Pedro Cotto went 4-for-5 with two RBIs as West Michigan defeated Lansing, 8-2, on Sunday to earn a spot in the Midwest League Championship Series.
After Michael Hernandez's RBI single tied the game in the second inning, 1-1, Cotto chased him home with a double and gave the Whitecaps the lead. Cotto's run-scoring single highlighted a three-run fifth which gave the Whitecaps a 6-2 lead.
"I felt relaxed at the plate," Cotto said. "I just tried to pick a good pitch to hit and I got very lucky."
The 24-year-old first baseman batted .278 in 108 regular-season games for the Whitecaps. He's looking forward to the finals, where his team will face the winner of the Kane County-Beloit series.
"We have to come with the same intensity," Cotto said. "Whatever team we play, it'll be a good series."
West Michigan's Mark Haske and Justin Justice also had RBI singles in the fifth and Michael Hollimon belted a solo homer in the eighth, his second blast in two days and fourth of the playoffs. Four batters later, William Rhymes closed out the scoring with a run-scoring double.
Whitecaps starter Matt O'Brien (1-0) allowed two runs on five hits in six-plus innings, striking out seven and walking three. The 24-year-old right-hander went 8-1 for Class A Short-Season Oneonta and 3-1 for the Whitecaps.
Following O'Brien's exit, Jose Fragoso, Ricky Steik and Anthony Claggett each tossed a hitless inning for the Whitecaps, who defeated Lansing, 9-3, on Saturday.
"I wasn't expecting to win two straight games," Cotto said. "They have a really good team. Our pitching was outstanding in both games."
Jesus Gonzalez slapped an RBI single in the second and Yuber Rodriguez's run-scoring base hit forged a 2-2 tie in the fourth for Lansing.
Trailing in the seventh, 6-2, Lansing opened with three straight walks to come within one swing of tying the game, but the next three batters were retired by Fragoso.
Lugnuts starter Sean Stidfole (1-1) surrendered six runs on six hits while striking out six and walking six over 4 2/3 innings. Jordan Timm walked two in two hitless frames and Paul Phillips yielded two runs in the eighth.
The Midwest League Championship Series begins Sept. 12.
Marc Jimenez is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.