09 Sep Miners Must Win Two Tonight
In 1960, Joe Garagiola, the former Cardinals catcher and future broadcaster and host of the Today Show, wrote a book called “Baseball is a Funny Game.”
No argument today from the Sussex County Miners.
The team had its game with the Tri-City ValleyCats in Troy, NY, stopped by rain in the third inning last night, yet the Miners inched up in the Frontier League’s Northeast Division standings.
They’ve been on the verge of elimination from the pennant race for three days now, but Mother Nature stepped in to help.
So did their Garden State cousins back in Little Falls. For the second night in a row, the last-place New Jersey Jackals topped the first-place Washington Wild Things, preventing Washington from clinching the division and the ticket to the postseason playoffs.
In fact, the Jackals hammered the Wild Things with a 20-hit, 5-home run attack for a 21-8 victory at Yogi Berra Stadium.
Washington’s magic number to clinch the title is still at one, meaning one Washington win or one Miners loss ends the race. But, because of last night’s dual events, Sussex County moved up from 5 games behind to 4 ½ behind.
They’re still teetering on the edge of the cliff, but the Miners are still technically alive today.
Now, they’ll need their luck to continue. They need the Jackals to complete a three-game sweep of Washington tonight to stay on life support. And, they also need to win two games of their own tonight – first the 4 p.m. conclusion of last night’s 1-1 game and then tonight’s regularly scheduled game after that.
If the Jackals win and the Miners win two, then the Miners would come home to Skylands Stadium with their slim chances still intact as they begin a four-game series Friday night hosting Quebec in the final weekend of the regular season. Meanwhile, the Wild Things also head home to Washington, Pa., to wrap up the year hosting Tri-City for a three-game series.
It could become an engrossing final weekend with the Miners and Wild Things competing for the Northeast Division crown while Quebec and Tri-City try to outlast each other for first place in the Atlantic Division. Right now, Tri-City and Quebec are in a dead tie with identical marks of 48-33.
The Schaumburg Boomers, at 49-33, are the only team so far to clinch one of the Frontier League’s four postseason spots, leading the Central Division by an insurmountable 7 ½ games over the Windy City ThunderBolts. In the fourth pennant race, the Evansville Otters, with a league-best 55-37 record, are currently ½ game ahead of the Florence Y’Alls in the West Division.
Last night off Route 3, the Northeast-leading Wild Things were simply demolished. The Jackals took a quick 9-0 lead after four innings, then regrouped after Washington cut it to 9-7 with a big fifth inning. New Jersey added two in the sixth for an 11-7 lead and made it a silly night with six more runs in the bottom of the seventh.
NEW BOTTOM LINE
After last night, the Wild Things are 53-39 with four games left. If they lose all four, they’ll finish the season at 53-43 with a winning percentage of .552.
The Miners, at this moment, are 47-42 with six games left, including two games tonight and two on Friday in a rainout-makeup doubleheader. If they win all six, they’ll finish at 53-42 with a winning percentage of .568 and one game ahead of Washington in the all-important loss column, making the Miners the champs.
No matter what, the Miners are set to finish the year with 95 results instead of the normal 96 because the final game of their final series with the New York Boulders on Aug. 22 was cancelled, not postponed.
In order to live another day, the Miners must win two tonight – and keep rooting for those scrappy Jackals… and maybe for Mother Nature, too.
By Carl Barbati, former sports editor of the New Jersey Herald, Daily Record and The Trentonian.