Oregon & Washington, Aug. 12—As the final week of the West Coast League’s regular season dawned, four teams were still squarely in the hunt for the South Division’s second playoff spot, which this season goes to the team with the division’s second-best overall record (as the Corvallis Knights have locked up the best record in both halves of the season).
Seventy-two hours later, and with every team now playing just one more regular-season game, the playoff picture is not quite as opaque as it was … but close.
Wednesday night, the Portland Pickles entered their game against the host Port Angeles Lefties with control of their own fate: win Wednesday and Thursday night, and that playoff spot would be theirs.
After a wildly dramatic, topsy-turvy, 15-inning victory over the Lefties, the Pickles are halfway there. That win, combined with the Ridgefield Raptors’ loss in Walla Walla, leaves the Pickles with a one-game lead over both the Raptors and the red-hot Bend Elks (who remain in contention after a convincing win in Corvallis).
Meanwhile, Wednesday night the plucky Cowlitz Black Bears fell out of the race in heartbreaking fashion, dropping an 11-8 decision in 10 innings to the playoffs-bound Bellingham Bells.
So if the Pickles win tonight, they’re in.
If the Pickles lose, though?
We outlined the tiebreakers earlier this week, but things are simpler now, so let’s look at every possibility…
– Portland grabs that last playoff spot if a) they win, or b) they lose, but Bend also loses (regardless of Ridgefield’s result);
– Ridgefield gets the last playoff spot if they win, Portland loses, and Bend wins (in the applicable two-team tiebreaker, Portland has edge over Ridgefield, so Ridgefield needs a three-team tie, in which case they win a different tiebreaker);
– Bend captures the last playoff spot if they win, Portland loses, and Ridgefield loses.
Finally, in other news the Knights’ loss to Bend left them with a still-sterling 37-10 record. If they win Thursday night, they’ll set a new West Coast League record for single-season winning percentage (.792), breaking the record (.778) they set just two years ago. But to break their own record, Corvallis will have to beat an Elks team fighting for their postseason life.
It’s all going to make for tremendous drama that you can follow on the teams’ websites, or via the West Coast League’s scoreboard page. And of course the playoffs kick off Saturday night, with Bellingham hosting the Yakima Valley Pippins in Game 1 of the North Division series, and Corvallis visiting … well, the Knights won’t know where they’re going until late Thursday night!
About the West Coast League: The West Coast League is the West’s premier summer collegiate baseball league. Encompassing Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and now Alberta, the WCL showcases pro prospects from major collegiate conferences around the nation. Every summer, the league features unparalleled fan and player experiences, with North America’s best baseball weather and a mix of classic ballparks and dramatic scenery. The 2019 MLB amateur draft began with former Corvallis Knight Adley Rutschman selected with the overall No. 1 pick by the Baltimore Orioles. Also in 2019, 317 WCL alumni were active in affiliated professional baseball, including 45 in the major leagues, while overall attendance in the West Coast League increased to nearly half a million fans.