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Whitecaps repeat in Midwest League

Eight-run fifth proves decisive in clincher against Snappers
September 16, 2007
The West Michigan Whitecaps won their second straight Midwest League championship Saturday, using an eight-run fifth inning to defeat the Beloit Snappers, 11-5, in Game 4 of the Finals.

Michael Bertram had three hits and two RBIs and Scott Sizemore went 3-for-5 with two runs scored for the Whitecaps, who won their fifth title in 14 years in the league. The only other franchise with more championships is the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who have won seven over 45 years, including their time as the Appleton Foxes.

Bertram led off the second with a triple before scoring on Gorkys Hernandez's sacrifice fly. He singled home Jordan Newton and Ryan Strieby in the fifth to give West Michigan a 9-5 lead.

The 23-year-old third baseman hit .251 during a trying season that included a leave of absence after his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. He said that the outpouring of emotion after he caught the final out was unlike any other he'd experienced.

"When I squeezed on that final out, six months of hard work, frustration, blood and sweat came out of everyone," Bertram said. "Even though we were on the opponents' field, we all made a dogpile on the mound. Our catcher [Newton] practically tackled [Casey Fien] on the mound, then one after another of our guys jumped on."

The Snappers committed five of their six errors in the decisive fifth. Third baseman Deibinson Romero, second baseman Steven Singleton and all three outfielders were charged with miscues.

"If any field in any league in any part of this country could cause that many errors in an inning, I'd pick Pohlman Field every time," Bertram said. "The field is so rocky and hard, especially in the outfield, so I'm not too surprised there were that many [errors]."

Whitecaps reliever Luis Marte (1-0) gave up two hits and struck out a season-high nine over five scoreless innings for the win. Casey Fien walked one and fanned three in two hitless frames. Starter Charles Furbush was tagged for five runs on five hits and a walk with three strikeouts in two-plus innings.

Romero lined an RBI single and Gregory Yersich delivered a bases-loaded triple in the third to give Beloit a 4-3 lead. Danny Santiesteban had two hits for the Snappers, who dropped the first two games in West Michigan before bouncing back to force a decisive Game 5.

Beloit reliever Dan Leatherman (0-1) allowed three unearned runs on one hit and one walk in one inning. Starter Alex Burnett was charged with three runs -- two earned -- on five hits with a pair of strikeouts in three frames.

Michael Echan is a contributor to