West Michigan may have lost the battle, but it won the war.
After dropping the final three regular-season meetings with Lansing, the Whitecaps defeated the Lugnuts, 6-3, on Thursday to sweep their Midwest League first-round playoff series.
"We rebounded and won two straight in the playoffs," said West Michigan manager Tom Brookens, whose team managed only six wins in 15 regular-season matchups with Lansing.
"What you've done previously against a team, you can throw out the window in the playoffs."
Gorkys Hernandez erased a 1-0 deficit with an RBI single in the third inning before scoring on James Skelton's double to give the Whitecaps the lead for good. Hernandez, who turns 20 on Friday, was named Midwest League Player of the Year after hitting .293 and stealing a league-best 54 bases.
"[Hernandez] has meant a great deal to the ballclub," said Brookens. "He's the best player in this league as far as a defensive center fielder."
Jeramy Laster, who homered twice in a 6-2 Game 1 victory, doubled and scored on Jordan Newton's sacrifice fly in the fourth. Ryan Strieby and Santo De Leon tacked on RBI singles in the sixth for West Michigan.
Whitecaps starter Matt O'Brien (1-0) allowed two runs -- one earned -- on seven hits in five innings. He did not walk or strike out a batter. Luis Marte gave up a run on two hits and a walk with five strikeouts over three frames before Brett Jensen yielded a hit and fanned two in a scoreless ninth for his first postseason save.
The playoff series win was the first of Brookens' three-year managerial career.
"It's very rewarding," said Brookens, who earned a World Series championship ring as a player with the 1984 Detroit Tigers. "There's nothing like winning in this game. When you're a manager, you want to see your players do the same thing."
Lansing starter Adrian Martin (0-1) surrendered five runs on seven hits while striking out four in 5 1/3 innings.
Travis Snider stroked run-scoring doubles in the third and seventh and Scott Campbell added an RBI single in the fifth for the Lugnuts.