Sunday, September 15, 2013

2013 Atlantic League Regular Season Wrap-Up

2013 Regular Season Ends

The Final Four:
Sugar Land Skeeters vs. Somerset Patriots
Southern Maryland Blue Crabs vs. Long Island Ducks

With a .342 batting average, the Lancaster Barnstormers' Jerry Owens was the Atlantic League's top hitter.  With twenty-nine home runs and ninety-two runs batted in, his team mate Ryan Harvey was the league's leader in both.  On the hill, Lancaster's Dwayne Pollok was the Atlantic League's top winner with eighteen victories, and came in second with a 2.92 ERA, and was one of only two pitchers with an ERA under three.  With a 72-66 mark, the Lancaster Barnstormers finished the regular season with the Atlantic League's third best overall record behind only the Sugar Land Skeeters and Somerset Patriots.

...And there in lies Lancasters' end of the road.  Had they played in the Liberty Division, they would have assured themselves a playoff spot long ago; easy.  However, there will be no post-season for the Barnstormers this year.  Posting identical 36-33 records, they finished third behind the Skeeters and Patriots in both the Freedom Division's first and second halves.

The Sugar Land Skeeters were the undisputed Freedom Division champs, and set the new Atlantic League all-time mark with an overall 95-45 regular season record.  Who's record did they break?  Ironically, it was the 2012 Lancaster Barnstormers.  The Skeeters dominated the entire league from post to post.  Just do not let the Somerset Patriots hear that kind of talk.  Were it not for Sugar Land achieving the milestone first, the Somerset Patriots would have been credited with setting the new Atlantic League record for wins in a season.  With a 90-49 overall record, they finished second in the Freedom Division in each half behind Sugar Land.  Somerset will enter the post-season however, as the Wild Card.  Somerset and Sugar Land were the only two clubs with eighty victories or better, much less achieving ninety wins.

Simple accounting tells you all that winning took its toll somewhere else in the league.  The Liberty Division suffered the brunt of the damage, but truth is, every team outside of Sugar Land, Somerset and Lancaster finished the regular season below the .500 mark.

The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs won the Liberty Division's first half title with a 37-32 record, but stumbled mightily to a 27-42 record in the second half, and finished with an overall 64-74 regular season record.  The defending champion Long Island Ducks finished second, 7.5 games behind the Blue Crabs with a disappointing 30-40 first half record.  Long Island's struggles continued throughout the second half as well.  But in the second to final game of the regular season and with the Bridgeport Bluefish hot on their tail, Long Island finally clinched an opportunity to defend their title, by capturing the Liberty Division second half flag, finishing with a 33-37 record.  The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs finished the second half in last place.

The 2013 Atlantic League post-season is set.  The Sugar Land Skeeters will face the Somerset Patriots in a Freedom Division showdown between the league's top two teams, while the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs will play the defending champion Long Island Ducks for the Liberty Division crown.  The winners of each series will then play for the Atlantic League championship.

The games begin Wednesday night.


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