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Padres' Lockett goes six strong as Peoria clinches West

MLB.com @JimCallisMLB

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Similar to the rest of his pro career, Walker Lockett's Arizona Fall League experience didn't go as well as he hoped at the start. But he battled through and came up with his best start of the season when it mattered most.

Lockett allowed just one run and three baserunners in six innings, leading the Peoria Javelinas to a 4-1 victory over the Scottsdale Scorpions on Wednesday night. Peoria (17-12) clinched the West Division with the victory and will play the Mesa Solar Sox (16-12-1) on Saturday for the AFL championship. MLB Network and MLB.com will broadcast that game live at 3 p.m. ET.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Similar to the rest of his pro career, Walker Lockett's Arizona Fall League experience didn't go as well as he hoped at the start. But he battled through and came up with his best start of the season when it mattered most.

Lockett allowed just one run and three baserunners in six innings, leading the Peoria Javelinas to a 4-1 victory over the Scottsdale Scorpions on Wednesday night. Peoria (17-12) clinched the West Division with the victory and will play the Mesa Solar Sox (16-12-1) on Saturday for the AFL championship. MLB Network and MLB.com will broadcast that game live at 3 p.m. ET.

Gameday

The Glendale Desert Dogs had won six straight games to stay alive in the West and keep the pressure on the Javelinas. Lockett said the division race was on his mind when he took the mound for his final Fall League start.

"If you don't like to win, then you're in the wrong sport," Lockett said. "If we're going to be here, we might as well win a ring."

After posting a 7.71 ERA in his first four starts for Peoria, Lockett allowed two runs in five innings last Thursday against Mesa and was even better against Scottsdale. He was able to spot his 87-88 mph cutter to both sides of the plate and set it up with a sinker that reached 94 mph, throwing 55 of his 84 pitches for strikes.

Lockett said he was pleased to finish the AFL on a positive note.

"Obviously the first couple didn't go the way I would have hoped," he said. "But it's definitely a good feeling going out on top with a couple of quality starts.

"Just feeling more comfortable as I went on, I was able to get into a groove. I'm the type of guy who, if I can stay ahead, keep hitters off balance, it's going to go good for me. I think I was able to do that in the last couple."

A fourth-round pick out of Providence High (Jacksonville, Fla.) in 2012, Lockett battled finger and shoulder injuries while going 4-7 with a 4.94 ERA and working just 118 1/3 innings over his first four seasons in pro ball. He cleaned up his mechanics and improved his sinker and cutter while racing from low Class A to Triple-A in 2016.

Lockett was starting to push for his first big league promotion this year at Triple-A El Paso when he hurt his back at the end of May. He made four rehab starts in Rookie ball at the end of the regular season, pitched well in the Pacific Coast League playoffs and joined Peoria to get some more innings.

Blue Jays outfielder Jonathan Davis and Padres No. 3 prospect Luis Urias provided most of the offensive support for Lockett against the Scorpions. Davis went 3-for-4 with two RBIs while Urias went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs and an RBI.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.