Salem finished the year seven games over .500 at 73-66, second best to Lynchburg in the Carolina League’s Northern Division. However, the Sox didn’t win the big games when needed to make the playoffs.
In the first half Salem finished 40-29 in a dead heat with Lynchburg. However, the Hillcats beat Salem on the last game of the half and held the tie-breaker, giving them the first half title and clinching a spot in the playoffs.
In the second half, needing to beat everyone but Lynchburg to make the playoffs, Salem had a chance to atone for the first half collapse. Instead, they dropped seven of the last eight games to miss out again, including getting swept by Frederick in Frederick last week as the Keys blew by them to claim the second playoff berth in the North. Salem finished 33-37 in the second half.
The Northern Division playoffs start on Wednesday of this week with Lynchburg at Frederick for two. The best-of-five series moves to Lynchburg Friday through Sunday for games three, four and five.
In the Southern Division first half champion Myrtle Beach will host the Down East Wood Ducks in the first two games, beginning Wednesday. That series moves to Myrtle Beach Friday to conclude the series.
What seemed impossible a few months ago and unlikely at best just a few weeks ago became a reality Monday for the Wood Ducks. Josh Morgan went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and LeDarious Clark homered as Down East struck early to wrap up the Carolina League Southern Division’s second-half title with a 10-3 win at Buies Creek. The victory — propelling Down East into the playoffs in its first year of existence — capped an August surge after the Wood Ducks found themselves 8 1/2 games out of first place just three weeks ago.
Buies Creek, a farm team of the Astros, had the best overall record in the Southern Division but did not make the playoffs. The Astros finished 74-65 but finished third in the first half and second in the second half, a half game behind Down East.
The Mills Cup Championship will be played next week after the two division winners are determined.
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