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Skelton, Whitecaps sweep Silver Hawks09/09/2007 10:16 PM ET
By Steve Conley
James Skelton delivered a go-ahead two-run double as West Michigan edged South Bend, 6-5, on Sunday to return to the Midwest League Finals.
Trailing in the fourth inning, 4-3, Brandon Timm reached on a fielder's choice, Audy Ciriaco singled and Gorkys Hernandez walked to load the bases. South Bend starter Chase Christianson uncorked a wild pitch and Timm raced home with the tying run before Skelton ripped a two-run double to put West Michigan on top.
"I got behind in the count, 1-2. I was looking for a pitch on the outside half and I got a fastball that I was able to hit to right-center," said Skelton, who is hitting .353 in the playoffs.
After posting the best record in the league during the regular season, West Michigan has won all four playoff games. The Whitecaps will face the Beloit Snappers in the best-of-5 championship series.
"This is a great momentum-builder for us," said Skelton. "Our pitching has been outstanding and if we play the way we've played all year, it's going to be tough to beat us."
Skelton went 3-for-3 with two walks and Brennan Boesch went 2-for-5 with a two-run single in the third after the Silver Hawks had taken a 4-0 lead.
"We didn't panic when we got behind," said Boesch. "We knew if we played the way we are capable of that good things will happen. The way we came right back after falling behind was big tonight."
"This is the first time in the playoffs for myself and a lot of the guys. It's really a blessing," added Skelton.
The Whitecaps have captured the Midwest League championship in four of the past 11 seasons.
Charles Furbush (1-0) gave up four runs on six hits while striking out seven and walking two over 5 2/3 innings for the win. Kelvin Cedano recorded the final out in the sixth but yielded a run on two hits in the seventh. Phil Napolitan pitched two scoreless frames and Brett Jensen worked around a hit in the ninth, fanning one, to record his second postseason save.
Christianson (0-1) gave up six runs -- five earned -- on seven hits and four walks with two strikeouts over 4 2/3 frames.
Taylor Harbin went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and Steve Mena smacked a two-run double in the third for the Silver Hawks.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.