By Evan Blair, Operations Intern
The Potomac League playoffs are right around the corner, and it could not be a more exciting time here at Capital One Park. Starting tomorrow, we will have single-elimination games played – three games on Wednesday, two games on Thursday, and the championship game on Saturday. The tournament-style bracket includes every team in the Potomac League and is seeded by regular season records. The match-ups are set, the teams are ready, and it is win or go home. With that, let’s look at my prediction for how the tournament will shake out.
Champion: Rough Riders
The Rough Riders are a phenomenal team and have two outstanding starting arms, Cole Snead and Ryan Dudak. Along with those two, the bullpen is outstanding, and the lineup is composed of many talented players. The Rough Riders have the most speed in the league, stealing 74 bases on the year, and have the second-best batting average in the league. The elite combination of speed, average, and pitching means the Rough Riders will breeze past the struggling Bunt Cakes and come up with a win against the Yard Dogs. In the end, I believe the Rough Riders will have what it takes to win the 2023 championship.
Runner-Up: Chili Dogs
The Chili Dogs are the most talented team in the league, but talent does not always win championships. Led by Josh Gjormand, Carson Estridge, and Cooper Charneco, the Chili Dogs have a deep rotation that has been able to compete all season long. However, I think they will fall short in the end. The Chili Dogs have had an up-and-down past week, which doesn’t necessarily bode well for a successful tournament run. Furthermore, the Chili Dogs are missing their biggest piece, Coach Mark “Pudge” Gjormand. After already winning a high school state championship this year, Coach Pudge is one of the winningest coaches in the state, maybe even the country. Without Pudge, I do not think this team will win a championship.
The Rest of the Bracket: Hot Wings & Yard Dogs Make the Second Round
The Hot Wings will upset the Red Foxes in the first round because the Hot Wings are playing at an elite level right now. The Wings are 3-0 in their last 3 games, outscoring opponents by 10 runs in that stretch. The Red Foxes have had a rocky last few weeks and now sit at 9-9 on the season. Facing the Hot Wings will be too tall a task for the scuffling Red Foxes.
The Yard Dogs will easily breeze past the Gators and set themselves up for a 2 vs. 3 seed semi-final game against the Rough Riders. The Yard Dogs are close to a sure thing for victory in their opening round game, especially because of their elite arms and bullpen. The Yard Dogs have thrown back-to-back no-hitters in their final two games - an excellent way to end the season. No one has a more well-built, all-around team than Carson Carroll. However, I believe that doesn’t stop the Rough Riders from handing them their first loss in 5 games on Thursday evening in the semi-finals.
The table is set, plates are loaded, and everyone is at the dinner table. It is win or go home here at Capital One Park and everyone has their eyes on a championship.
Make sure to be on the lookout for All-Potomac League Teams, which will be announced on Twitter soon!