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06/15/2008 12:07 AM ET
Captains steer way to North title
Pena hits go-ahead home run in clinching victory over Suns
Roman Pena is hitting .327 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 13 games in June. (John M. Setzler Jr./MLB.com)

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The Lake County Captains clinched their first playoff berth in five years on Saturday, topping the Hagerstown Suns, 7-3, at Classic Park to nail down the South Atlantic League first-half Northern Division championship.

The title came in Aaron Holbert's first season as a manager.

"At the beginning of the season, when I was asked what kind of team we had, I said we had pitching, defense and timely hitting, and we could win with that," said Holbert. "And that's what has happened.

"What these kids have done, how they've conducted themselves, every day trying to get better, it's amazing. They're a dream come true."

In the clincher, the Captains (41-28) got home runs from Roman Pena and Matthew Brown, a triple and two RBIs from Mark Thompson and a 3-for-3 night from Lucas Montero.

Reliever Josh Judy (7-0) struck out three over three hitless innings for the win.

Holbert said one of the keys this season has been the strong work of starting pitchers Kelvin De La Cruz (5-3), Ryan Miller (7-2) and Ryan Morris (6-1). All three hurlers are in the top 10 in the SAL in ERA, with De La Cruz leading with a 1.60 mark.

Pena leads the Captains in batting at .313, adding six homers and 48 RBIs. Brown, who's hitting .303, has four homers and 39 RBIs.

"This is my first year with the [Cleveland] Indians and first year as a manager and I've been selected to manage in the (SAL) All-Star Game. And these guys have done that," said Holbert, who played 23 games in the Major Leagues for the Cardinals and Reds. "I'm very thankful for the way they've played."

Bradley Meyers (2-2) gave up six runs -- three earned -- on six hits, fanning four and walking three, over four innings to take the loss.

Tim Pahuta, Aaron Seuss and Michael Burgess homered for Hagerstown (33-35).

Alan Friedman 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.