DURHAM, NC – Tomorrow night, September 10, 2013, the Wichita Wingnuts and Gary SouthShore RailCats will begin to do battle for the American Association championship. The best-of-five series, beginning in Gary, IN, will feature two Central Division teams who took different paths to get to the same place. But, both sides have the same goal in mind. They are both after their first American Association title.
Wichita enters its second straight championship series after a dominating semifinals against Grand Prairie. The Wingnuts put the AirHogs to bed in a three-game sweep. In those three contests, eight different Wichita pitchers combined to shutout their opponents over 30 innings. Christopher M. Smith served up the finest performance of the bunch. The righty dealt a complete game, three-hit shutout in the middle game of the series. That came the night after six hurlers kept the AirHogs scoreless for 12 innings.
The Wingnuts’ strong performance in the opening round should come as little surprise considering their regular season. Wichita set a new American Association wins record by going 68-32, en route to a Central Division championship. As a result, Kevin Hooper was named the Manager of the Year and first baseman C.J. Ziegler, who hit 30 homers to break the league’s single-season record, was crowned the Player of the Year. In total, five Wingnuts were named to the All-Star Team.
Gary SouthShore was in the unfortunate position of playing in the same division as the Wingnuts in their record-breaking season. The RailCats had the third-best record in the American Association at 58-41, but had to utilize the Wild Card to earn a playoff spot. Greg Tagert’s crew did just that, finishing 2.5 games ahead of Winnipeg after winning eight of its last 10 games.
In the opening round, the RailCats stumbled out of the gate, but quickly recovered. Gary SouthShore took a tough, 2-0 loss to Fargo-Moorhead in game one, despite a strong performance by American Association wins leader Alain Quijano. The RailCats stormed back, however, winning each of the next three games to take the series from the RedHawks, 3-1. Billy Spottiswood and Morgan Coombs tossed the gems of the series. Spottiswood pitched a complete game, three-hitter in the third contest. He only allowed one run and struck out five, setting the stage for Coombs in the clincher. Coombs pitched seven scoreless innings to send Gary SouthShore to the Championship Series. He struck out eight men and only allowed five hits. The win propelled Gary SouthShore into its first American Association Championship Series in the club’s first playoff appearance in the league.
Championship Series Schedule and Probable Starters
Wichita vs. Gary SouthShore
Tuesday, September 10: Game 1 – Wichita (RHP Junior Guerra) at Gary SouthShore (LHP Alain Quijano), 7:10 p.m.
Wednesday, September 11: Game 2 – Wichita (RHP Christopher M. Smith) at Gary SouthShore (RHP Stephen Hiscock), 7:10 p.m.
Friday, September 13: Game 3 – Gary SouthShore (RHP Billy Spottiswood) at Wichita (LHP Anthony Capra), 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, September 14: Game 4 (If Necessary) – Gary SouthShore (RHP Morgan Coombs) at Wichita (RHP Justin Klipp), 7:05 p.m.
Sunday, September 15: Game 5 (If Necessary) – Gary SouthShore (LHP Alain Quijano) at Wichita (RHP Junior Guerra), 7:05 p.m.