Ever since Harrisburg lost starting catcher Brian Jeroloman in a nasty collision at home plate in its playoff opener, the Senators have used his injury as added motivation.
On Saturday night, Jeroloman's roommate, Steven Souza, and the rest of the Senators moved one step closer to a championship.
Souza went 4-for-4 with three doubles, two RBIs, two stolen bases and two runs scored as Harrisburg beat Erie, 5-1, to advance to the Eastern League Finals.
The Senators took the best-of-5 Western Division series in four games and will face Trenton, which completed a three-game sweep of Binghamton on Friday.
Souza doubled in a run in the first inning and smacked another two-bagger to center field leading off the third. He beat out an infield hit in the fifth and doubled home another run in the seventh.
"It's exciting, man. Overjoyed with the opportunity to bring a championship ring to the organization," Souza said. "It's a thrill. It means a lot, especially for our catcher, Brian Jeroloman.
"Whenever something like this happens, you want to win for him and do something big for him. For me, especially, I've spent a lot of time with him and it was emotional and I'm happy that can maybe bring him some inspiration to get healthy."
Jeroloman was hospitalized following the series opener on Wednesday night when Brandon Douglas barreled into him trying to score from third on a ground ball to second base. He suffered a cut under his chin and remained in an Erie hospital through Saturday afternoon, where he was described as being in good condition.
"I have been texting him back and forth and he wished me luck and told me to have a big game tonight," Souza said. "We want to win a ring just for the season we've had. But when something like [an injury] happens, it's tragic and it's extra motivation. It's in the back of your mind."
The SeaWolves were unable to get much going against Nationals No. 7 prospect Robbie Ray (1-0), who allowed a run on three hits over 6 2/3 innings in one of his longest starts since moving up from Class A Advanced Potomac. He struck out six batters and walked two.
Tigers No. 3 prospect Daniel Fields drove in Erie's lone run with a fourth-inning double. Tyler Collins singled one out later to put runners at the corners, but Ray fanned James McCann and Wade Gaynor to preserve a 2-1 lead.
Harrisburg travels to Trenton for Game 1 of the best-of-5 Finals on Tuesday.