The Lakewood BlueClaws face the Hickory Crawdads (Rangers) in the South Atlantic League playoffs that begin tonight in Hickory. The Crawdads appeared to be on their way to winning the first-half division title this season, holding a 4 1/2 game lead on Lakewood with 21 games remaining, but a 16-5 run by Lakewood gave them the division title and a guaranteed spot in the post-season.
Lakewood also took the second-half crown, becoming the first team since Capital City in 2004 to win both halves of the season. Hickory advanced by having the second-best overall record in the division, setting up the first round playoff contest.
For Lakewood, the 2010 season was mainly about pitching. The club finished the year with a 3.04 team ERA, the lowest in the minors and the lowest in franchise history. They also led the SAL in wins (84) and strikeouts by their pitching staff (1207) this season.
Wednesday at Hickory: Trevor May (7-3, 2.91) vs. Neil Ramirez (10-8, 4.43)
Friday at Lakewood: Brody Colvin (6-8, 3.39) vs. Robert Erlin (6-3, 2.12)
Saturday at Lakewood (if necessary): Jonathan Pettibone (8-6, 3.49) vs. Jacob Brigham (6-5, 3.36)
The BlueClaws are trying to become the first team since Savannah in 1993 and 1994 to win back-to-back South Atlantic League titles. If they advance past Hickory, they would face the winner of the Savannah and Greenville matchup. If they face Greenville, it would set up a rematch of last year’s South Atlantic Championship series, which would be a first rematch in South Atlantic League history.
Lakewood already has two SAL titles to their credit and won each by going 5-1 in the postseason. It’s kind of eerie that Lakewood has repeated themselves in both postseasons (2006 and 2009). Both times, they swept the opening series two-games-to-none and then won the first two games of the championship series before losing game three and winning the series in game four.