Semis feature new and old matchups
Posted July 14, 2012
One series pits two franchises who died and came back to life to face each other for the first time ever. Another features two franchises who have quickly become annual diamond dance partners.
(1) Leduc Milleteers vs. (4) Bardo Athletics
Although the two teams didn’t meet in last year’s playoffs because Bardo lost a one-game playoff to the Ryley Rebels, Bardo and Leduc will meet for the fourth time in five years.
- 2008 – Bardo defeats Leduc 2-1 in semifinal
- 2009 – Leduc deaeats Bardo 2-1 in final
- 2010 – Leduc defeats Bardo 2-1-1 in semifinal
The regular season season series this season was swept by Leduc but the last two games were decided by just one run – including an extra inning affair and a three-run comeback by the Milleteers respectively.
It’s often said pitching wins playoff games so the perceived edge immediately goes to Leduc. However, the Athletics have the best offense in the league and have picked up some pitching help of late with Ray Lehman and Chris Mittelstadt returning to bolster the staff held up mostly by Ryan Oleson all season long.
The wild card in the playoffs remains the home records of everyone this season. No one had a winning record at home, including Leduc who went 4-4 but was undefeated on the road. Will having home field advantage actually be a disadvantage? Time will tell as the Leduc Milleteers look for a record fourth straight title.
(2) Ryley Rebels vs. (3) Armena Royals
Amazingly these two teams have never synced up for a playoff series in the last 13 years. When Armena was being born in the late 90s and early 2000s, the old Ryley Rebels often finished third or fourth as well, and then the Royals changed to the Axemen and the Rebels folded.
Once the Rebels and Royals resurrected in the late 2000s, Armena was in full rebuild after almost no Axemen had stuck around. The Rebels were good enough to make the playoffs so it has taken a bit to get to this point for the Royals.
Without much history besides some regular season games it will be hard to predict this showdown. Armena will rely on Joel Boettger (3-1) as they have done in the latter part of the regular season as well as a couple young arms in relief. Ryley will likely go with undefeated starter Craig Koughan (5-0). It will be interesting to see who both teams go with in game two. Will they go with veterans Donny Oslund and Jason Buzzell or roll the dice with Ian Sherbaniuk (2-2), Adam Johnson (1-1) for the Royals. Corey Epp (2-3) or Kris Kushnerik (1-0) and has had success against the Royals.
Both teams scored around 100 runs on the season but the Rebels have allowed way fewer. If they can shut down an Armena offence that has not found success much of late, then the edge could go to the more experienced and older Rebels. But they still have to play the games. It should be a good series either way.