Mike Zunino's stay at Double-A was one week old when his Jackson team traveled southward for a five-game series at Mobile on Aug. 19. Zunino would hit his second Southern League homer and double in the set, but his Generals would drop three of the games.
"We knew when we went down there to play them," he said, "that we might see them again."
And because of Zunino, they will. The Mariners' fourth-ranked prospect hit his third postseason home run on Sunday in Jackson's 8-2 victory over host Chattanooga.
The Generals, which won their league best-of-5 semifinal over the Lookouts, 3-1, advance to the Championship Series for the first time in seven years.
Batting cleanup and catching, the third overall draftee in 2012 tagged a 3-1 hanging slider from Lookouts lefty reliever Wes Roemer in the eighth inning.
"Facing a guy with a lot of breaking balls," Zunino said. "I went up there to sit on one, and I got in a hitter's count and decided to stick to my gameplan."
Zunino, who also singled in his four at-bats, was just one piece of the puzzle. Three teammates -- center fielder Francisco Martinez, left fielder Chih-Hsien Chiang and third-baseman Nate Tenbrink -- recorded three-hit games. Tenbrink fell a triple short of the cycle.
The Generals tallied 18 total hits Sunday and ended the four-game series with 45 overall.
"Everyone seemed to be locked in and having quality at-bats," Zunino said. "Everyone switched into a different gear when the playoffs began."
Generals starter Anthony Fernandez (1-0) gave up two runs on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. Zunino, his batterymate, said the the 22-year-old left-hander had command of all his pitches.
Lookouts starter Andres Santiago (0-1) was charged with two runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings.
In other Southern League action:
Mobile 11, Montgomery 4
The BayBears punched their return ticket to the Southern League Finals with a second consecutive game with a double-digit run total. They scored a run in five consecutive innings.
Shortstop Chris Owings and second baseman Evan Freeman both recorded three-hit games, while middle-of-the-order sluggers Jonathan Griffin and Yazy Arbelo clubbed home runs.
On the mound, starter Michael Bolsinger (1-0) outdueled Biscuits right-hander Merrill Kelly (0-1), who gave up six runs on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings. Bolsinger was charged with four runs on five hits over 5 2/3 frames. Gameday box score