top teams falter in playoffs as battle for No. 1 comes to a head
chase for No. 1 in Perfect Game’s weekly ranking of the nation’s
Top 35 summer-league teams has largely been a two-team affair
throughout the 2011 season. The Cape Cod League’s Hyannis Harbor
Hawks occupied the top spot most of the first half of the summer,
while the Coastal Plain League’s Edenton Steamers has held steady
at No. 1 for the last four weeks.
teams entered post-season play in their respective leagues on a high
note with Hyannis (29-15) easily posting the best overall record
during the regular season in the Cape, while Edenton (44-11) was an
impressive 25-3 over the second half of the Coastal Plain schedule.
each team suffered a critical loss—to a much lesser opponent, no
5-2 setback to the upstart Falmouth Commodores was enough to knock it
right out of the Cape Cod playoffs as the Commodores won the
opening-round, best-of-3 series, two game to one. Falmouth had limped
into the eight-team Cape playoffs with a lowly 19-25 record.
7-4 loss to a 29-27 Wilmington team wasn’t quite as costly as it
squared their best-of-3 semi-final series at a game apiece, with the
deciding game set for tonight in Edenton.
the No. 1-ranked Steamers haven’t been as dominant in the playoffs
as they were in the regular season in the Coastal Plain League. They
squeezed by the eighth-seeded Peninsula Pilots in the opening round
of the playoffs by coming from behind both times to win two
hard-fought, extra-inning games—10-8 in 10 innings and 7-6 in 14
innings. And Wilmington has given Edenton all it can handle.
Hyannis effectively eliminated from the chase for No. 1 and Edenton
not proving as invincible as it was earlier in the season, it has
opened the door for other contenders for the designation of the
nation’s top summer-league team. The obvious beneficiary appears to
be the Cal Ripken League’s Bethesda Big Train, which has already
completed its 2011 season.
Big Train (36-9) ran through the regular season in the Cal Ripken
League and clinched its third straight league title with a playoff
sweep. It moved from No. 3 a week ago to No. 2, supplanting Hyannis.
Edenton continues to hang on to the top spot.
West Coast League’s Wenatchee AppleSox has also positioned itself
for a run at No. 1. The new No. 3-ranked Sox (39-14) have dominated
that league all season, and would become a significant challenger for
an unofficial national champion if it should go on and win its third
straight West Coast League championship—most likely, though, only
if Edenton should falter in its drive to a CPL championship.
Hyannis, several other pretenders for the No. 1 spot fell from
contention over the last week with unexpected playoff losses. Among
the casualties were Newport of the New England Collegiate League and
Harrisonburg of the Valley League, and even Orleans of the Cape
League. Newport and Harrisonburg had posted the best records in their
respective leagues, while Orleans had finished first in the Cape’s
Eastern Division. All slipped up against sub-.500 opponents.
No. 1 team will be announced once all summer-league playoff rounds
are complete. The Northwoods League will be the last league to wrap
up its schedule as its regular season doesn’t even conclude until
Sunday, with two rounds of playoffs to follow.