West Georgia Men’s Baseball League playoff preview
Published 9:45 am Saturday, July 29, 2023
The 2023 West Georgia Men’s Baseball League playoffs are almost upon us. The postseason is set to start with eight teams battling it out for the league title.
WOOD DUCKS VS. SPACE COWBOYS
The Wood Ducks, the regular season champions, will play the Space Cowboys in the first quarterfinals matchup. One of the main reasons for the Wood Ducks success is Jim Reed, who has hit .600 with six home runs and 14 RBIs on the season while also going 6-0 on the mound with a 2.69 ERA and is surely one of the candidates for the league MVP this season. The Wood Ducks as a team are hitting .450 with Drew Cantrell (.625) and Reed Tarleton (.609) leading the way for the team. The team also led the league in total home runs (22) with Reed leading the team with six and Korey Ison also chipping in with five. The Wood Ducks have won eight in a row and only suffered one loss on the season (12-5 to the Padres).
If the Space Cowboys are to pull off the upset, they will need to rely on quality offense from Hunter Mowers (.455, eight RBIs), Wyatt Frailey (.421 with two home runs and nine RBIs) and Kaleb White (.520 on base percentage). White will also have to have a quality showing as the mound as he has been the best pitcher for the Space Cowboys this season. The current Troup Tiger has thrown over eight more innings than any other player on the team and currently has an ERA of 4.27.
CUBS VS. DODGERS
Middle of the pack teams — the Cubs and Dodgers — will meet in another set of the quarterfinals. The Dodgers won the only regular season matchup between the two, 6-2 on July 25. It was a game that lasted only 2.5 innings and will not serve as a good barometer for the playoff matchup as the two teams barely got a chance to match up last time out.
The Cubs are led by former Point player Auston Wilson, who led the team in batting average (.625), hits (10) and tied for first in on base percentage (.667) and runs scored (11). He did all this while also making four appearances on the mound. Austin Manning led the team with five appearances on the mound, but the Cubs deployed 10 different pitchers this year with none reaching double digits in terms of innings pitched so who will start in the playoffs remains a bit of a mystery. Trent Sheppard and Jabari Smith will also be key figures offensively as they both hit .500 and led the team with nine RBIs apiece.
The Dodgers had players in and out of their lineup, but one thing they did have was some power hitting. Bo Halcomb, Damon Haskett and Antonio Evans Sr. all had three home runs each. Halcomb played in just four games but hit .700 with 10 RBIs and will be much needed if the Dodgers are to make a deep run. Haskett hit .312 with 12 RBIs while Evans Sr. hit .333 with 10 RBIs as both players showed they can do more than just hit the ball over the fence. Tay Williams pitched 17 innings, 11 more than anybody else on the team, and will likely get the start as his ERA of 2.47 is one of the best for a starter in the league.
YARD GOATS VS. PADRES
The Yard Goats just narrowly missed out on finishing atop the regular season standings, losing 8-4 to eventual regular season champions the Wood Ducks on June 26. The Wood Ducks, winners of six in a row, will be looking to get revenge over the Wood Ducks but cannot overlook their quarterfinal opponent, the Padres.
The Yard Goat offense has been led by Cole Freeman this year, who leads the team with 18 RBIs and has a batting average north of .650. P Kennedy is another pivotal offensive figure, hitting .360 with three home runs and 11 RBIs. Chandler Lott and Cam Gosdin have seen the majority of time on the mound for the Yard Goats this season and both will likely see playing time in the playoffs. Lott pitched 20 innings with a 5.95 ERA while Gosdin pitched 13 innings and finished the regular season with a 1.62 ERA.
The team has also shown a knack for stealing bases, swiping a total of 43 while being caught stealing just three times.
The Padres and Yard Goats matched up just once this season, a 26-6 whalloping in favor of the Yard Goats. But that game was on July 11 and the Padres will be looking to flip the script in their second matchup this season. Kevin Caudill led the team with 10 RBIs this season while hitting .296 and can pitch in relief as well. Ryan Gadja and Austin Rushton are the team’s top two pitchers and will need season best performances from whichever gets the start on the mound if the Padres are to pull off the upset. Dalton Wilder will be one of the players to watch for the Padres as he hit .520 this season with nine RBIs.
BULLS VS. BANANA PEELS
While the Bulls finished the regular season slightly higher in the standings than the Banana Peels, it was the Peels that won the only matchup between the two so far this season, beating the Bulls, 14-2, back on June 28.
The Bulls have won four of their last five games since that loss and will be looking for revenge come next week. League commissioner Cory Matticola has put together another fine season, hitting .500 with five home runs and 13 RBIs. Despite playing in just six games, Colby Williams put together a monster season, hitting .800 with four home runs and 10 RBIs. Colton Webb is another figure that the Banana Peels will have to be wary of as he led the team with 14 runs scored in large part because his on base percentage is a smidgen above .750. Webb has also seen the most innings of work on the mound of the Bulls (16) and finished with a 5.25 ERA. Curtis Grant will also likely see some time on the mound as he finished second on the team in innings pitched with 14.
The Banana Peels will also come into this game riding high, having won their final two regular season games by a combined 15 runs. The team will be led into the playoffs by Noah Hobson, a candidate for the league MVP this season. He finished the regular season with five home runs, 21 RBIs, 12 runs scored while hitting .655. Not content with just being a potent offensive threat, Hobson also led the team in innings pitched (20). N Boger will also be a pivotal figure in the Banana Peels playoff run as he finished the season hitting .429 with 11 RBIs and 11 runs scored. Boger was also second on the team in innings pitched (15 1/3).