Shorebirds headed to playoffs in September

Despite losing 1-0 to the West Virginia Power last Tuesday night at Appalachian Power Park, the Delmarva Shorebirds still clinched the South Atlantic League Northern Division first half championship thanks to second-place Greensboro’s 2-1 loss against Hickory.

The Shorebirds (46-18) are now headed to postseason play for the seventh time in franchise history and for the first time in 14 years.

The last time Delmarva made the SAL playoffs was 2005 when the Shorebirds won the second half division title. It’s just the second time the Shorebirds have ever won a first half title, following the inaugural 1996 Delmarva team, which went 47-23 before the All-Star Break.

In the game itself, Damon Casetta-Stubbs (3-5) turned in his best start for the Power (32-33), scattering three hits across six scoreless innings with one walk and seven strikeouts. Drew Rom(4-1) took the tough-luck loss, giving up an unearned run on one hit over five innings with three walks and eight punchouts. Bryan Pall closed it out for West Virginia with a scoreless ninth.

The Power’s only breakthrough came in the bottom of the third. Charlie McConnell reached on a two-base error at second with one out, then back-to-back walks to J.R. Davis and Utah Jones loaded the bases. Julio Rodriguez hit a soft grounder to second, but Alexis Torres’ throw for the force at second sailed wide of the bag, and McConnell scored to put West Virginia up 1-0. Rom then coaxed a 4-6-3 double play from Bobby Honeyman to get out of the inning with minimal damage.

Delmarva could only muster four singles on the night, including two infield hits. The Shorebirds had two men on in the third and seventh innings but couldn’t push anything across.

In the top of the ninth Robbie Thorburn led off with an infield single and took second on a grounder, but with two out Nick Horvath struck out swinging to end the game.

Greensboro made their final out against Hickory about 20 minutes later, setting off a euphoric celebration in the visiting clubhouse.

Cadyn Grenier accounted for half of the Shorebirds’ four hits, going 2-for-4. Thorburn and Alexis Torres each had infield knocks.

Davis, Joseph Rosa, and Manny Pazos tallied the three Power hits on the night.

By winning the first half, the Shorebirds clinch homefield advantage in the upcoming Northern Division Championship Series. Delmarva will host the second and if necessary third games against the second half champion or wild card winner on Friday, Sept. 6, and Saturday, Sept. 7.

The clincher comes in the midst of Delmarva’s coldest spell of the season. The Shorebirds had lost three in a row for the first time this season and have dropped just their second series on the year.

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