MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Only one player on the New Hampshire roster was playing professional baseball in 2011, when the club last won an Eastern League title: Jon Berti.An 18th-round selection of the Blue Jays that year, he broke in with the Vancouver Canadians, who were led to a Northwest League
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Only one player on the New Hampshire roster was playing professional baseball in 2011, when the club last won an Eastern League title: Jon Berti.
An 18th-round selection of the Blue Jays that year, he broke in with the Vancouver Canadians, who were led to a Northwest League title by young upstart manager John Schneider.
On Friday night, Berti set the table for the Fisher Cats, going 3-for-4 with a stolen base, two RBIs and two runs scored to help complete a three-game sweep of Akron in the Eastern League Championship Series with an 8-5 win at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
Gameday box score
"I couldn't be happier for the season he had," said Schneider, the New Hampshire manager. "I love him. He's a grinder, man. He's awesome."
Berti was thrilled to win another league title with Schneider.
"We go back a long ways," the third baseman said. "It's a pleasure to play for him. As you can imagine from what everybody says, it's all true. I'd run through a wall for that guy."
The duo reunited earlier this year when Berti, who was traded to Cleveland in April, was returned to the Blue Jays organization two months later via a second trade.
"It's definitely been a roller-coaster type of year," the 28-year-old said. "But when I found out I was coming here and got to play for Schneids and play with these guys, it was an opportunity that I relished and was really excited about."
The move proved vital for both player and club, as Berti served the role of veteran leader, providing Schneider with someone who he could trust.
"Total pro," the New Hampshire manager said. "He picked us up when [Vladimir Guerrero Jr.] went down. Really, really unbelievable year for him."
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Berti hit .314/.399/.498 with 21 steals and eight homers in his fourth stint with New Hampshire -- his first time making the playoffs with the club. With the team one win away from the third championship since the Fisher Cats' inception in 2004, he came to the clubhouse with a message before Game 3.
"Fourth time around, I would love to get a ring," Berti told the team.
"I knew we had a lot of talent in this locker room. To be able to finish it off and do the job was fantastic."
Hitting out of the leadoff spot, Berti struck out in his first at-bat, but singled in each of his next three. His key hit came in the top of the fourth inning, when he drove in Santiago Espinal and Forrest Wall with New Hampshire's fifth and sixth runs.
Outfielder Harold Ramirez also plated two runs with a double and a sacrifice fly. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the playoffs, having totaled eight hits, four RBIs and eight runs scored over six games.
"You could give it to anybody," Schneider said of the MVP award. "It's such a team effort and Harold was a part of it, too. I'm really happy for him, the season he had, the series he had."
Cavan Biggio, Toronto's No. 9 prospect, slugged a home run in the fifth.
No. 28 Blue Jays prospect Jordan Romano, who pitched the clinching game versus Trenton in the semifinals, went 4 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out five. Danny Young picked up the win after allowing one run on one hit over two innings. He fanned a pair.
After going 3-5 down the stretch and losing their hold of the Eastern Division lead in the process, the Fisher Cats rattled off six straight wins in the postseason to bring the championship back to Manchester.
"It's really cool, especially how we finished," said second-ranked Blue Jays prospect Bo Bichette who hit .346 in the postseason. "We didn't lose a game. That's pretty cool."
Craig Forde is a contributor to MiLB.com.