DURHAM, NC – The 2014 American Association playoffs are all set to begin on Wednesday night with four teams that have very different playoff pasts. In the semifinal round, the Lincoln Saltdogs will face the Winnipeg Goldeyes and the Wichita Wingnuts will be matched up against the Laredo Lemurs.
Lincoln has had a rich playoff history since joining the American Association in 2006. The Saltdogs will make their fifth playoff appearance this season, but it has been a while since they last won the title. Lincoln’s only American Association championship came back in 2009 when the Saltdogs defeated Pensacola in five games. This season, second-year manager Ken Oberkfell led his club to the postseason for the first time with a 54-46 record to capture the Central Division crown.
The Saltdogs’ opponents, the Winnipeg Goldeyes, are also after their second American Association championship. Two years ago, the Goldeyes vanquished Wichita in a three-game sweep to earn Winnipeg’s first AA title. The Goldeyes joined the American Association in 2011 and have made the playoffs in three out of four years. Manager Rick Forney, now in his ninth season with Winnipeg, powered this year’s Goldeyes to a dominant 63-37 record to win the North Division.
Wichita is seeking redemption from back-to-back championship series appearances that did not result in American Association titles. Manager Kevin Hooper has guided the Wingnuts to the American Association postseason five times since he became the club’s skipper in 2009. The last two seasons, the Hooper-led Wingnuts have reached the championship series, but were swept by Winnipeg in 2012 and fell in four games to the Gary SouthShore RailCats last year. Heading into this year’s playoffs, however, Wichita is running on a serious hot streak. The Wingnuts have won nine consecutive games and enter the postseason with an astonishing league-best record of 73-27 that helped the club win the South Division title.
Laredo has a rather brief history in the American Association, but they enter the playoffs with high hopes. The Lemurs joined the American Association in 2012 and made the postseason that year, only to be swept by Wichita. Laredo manager Pete Incaviglia, however, has AA playoff experience, as he piloted the Grand Prairie AirHogs to a championship series appearance in 2008. Incaviglia helped this year’s Lemurs club reach the postseason through a wild card berth with a 58-42 record.
Semifinals Game One Probable Starters
Lincoln (RHP Joe Bisenius: 6-2, 3.45 ERA)
Winnipeg (LHP Chris Salamida: 7-4, 3.28 ERA)
Wichita (RHP Tim Brown: 10-4, 3.12 ERA)
Laredo (RHP Jeremy Strawn: 9-0, 2.45 ERA)