks and Quakes — are within a game of each other with three games remaining in the first half of the season. The team that wins the first half in its division receives an automatic bid and a first round bye in the playoffs.
Storm starter and Cal League All-Star Donn Roach had yet another superb outing, going six strong innings and allowing only one run on five hits. Roach gave up one walk and struck out seven batters on the night.
At the plate, the Storm jumped out to an early lead by way of Justin Miller. After a Chris Bisson single and a walk by Rico Noel, Miller singled, scoring both to give the Storm a 2-0 lead.
Miller advanced his batting average to .405 with the Storm and is in the midst of a five-game hitting streak.
The visiting Mavericks scored in the top of the fourth when Michael McGee doubled down the right field line, scoring first baseman Steven Proscia to cut the lead to 2-1.
After scoreless fifth and sixth innings by both teams, High Desert struck again in the top of the seventh. A lead-off triple by Mario Martinez set the tone for the visitors. He scored on the next play as James Jones singled up the middle to tie the game. A sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch put Jones on third, who scored on a sacrifice fly to left field for the 3-2 lead.
The Mavericks put themselves ahead 5-2 in the eighth inning when Kevin Rivers came in to pinch run and came all the way around scoring and McGee scored after singling with two outs.
The Storm matched the run production in the bottom of the inning with Miller again who came up big. After back-to-back singles by Bisson and Noel, Miller singled himself to right field scoring a pair ending the night going 2-for-4 with three RBIs, but the Storm was unable to capitalize in the ninth and fell a game out of first place.
The Storm now head to Bakersfield to face the Blaze in a three-game series. The last time these two met was back in May when the Storm captured the series and held high-flying top prospect Billy Hamilton to only two stolen bases.
The series begins at 7:45 p.m. on Thursday and will be the final series before the end of the first half and the California/Carolina League All-Star game held in Winston-Salem, NC on Tuesday, June 19.
Pitchers Donn Roach and Kevin Quakenbush along with Rico Noel, Cory Spangenberg and Rymer Liriano will all represent the Storm as All-Stars.
Coaches Bronswell Patrick, David Newhan and athletic trainer Will Sinon will be the coaching staff of the Cal League All-Stars.
*Contributed by the Lake Elsinore Storm