Even with his team on the brink of elimination, Mike Gerber felt comfortable at the plate and that kept his team alive in the postseason.
Detroit's No. 19 prospect went 3-for-4 with the go-ahead RBI as Class A West Michigan edged Cedar Rapids, 2-1, on Sunday at Perfect Game Field to force a decisive Game 5 in the Midwest League Championship Series.
"I don't think I was putting too much pressure on myself. I think if you end up doing that in these tight games, you're not going to be very successful," Gerber said. "So my approach through this whole playoff stretch is just [to] go out there, have some quality at-bats and have some fun."
In the fifth inning, David Gonzalez singled to left field off Kernels starter Randy Rosario (0-1). Ross Kivett walked and A.J. Simcox tied the game with an RBI single to first base. The No. 3 hitter stepped in the box with runners at the corners and belted a single to second base that scored Kivett.
"I was just looking to square the ball up, put a good swing on it. I felt really comfortable at the plate. He threw me a fastball, first pitch and I squared it up. I wasn't trying to get a hit per se, just trying to hit the ball hard," the 23-year-old Creighton product said. "It felt great. Everything these guys have worked for this year, it's come down to these last few games. Any chance we can get to score runs, especially in these tight playoff games, we're going to take advantage of it."
Whitecaps starter Jeff Thompson (1-1) kept the game close after allowing a run on six hits and a walk while striking out three in five frames.
"He threw great today again. Earlier in the playoffs, he had a no-hitter going into the sixth," Gerber said. "He's really pitched well as of late and guys have really enjoyed playing behind him."
The bottom of the ninth began reminiscent of the night before with Cedar Rapids down a run and threatening with the heart of the order coming up. With two outs and bases loaded, Joe Jimenez came on and struck out Brian Navarreto to pick up his third postseason save.
"It's not how we would've liked to draw it up. But yesterday not going our way, I think we learned a couple things after going through that and we made the adjustment," the right fielder said. "So that's the most important thing is getting the win and that's what we did."
The Midwest League Finals were pushed to five games for the first time since Lake County and Clinton battled and the Captains emerged victorious in 2010. First pitch is set for 7:35 p.m. ET on Monday at Cedar Rapids.
"That was our goal [Sunday] and we were able to accomplish it. You go into a Game 5 and really anything can happen," Gerber said. "The games that you played before, they don't matter at all. It's winner-take-all. I think the guys are really excited and we're ready to have some fun."