By Madison Hricik
And up north we go! The north division gets their shot at the playoffs tonight, beginning with the Strasburg Express hosting the New Market Rebels. As the teams prepare to battle it out, who are ones to watch and what kind of series do we expect?
The Express have remained in the top three all season long. There was little doubt this team would make the playoffs, they clicked in Week 1 and haven’t looked back yet.
Leading the team at bat this week has been Eric Toth, sporting a .667 batting average for one run, three RBIs and a homer. Toth has had an electric week making contact at home plate and will be a huge advantage for the Express. Ryan Galanie is also one to watch, with a .450 average, three runs and four RBIs. Galanie has been a top prospect all season long, and with Toth on the rise the two batters are looking to cause some trouble.
Over on the hill, Donovan Burke stepped up last week pitching six innings with two strikeouts for a 1.50 ERA. Coming behind in relief, Geo Rivera went three innings with two strikeouts for a 0.00 ERA. This team has another deep and flexible bullpen, adding another aspect to why they’re dangerous.
New Market Rebels
This team is on a mission. The Rebels started the season out strong at bat, with nearly two weeks worth of 10-plus run games. Now holding the No. 4 seed, the Rebels are looking for an early upset to stay alive.
Taking the lead at bat this past week was Demetrio Rodriguez, holding a .500 batting average with five hits and an RBI. It’s hard to ignore Jackson Lancaster’s performance this season, with six homers, 22 runs and 23 RBIs for a .371 average on the season.
Marcelo Saldana and Reed Mascolo have led the team on the mound, with a 4.40 and 2.85 season ERA respectively. Saldana played last week and went 5.1 innings with five strikeouts for a 1.69 ERA. As for Mascolo, his season performance should be a good boost looking towards Game 1 tonight.
Both teams have strengths and weaknesses the other has exploited during the regular season, making it difficult to just assume it’ll be easy. Strasburg has found its hitting, while the Rebels have thrived off its pitching.
In the end, Strasburg will likely take the series in two games with the final score 7-4. The depth both teams have won’t make it easy, but the Express speed and teamwork will best the Rebels in the first round.