Laster powers Whitecaps past Lugnuts

West Michigan uses long-ball barrage to take Midwest playoffs opener

(Emily Smith/

September 5, 2007 8:16 PM ET

Jeramy Laster cracked a pair of two-run homers as visiting West Michigan bested Lansing, 6-2, in Game 1 of their Midwest League first-round series on Wednesday.

Laster's first homer snapped a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning. He sent another shot over the left-field fence in the eighth to give the Whitecaps (1-0) a 5-2 lead. The 22-year-old left fielder, whose 16 homers tied Ryan Strieby for the team lead in the regular season, was 3-for-22 over his previous five games. It was his first multi-homer game since Aug. 8 against Clinton.

West Michigan scored all its runs on homers. Scott Sizemore cranked a solo shot in the first and Strieby followed Laster's second blast with a drive over the center-field wall.

Whitecaps starter Duane Below (1-0) gave up two runs on four hits and three walks with seven strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings. The 21-year-old left-hander, who led the league with 160 strikeouts, entered the postseason having allowed only three earned runs over his last 37 innings.

Casey Fien fanned four and gave up one hit over the final 2 1/3 innings for his first postseason save.

Lugnuts starter Julio Pinto (0-1) surrendered three runs on six hits and one walk with six strikeouts in six frames.

Travis Snider belted a solo homer in the first and Jonathan Diaz drew a bases-loaded walk in the seventh for Lansing (0-1), which had won its last 14 at home.

Game 2 is Thursday at West Michigan's Fifth Third Ballpark.

Ryan McConnell is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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