The 2019 Powerline Baseball League playoff picture will come down to the final few games of the regular season schedule, just like the schedule maker wanted. Atop the standings the Holden Blue Jays and Rosalind Athletics will have an opportunity to be named Pennant Champions, while in the middle of the field, the Tofield Braves and the Camrose Roadrunners will fight for the last wild card berth for the right to join the playoff picture. What a great way to end the season.
The Pennant Race
The Armena Royals were cruising through the 2019 season, much like they did in 2018. However the road got just a little rocky for them a couple of weeks ago when they would tie the Edmonton Expos before losing to the Rosalind Athletics. Normally this would have been only a small blip on the radar, but in 2019, these mistakes, combined with an extra inning loss to the Axemen on Sunday July 7, have torpedoed the Royals chance at back to back Pennants. The race was just too tight atop the standings for any mistakes with the Holden Blue Jays putting up win after win all season and the Rosalind Athletics going on a nine game win streak after starting the season 2-3. Even if the Royals manage to tie the Holden Blue Jays in the standings with a pair of wins, the Jays will hold a run differential over the Royals to stake claim to home field advantage throughout the playoff picture.
Remaining games in the Pennant Race;
Rosalind Athletics at Edmonton Expos | Monday July 8
Rosalind Athletics at Holden Blue Jays | Tuesday July 9
Armena Royals at Leduc Milleteers | Tuesday July 9
Armena Royals vs Tofield Braves | Thursday July 11
Holden has been leading the PBL standings since June 23 and have continued to win. But so have the Rosalind Athletics and this is going to set up a great finish to the season if the A’s can get by the Expos on the road in Edmonton on Monday night. Looking ahead, if the A’s can win, they will set up a game for the Pennant on Tuesday night in Holden against the Jays. If the A’s win that game as well, they will find themselves one point ahead of the Jays for first place and would take on the Wild Card winner in the Semi-Finals. The Jays will need the Expos to defeat the A’s to clinch the Pennant or should the A’s and Expos tie (we have already had two this year), the Jays can still back into the Pennant with a loss to the A’s, as long as it is not by seven or more runs.
The Pennant seems to be more important that ever this season as the PBL became very tiered in the standings. The Jays, A’s and Royals sitting atop the standings for most of the season, the Expos locked into fourth place for much of the final month of the season and then until recently the Tofield Braves, Camrose Roadrunners, Camrose Axemen and Leduc Milleteers fighting below .500 for the final Wild Card berth. As decided by the PBL when the Wild Card Game was introduced in 2018, the Pennant winner will get to play the Wild Card Game winner at most, two days later in game one of their semi-final series. A huge advantage this year with the standings discrepancy between the top three and the Wild Card seeds.
On Monday night at Empire Park (July 8), the Rosalind Athletics put an exclamation point on their recent hot streak with a big 13-3 win over the fourth place Edmonton Expos. The gives up the match-up fans want on Tuesday night, the A’s at the Holden Blue Jays for the Pennant. The winner gets to play the Wild Card Game winner and the loser will have to take on the defending champion Armena Royals in the first round. Fans should expect both the Jays and Athletics to have all hands on deck and to throw everything they can at each other with playoffs not scheduled to start until next week. Giving an ace enough time to be ready for game one of a semi-final series or for the entire pitching staff of the Rosalind Athletics to rest before their first playoff game.
The Wild Card Race
At times it seemed like no one wanted to take the Wild Card race as the Camrose Axemen, Camrose Roadrunners, Leduc Milleteers and Tofield Braves all limped through the second half of the season continuing their sub .500 ways. No one was able to put together a winning streak of any kind to stake their claim to the final Wild Card berth. Slowly teams fell off. First the Leduc Milleteers ended their Wild Card hopes with a forfeit loss to the Rosalind Athletics before the Camrose Axemen had to forfeit their game against the Edmonton Expos, ending their playoff hopes. That leaves the Roadrunners and Braves as the two teams left fighting for one Wild Card berth.
The Roadrunners were soundly defeated by a score of 17-2 on Sunday night in Rosalind while the Braves may have earned the final Wild Card berth with their last win, July 4th, which came against the Roadrunners. Tofield will play the Expos and the Armena Royals to finish off their schedule while the Roadrunners will have a game against the Leduc Milleteers which is a make-up game from a previous rainout. If the Braves cannot beat Edmonton (in Tofield) and Armena (at Anniversary Park) and the Roadrunners can end their schedule with a win vs Leduc (in Camrose), we will see the Roadrunners secure their first Wild Card berth. The Braves are currently 0.5 games up on the Roadrunners meaning they will clinch the Wild Card berth and travel to Edmonton if they can win one out of the final two games.
The odds are stacked against the Roadrunners, but it is the PBL and anything can happen.