Central, Susquehanna leagues battle for playoff positioning heading down homestretch
- Jefferson leads the Central League with a 15-3-1 record.
- Windsor leads the Susquehanna League with a 15-3 mark.
- Only four teams will qualify for the Central League playoffs.
- At this time, eight teams are expected to qualify for the Susquehanna League playoffs.
The race is on for both regular-season titles and playoff spots in the Central and Susquehanna baseball leagues.
With both leagues playing truncated 24-game schedules because of the late start to the season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there's a bit of intrigue in both leagues as the season winds down.
Here’s a look at where things stand as of now.
Central League: The CL race has far more meaning since only four of the nine clubs in the circuit will make the playoffs, with a best-of-three semifinal round followed by a best-of-five championship series.
League-leading Jefferson has clinched its playoff berth and is closing in on the regular-season title. The Titans (15-3-1, 46 points) lead second-place Glen Rock (12-6-0, 36 points) by 10 points with just five games remaining. If Jefferson wins three of its last five games, it will clinch the regular-season crown, even if Glen Rock sweeps it last six games.
Those two clubs were scheduled to play Tuesday evening, but Hurricane Isaias got in the the way and forced a postponement.
While Jefferson has clinched, the chase for the other three Central playoff spots is far from decided. There are four teams within six points of one another vying for the final three positions.
Glen Rock has the edge for now, but Mechanicsburg (11-7-0, 33 points), Manchester (10-8-1, 31 points) and defending champion Stoverstown (10-9-0, 30 points) are making things interesting.
While the Tigers are just outside of the playoff cutoff at the moment, manager Tim Thoman’s club does have the luxury of having completed its season set with Jefferson and Manchester already. Stoverstown still has head-to-head games with both Glen Rock and Mechanicsburg, in addition to contests against three teams in the bottom half of the standings (Mount Wolf at 6-11-2, Pleasureville at 7-11 and Vikings at 6-13).
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The one advantage that Glen Rock and Mechanicsburg enjoy over Manchester and Stoverstown is that they both have one additional game (six) remaining to be played compared with five for the other two.
Mechanicsburg, however, has been struggling mightily as of late. The first-year Central League member has lost six straight after an 11-1 start.
Susquehanna League: In the Susquehanna League, all eight teams are expected to qualify for the league playoffs, although that could be reduced to four teams if rain causes scheduling problems in the days and weeks to come.
Upstart Windsor is currently atop the standings over defending champ East Prospect. The Cardinals (15-3), who are in the midst of an impressive 11-game winning-streak, have a three-game lead in the win column over the Pistons (12-3). Barring some upsets, either Windsor or East Prospect should win the regular-season SL crown.
Stewartstown (11-5) is 1½ games behind the Pistons for second place, while York Township (8-6) and Hallam (8-8) are battling for home-field advantage in the first-round, assuming all eight teams make the playoffs.
Conrads (4-12), Felton (2-15) and Jacobus (1-10) round out the bottom of the standings.
If all eight teams make the playoffs, the winners of the best-of-three quarterfinals will meet up in best-of-three semifinals. The last two teams standing will square off in a best-of-five championship series to end the season.
Mad Dogs find the win column: While a 2-15 record is not what any team aspires to, the Felton Mad Dogs are pleased their 2020 campaign will not go winless for a second year in a row.
Felton broke a 42-game winless skid with a 5-3 triumph over Hallam back on July 11. The previous victory for the Mad Dogs came back in the 2018 season when they were known as the Ducks.
The Mad Dogs doubled their pleasure with win No. 2 of the season last week. Playing at PeoplesBank Park, Felton left with a 3-2 victory over Jacobus.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.