Despite a season marred by inconsistencies and player departure, the Express (22-19) closed the season on a 4-game win streak and clinched the #3 seed in the tightly contested North Division. The Purcellville Cannons (26-16) locked up the #1 seed with the New Market Rebels (24-17) grabbing the #2 seed and the Winchester Royals (21-21) grabbing the #4 seed.
All series will be best-of-three and will begin on Saturday, July 29. Semifinal and championship rounds will begin as soon as the previous series are completed, without off days in between (weather permitting).
The quarterfinal schedule is as follows, with previews added courtesy of www.valleyleaguebaseball.com:
NORTH DIVISION QUARTERFINALS
Purcellville Cannons (26-16) vs. Winchester Royals (21-21)
Despite losing several key bats throughout the season, the Cannons have been at the top of the division throughout behind infielder Trevin Esquerra (.362, 8 HRs, 33 RBIs) and pitcher Thomas Sutera (6-0, 1.57 ERA, 3 saves). Winchester won eight straight games last week, and features one of the league’s most talented hitters in Cody Wilson (.336, .426 OBP, 6 triples, 23 RBIs).
New Market Rebels (24-17) vs. Strasburg Express (22-19)
New Market grabbed second place with a midseason winning streak and is tough on the mound with Alec Aleywine (4-0, 3.82 ERA) and Nate Pawelczyk (3-0, 0.55 ERA, 3 saves) and has seven regulars batting over .300 with double-digit RBIs, including Jacob Rhinesmith (.369, 33 RBIs) and Aleywine himself (.314, 33 RBIs).The two-time defending champion Express have been uncharacteristically inconsistent this summer. But a team with an offense that has scored double-digit runs five times since July 10 and a rotation including 2017 All-Star Zach Peek (4-1, 1.80 ERA, 40 Ks) and 2016 All-Star Benjamin Dum (5-2, 2.77 ERA, 39 Ks) will be tough to knock out.
SORTH DIVISION QUARTERFINALS
Charlottesville Tom Sox (32-10) vs. Staunton Braves (19-23)
The Tom Sox put together one of the best regular seasons in recent VBL history, including infielders Michael Wielansky (.432, 67 hits, 34 RBIs) and Vinnie Pasquantino (.336, 4 HRs, 30 RBIs) and a deep pitching staff that includes D-III standouts Sean McCracken (2-0, 1.65 ERA, 27 K’s), Rick Spiers (4-0, 0.78 ERA, 27 K’s) and Joe Burris (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 4 saves). Staunton had a very talented roster led by Max Wood (.390, 5 HRs, 21 RBIs), but has been hurt by recent injuries/early departures of four VBL Showcase All-Stars including ace Deacon Medders along with Antwaun Tucker, Michael Higgins and Daniel Rivero.
Harrisonburg Turks (21-21) vs. Waynesboro Generals (20-22)
After a slow start, Harrisonburg stormed back to earn the #2 seed in the South for a third straight year. Outfielder Ty Andrus (.348, 54 hits, 29 runs scored) has been on fire this month, while Mason Studstill is 4-0 in six starts on the mound. Defending South pennant winners Waynesboro struggled down the stretch, losing 12 of their last 15 games. Outfielder McClain Bradley bats .359 with 14 extra base hits on the year.