With an abbreviated 18-game regular season tucked in the books, the South Penn League is set to begin its new-look postseason. Gone are the traditional best-of-three and best-of-five series that cover three rounds of playoffs. Instead, the league is implementing a double-elimination tournament that will last just seven days, weather providing.
Action begins on Monday with first-round games including Brushtown (0-18) at Hanover (9-9) and Gettysburg (2-16) at North Carroll (4-14). The respective winners will move into Tuesday’s winner’s bracket.
South Penn newcomer Hagerstown claimed the top seed by virtue of a 15-3 regular season. The Braves will host either North Carroll or Gettysburg next Tuesday.
Three-time defending SPL champ Cashtown (14-4) earned the second seed over Shippensburg, which also posted a 14-4 mark. The Pirates welcome either Brushtown or Hanover to their field next Tuesday.
Also on Tuesday, Ship will host Littlestown (10-8) at 7 p.m. while New Oxford plays host to Biglerville in a game that will be contested at Brushtown. Both the Twins and Black Sox finished the regular season at 11-7.
Be it in a double-elimination tournament or a longer series, pitching tends to carry the day. The top three seeds appear to have an abundance of quality options at their disposal. Hagerstown offers Noah Allen, Brock Smith and Steven Ricketts as a formidable trio, while Ship’s staff is anchored by fireballer Todd Weldon, along with Brad Weber and Jordie Henry.
The Pirates don’t lack for horses as Chase King, Anthony Lippy and Josh Topper can match anyone inning for inning.
Needing four or possibly five victories in the span of a week to secure a championship, depending on if a team takes a detour through the loser’s bracket, the more arms the merrier. That gives the front three a leg up on the field, but doesn’t ensure a spot in the finals.
New Oxford, Biglerville and Littlestown could be contenders in a tourney where a hot team can make a run.
Games are scheduled to take place every day next week beginning on Monday, at the higher-seeded team’s home field. The championship is slated for 1 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 9. If necessary, a second game on Sunday would be played immediately following the 1 p.m. contest.