Local players prepare for minor league playoffs

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Minor League Baseball entered its final weekend of regular season play Friday with several local players preparing for the postseason. While big league teams will play through September, most of the minor leaguers wrap up the regular season Monday, with only a few teams advancing to the playoffs.

•At the Double-A level, former Greenbrier High School and Georgia Bulldogs star Rich Poythress locked up a spot in the postseason earlier this year when he and his Jackson Generals teammates won the Southern League’s North Division first-half championship.

The Seattle Mariners affiliate will face the Chattanooga Lookouts (Dodgers) in the first round of the Southern League playoffs. The best-of-five series will start Thursday and Friday with Games 1 and 2 in Jackson, Tenn. The rest of the series will be played in Chattanooga.

The winner of the divisional series will advance to the Southern League’s best-of-five championship series.

•Former Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker, whose family lives in Evans, just celebrated a second-half division championship in the California League. The Modesto Nuts outfielder and his teammates clinched a playoff spot Friday night with a 3-1 win over the San Jose Giants, sending the Colorado Rockies’ Advanced-A affiliate to the postseason for the sixth consecutive season.

Modesto will open the playoffs on the road with a best-of-three North Division series starting in San Jose on Wednesday. The series will shift to Modesto for Games 2 and 3, if necessary, on Thursday and Friday.

•Two North Augusta High School products, Marty Gantt and Taylor Guerrieri have spent their first professional season together in the New York-Penn League and will spend the final week of the regular season trying to clinch a playoff spot.

The Hudson Valley Renegades, with Gantt starting in the outfield and Guerrieri in the starting rotation, entered Saturday’s play with a five-game lead over the second-place Brooklyn Cyclones with five games to play.

The New York-Penn League postseason, which includes three division winners and a wild card team, will begin Friday with a pair of best-of-three series in the first round. The best-of-three championship series will open next week.

STILL PLAYING: While affiliated minor league baseball will wrap up regular season play this week, at least one independent league will play well into September.

The Atlantic League will play through Sept. 23 with two local players on teams within striking distance of the playoffs.

Greenbrier product James Shanks and his Southern Maryland Blue Crabs teammates entered the weekend with a 5.5-game lead atop the league’s Liberty Division.

The Camden Riversharks, with Hephzibah’s Lloyd Turner on the infield, sat in third place in the Liberty Division, seven games behind Southern Maryland.

WIN NO. 1: Former Burke County High School ace Brandon Love picked up his first professional win last week. The Arizona League Angels’ left-handed starter allowed two runs on four hits and a walk over five innings Wednesday night in a 5-3 win over the Diamondbacks.

Love (1-5) struck out five and allowed no more than two earned runs for the third consecutive outing.

VOTES ARE IN: Results of a player poll conducted by MiLB.com and released last week pinpoint three South Atlantic League ballparks as players’ favorites, but Augusta and Lake Olmstead Stadium didn’t draw a single vote.

The survey asked 382 minor league baseball players, “What’s your favorite Minor League town or city to visit on a road trip?”

Though no single city received even close to a majority, Dayton, Ohio was the No. 1 response, earning nine percent of the votes just ahead of Charleston, S.C. at eight percent.

Greenville, S.C. and Lakewood, N.J. also made the top 12. Asheville, N.C., Lexington, Ky., Rome, Ga. and Savannah, Ga. also received votes.


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