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Snappers stave off elimination in Midwest09/13/2007 11:34 PM ET
By Shane Figueroa
Facing elimination, host Beloit opened a big lead and held on for an 8-5 win over West Michigan on Thursday in Game 3 of the Midwest League Championship Series.
Joe Benson went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Garrett Olson homered as the Snappers scored eight runs over the first three innings to pull within 2-1 in the best-of-5 series.
The 19-year-old Benson, who hit .361 in his last 10 regular-season games, led off the first with a double and scored on Steven Singleton's base hit to left field. Gregory Yersich and Danny Santiesteban chipped in RBI singles later in the frame to give Beloit a 3-0 lead.
"Jumping on the scoreboard in the first inning was reassuring," said Benson, who's hitting .300 in the postseason. "Especially after losing one-run games in Games 1 and 2, it was important for our offense to take some pressure off the pitchers tonight. We were aggressive in attacking fastballs and turned them into not only singles, but some extra-base hits as well."
After Daniel Berg led off the second with a double, Benson dropped a bunt single down the third-base line and Singleton followed with his second run-scoring base hit. Deibinson Romero delivered an RBI single and Chirs Parmelee lifted a sacrifice fly before Rene Tosoni capped the four-run inning with an RBI double.
"Like a lot of teams, we play our best baseball at home," said Benson of Beloit's 51-21 regular-season home record. "We're comfortable here. We swing better here. We needed to establish those things early tonight."
After the Whitecaps struck back on Jeremy Laster's three-run double in the third, Olsen led off the bottom of the frame with his second homer of the series.
"With them scoring in the top half of the inning, I was trying to have an extended at-bat," said Olson, who slugged six homers and 50 RBIs during the regular season. "With the count 2-2, I fouled off two or three straight sliders, and the last one I felt like I should have hit hard. He threw another slider and, same location, and I didn't miss it."
Gorkys Hernandez and Michael Bertram ripped RBI singles in the fourth and fifth innings to chase Snappers starter Cole Devries, but three relievers combined to shut down West Michigan over the final 4 2/3 frames.
Danni Vais (1-0) pitched around two hits and fanned two over 2 2/3 innings and Dan Leatherman gave up a hit with a strikeout in the eighth. Anthony Slama struck out one with a walk in the ninth to notch his third postseason save.
"To see your relievers firing zeroes on the scoreboard is always uplifting," Benson added. "Every out they got us builds more momentum for us and we have to do those kinds of things here at home. [The Whitecaps] did their job by winning their home games and now we have to do the same."
West Michigan starter Matt O'Brien (1-1), who went 7-2 with a 2.19 ERA in the regular season, was tagged for seven runs on 10 hits and lasted just 1 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old right-hander went 4-0 with a 0.81 ERA in his last six starts and limited Lansing to two runs -- one earned -- on seven hits over five frames in the first round.
Lauren Gagnier allowed a run on two hits and a walk while striking out nine over 5 2/3 innings.
Game 4 is Friday in Beloit.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.