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Wood Bat League: Day 16

The regular season is now over and today is the first day of the playoffs. The top two teams (Marauders and Manatees) have “byes” to the semi-finals where they will meet the winners of today's quarterfinal matchups. The third seeded Lightning took on the sixth seeded Seadogs while the fifth seeded Hurricanes faced the fourth seeded Conquistadors.

The Lightning were heavily favored to beat the Seadogs, especially after this weekend. The same teams matched up this weekend and the Lightning beat the Seadogs by 12 runs. More bad news for the Seadogs was that Mack Meyer would be the starting pitcher for the Lightning. He had an impressive 2.77 ERA in the summer with over 30 innings pitched. However, the Seadogs had their ace on the mound in Travis Connolly. Connolly has pitched almost 40 innings this summer and leads the Seadogs in victories.

In the other matchup the Conquistadors sent Connor Andrews to the mound who has a 3-0 record with a stellar 1.98 ERA. He only has six walks in almost 30 innings pitched and has been consistent for the Conquistadors all summer. Andrews opponent would be Sawyer Wilson who has logged the most innings for the Hurricanes and boasts a 2.73 ERA.

Travis Connolly pitched the game of the year for the Seadogs as he shut down the Lightning for the majority of the morning. Mack Meyer fought but could not keep the Lightning in the game. In the second inning the Seadogs took the lead and would not give it back. Travis Connolly led the charge with a double. Later a pair of singles by George Martin and Hudson Kuras gave the Seadogs the lead. Kuras recorded the RBI. Another run scored on an error and the Seadogs settled at two runs in the top of the second inning.

The Lightning scored their lone run in the bottom of the second after Gregorio Morales and Josh Cooper walked. Marshall Hayden manufactured the run on a groundout to shortstop with the infield playing back. After two complete innings, the Seadogs led 2-1.

The Seadogs tacked on a run in the fourth because of fielding errors to make the score 3-1. They continued to attack in the fifth and gave themselves a comfortable lead. In the fifth, Franklin Paulino and Takahiro Inoue singled to put runners on. Trevor Peterson singled in one run and Luke Miller walked with the bases loaded to record another RBI.

The Seadogs recorded one more run in the seventh to secure their lead at 6-1.

One of the only bright spots for the Lightning was their second recorded triple play of the season. Cas Dean threw to first on a ground ball to record the first out and the second out was recorded at second because the runner was leaning towards third a little bit too much. He tried to scamper back to second but was tagged out. When the throw went to second the runner on third took off for home and was thrown out to end the inning and give the Lightning some momentum.

Even though the Lightning did well in the field, they could not figure out Travis Connolly. Connolly pitched a complete game and limited the third seed Lightning to only one run. He walked five and scattered five hits to propel the Seadogs into the semi-final against the Marauders.

In the other quarterfinal, the Conquistadors jumped on the Hurricanes early and never relinquished the lead after posting two runs in the bottom of the first. Connor Andrews picked up the win and had another brilliant pitching performance. The Hurricanes pulled within one in the third but the Conquistadors scored immediately after to keep their two run lead. From that point, the lead only got bigger as the Conquistadors scored in the bottom of the fifth and sixth. Both of the semi-final scores ended up being 6-1 as the Conquistadors advanced to play the Manatees in the semi-final game.

The Seadogs advance to face the top seeded Marauders in the semi-final. Although the Marauders finished 12 games ahead of the Seadogs in the regular season, a Seadogs victory in the semi-final would eliminate the Marauders and put the Seadogs in the championship game. For that to happen the Seadogs need a top of the line performance against a team who has only lost three games all summer.

The Conquistadors will take on the Manatees in a much more even battle. The Conquistadors finished only three and a half games back of the Manatees. Anything can happen in the playoffs; and with only four teams remaining, it will only takes two wins to win the 2010 IMG Wood Bat League championship.

Travis Connolly as the Seadogs pitcher could not be stopped
Travis Connolly as the Seadogs pitcher could not be stopped

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