By Madison Hricik
The South division wasted no time in the first round, knocking off No. 1 Charlottesville and No. 3 Harrisonburg in two-game sweeps. Next up, No. 2 Staunton and No. 4 Waynesboro will face off to decide who makes it into the championship series.
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The Braves needed the confidence a two-game sweep has, and they certainly delivered a performance against the Turks. Now with the home field advantage in Game 1, things are going to get better with the semifinals tonight.
Cole Ragone held the best batting average for the Braves with a .714, earning one run and four RBIs over the two games. Not too far behind was Ryan McCarty, who held a .500 with three runs, two RBIs and a homer. The two batters helped solidify the Staunton win this weekend, and will be crucial pieces to the team’s semifinals.
The pitching is where this team shined last weekend. On Sunday Reid Celata went a full six innings with two strikeouts, only allowing one hit for a 0.00 ERA. Relief pitcher Josh Emerson went three innings with three strikeouts for a 0.00 ERA as well. The combination of starting and relief pitchers made the Braves dangerous and ready for round two.
Knocking off the No. 1 TomSox, the Generals have the momentum in their court heading into the semifinals. In the comeback sweep, Waynesboro used not only its batting but its pitching to bring home the win and prepare for the Braves.
It only took one inning for the Generals to take over Game 1, all thanks to Stephen Wilmer, Max Weller and Michael Robinson sending back-to-back-to-back RBIs in the fifth inning to earn the lead. Heading into the semifinals, the batters will need even more power to take over the boxscore and move into the championships.
Similarly to the Braves, the pitchers stole the show. Bradley Wilson went 7.2 innings with five strikeouts for a 1.28 ERA on Saturday. Following up the showdown on Sunday, Elijah McCormack went 3.1 innings with five strikeouts for a 0.00 ERA.
We’re back to another series that truly goes either way. These two teams are very evenly matched and have the potential to win the series. The pitching alone could be a big factor in how long this series goes, but it all comes down to who comes home, right?
With how the momentum is flowing, Staunton has the best chance to win the series in the three games. It’s likely this series will only go two games, with Staunton taking the sweep with a 4-1 win.