Playoffs finalized as Vancouver wins tiebreaker

A four-run sixth inning propelled the visting Vancouver Wildcats to a 7-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Cobras in the North League wildcard tiebreaker, finalizing the 2019 PGBL playoff picture.

Oakland and London enter the postseason as each league’s top seed. The Athletes will face St. Louis in the SLDS, while the Arsenal open the NLDS against Vancouver. The other first-round matchups pit division rivals against each other: Chicago and Boston in the North, and Dublin and Louisville in the South.

The first-round South League pairings are a rematch from last season, when Louisville and Oakland advanced to the SLCS and the Long Rifles won the pennant in a six-game series. Chicago and Vancouver are the only North teams returning from last season’s playoffs after both teams lost in the Division Series a year ago.

The Cardinals, seeking a league-record seventh championship, extended their streak of making the playoffs to 15 seasons. With the tiebreaker win, the Wildcats earned their third straight NL wildcard after suffering first-round losses to the Roughnecks in each of the past two years.

The Long Rifles franchise is also seeking its seventh title, but its first since Charlotte won in 1999. Dublin, SL champion two years ago, is seeking the franchise’s third title overall but first since 2008 as Key West.

Oakland, making its fourth playoff appearance in five seasons, is seeking its first title after winning pennants in 2016 and 2010, the latter as Taiwan. St. Louis won the crown in 2015 and has qualified for the postseason 12 times in the past 15 seasons.

London, which won consecutive World Series as Toronto in 2000-01, is in the playoffs for just the second time as the Arsenal (2012). Its matchup with Vancouver is the first postseason meeting between the Maple Leaf rivals.

Chicago and Boston met in the first round in 2017, a four-game win by the Cardinals on their way to the championship. The Braves and Wildcats have never won the title but have one pennant apiece: Boston in 2004 and Vancouver (as the Calgary Flames) in 1991. However, current Wildcats management has never reached the World Series.

Vancouver ace Chris Sale allowed two earned runs and struck out seven over six innings to earn the tiebreaker victory. Trade deadline acquisition Gregory Polanco broke a 2-2 tie with an RBI double off Nick Pivetta and Vancouver added RBI singles by Didi Gregorius and Jean Segura, with a fourth run scoring on an error.

Pittsburgh led 2-1 after three innings on a homer by Justin Upton and an RBI single by Manny Machado, although Nick Markakis was thrown out trying to score a second run on Machado’s hit. Vancouver tied it in the top of the fourth on a homer by Gregorius that chased Cobras starter Zach Eflin.

Shane Carle faced the minimum nine batters in a three-inning save, allowing just a leadoff single to Machado in the ninth before Ronald Acuna Jr. popped out and Anthony Rendon grounded into a game-ending double play.

With the regular season officially over, the first 12 picks of the draft are set with defending champion Calgary claiming the first position in each round (although Memphis owns the Roughnecks’ first overall selection).

Roughnecks win first World Series title

The Calgary Roughnecks won their first PGBL Championship in an epic wild seven-game World Series over the Louisville Long Rifles, with Kyle Hendricks outdueling Max Scherzer in a 1-0 thriller in Game 7.

Marwin Gonzalez’s third-inning homer off Scherzer accounted for the only run in the finale, capping a series that opened with a wild 21-inning win by Louisville. Gonzalez hit .448 for the series to win MVP honors.

Calgary advanced to the finals by beating Vancouver in a four-game first round North League series and outlasting Ottawa through five games of the NLCS. Louisville won the South League pennant with playoff wins over Dublin and Oakland.

In the deciding game, Hendricks held the Rifles to three hits while striking out 11 in seven innings, while Scherzer had 10 Ks and scattered eight hits in 6 2/3.

After Adam Warren allowed a one-out single to Elvis Andrus in the eighth, Brandon Morrow got the final five outs for the Roughnecks with Jonathan Schoop lining out to right fielder Chris Owings to trigger the celebration at Minute Maid Park.

 

 

 

 

Stage set for more PGBL postseason history

The two-time defending champions; the reigning South League pennant winners; a first-round rematch of division rivals; and four teams that missed the field a year ago.

The 2018 PGBL playoff field features eight teams that all finished at least 10 games above .500 and have accounted for 17 World Series titles.

The Oakland Athletes hold the No. 1 overall seed for the second time in three seasons, rebounding from the league’s worst record a year ago. The Athletes open the postseason against the similarly resurgent St. Louis Clydesdales, who managed a mere 55 victories in 2017.

The two-time reigning champion Chicago Cardinals will be seeking their seventh championship when start their latest title defense against the Ottawa Argonauts, who return to the postseason after a one-year layoff.

The other North League pairing features a rematch of Maple Leaf Division rivals as the top-seeded Calgary Roughnecks entertain the Vancouver Wildcats. Calgary, which closed the regular season with eight straight wins, took last year’s opening series in four games.

The Dublin Guinness, defending SL champs and the league’s only repeat qualifier, battle the Louisville Long Rifles, who like Chicago are seeking their seventh championship – but their first since 1999.

Oakland is one of three teams in the field to never win the championship. The Roughnecks are the only one of the eight to never win a pennant, while Vancouver’s only NL crown came in 1991 – when the club was still in Calgary.

Carpenter, Britton send Cardinals past Dublin for crown

Cardinals champions 2017

Matt Carpenter broke a ninth-inning tie with a two-run home run and Zach Britton induced three ground ball outs in the bottom half as the Chicago Cardinals earned a 4-2 victory over Dublin in Game 6 to win their sixth PGBL World Series Championship.

Britton, who saved Chicago’s first three wins and did not allow a run in the series, struck out two in two innings for the victory and was named the MVP.

The Cardinals were held scoreless into the eighth inning by Guinness starter Marcus Stroman until Carpenter’s two-out homer cut Dublin’s lead to 2-1. After Mike Trout reached on a Stroman error, Kenley Jansen walked three straight batters to force in the tying run.

In the ninth, Giancarlo Stanton hit a one-out double off Brad Hand and Carpenter sent a 2-0 pitch over the center field wall to give Chicago the lead.

The Cardinals built a 3-0 series lead before Dublin won Games 4 and 5 on the road to send the series back to Wrigley Field.

Playoffs bring abundance of storylines, excitement

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Four teams with a combined 12 championships and four seeking their first title comprise a 2017 PGBL playoff field that features three 100-win teams and two division rivalries in the first round.

The defending champion Chicago Cardinals open their quest for a sixth crown and 12th North League pennant as the league’s top seed against Norris Division foe Boston. The Braves eclipsed 90 wins for a second straight season after totaling just 66 in the prior two years.

Overall┬átop seed Dublin’s prize for winning 121 games and the Confederate Division crown is a first-round South League matchup with the upset-minded Flagstaff Elk, who are making their first postseason appearance since 2010 and third overall. The Guinness are seeking the franchise’s third overall title but its first since relocating from Key West.

Three-time champ Memphis won 118 games but will go on the road for its series opener with two-time winner Tijuana. The Melee last made the playoffs in 2012 when they lost a tight five-game division series to the Tequila Swiggers, who went on to a repeat crown.

In the other NL matchup, the tense season-long Maple Leaf Division rivalry between Vancouver and Calgary continues after both teams finished the regular season at 92-60. The Roughnecks held the tiebreaker and sealed home field advantage by beating the Wildcats in the first two of their season-ending four-game matchup on the road. Both teams are seeking their first World Series appearance in their current location.

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