NORTH ADAMS, Mass.
– Back into the postseason after a brief one-year hiatus, the North Adams SteepleCats begin their quest for the franchise’s first-ever Fay Vincent Cup tonight when they visit the Danbury Westerners for Game 1 of their best-of-three New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) Western Division semifinal series.
Wrapping up the regular season with an overall record of 22-20, the SteepleCats finished in third place in a highly competitive Western Division that was eventually won by the defending NECBL champion Keene Swamp Bats (29-13). Danbury, meanwhile, clinched the No. 2 seed with a record of 23-18, while the Vermont Mountaineers were the last team in with a final record of 18-23.
The SteepleCats started the season on a tear, winning their first four games to tie the best start in team history and went on to post a record of 12-7 in the month of June, five games over .500 and right in the thick of the Western Division race.
July was not as kind to the SteepleCats, as the seventh month saw North Adams post a record of 9-13 over that span, but regardless, the SteepleCats trek into the playoffs for the 10th time in the team’s 11-year history.
Facing off against a Danbury team that finished July 15-5 after starting 8-11 in June, the SteepleCats finished the regular-season series with a 5-3 record against the Westerners, including a 9-5 win in the regular-season finale this past Wednesday at Joe Wolfe Field. North Adams went 2-2 at Rogers Park over the course of the regular season while finishing 3-1 at home against Danbury.
Because the Westerners finished with a better record than the SteepleCats, they will hold home-field advantage in the best-of-three series; Danbury hosts Game 1 on Friday night and will have the opportunity to host a third and decisive game on Sunday night if necessary.
In the other Western Division semifinal series, the Swamp Bats will begin their quest to defend their 2011 NECBL crown with a first-round series against the Mountaineers. Keene dominated the season series with a 7-1 record against Vermont, and the Mountaineers have scuffled into the postseason after being swept in a doubleheader against the Swamp Bats on Wednesday. Vermont has lost 7-of-10 to close out the regular season.
Shifting over to the East, top-seeded Newport will host fourth-seeded Sanford in the first semifinal series while second-seeded New Bedford hosts third-seeded Laconia in the other series.
The Gulls finished the regular season with a league-best record of 31-10 and dominated the Mainers (15-26) in the regular-season series, winning seven of the eight showdowns. Meanwhile, the Bay Sox (29-13) and the Muskrats (17-24) split their eight regular-season meetings. Laconia will be looking to find some of the magic that helped them upset Newport in the first round last year as the No. 4 seed before falling to Keene in the 2011 NECBL Championship series.
All start times are set for 6:30 p.m. with the exception of all home games at Newport, which will begin at 6:35 p.m. As always, PointStreak will provide live, in-game scoring, while Teamline will provide live audio/video broadcasts throughout the postseason. Head to www.necbl.com for more information.