You might as well call Friday night, July 7, Championship Night in the Atlantic League. Two first half champions will be crowned and half of the ALPB playoff field will be set. The first half races will focus on York hosting Lexington and Long Island visiting Southern Maryland for the North title. The South spotlight lies squarely on High Point where the Rockers will host Gastonia.
In the North, York will play Lexington at WellSpan Park with championship dreams on its mind. The Revolution are 37-25 and will finish the first half with Friday night’s game. York’s task is simple: win and take the North Division title. Long Island is a game back at 36-26 but the Ducks have control of the tiebreaker should the race come down to that. Long Island needs to win its game at Southern Maryland to earn its 37th win, and then root for Lexington to win at York. Should that happen and York and Long Island finish with identical 37-26 records, then the Ducks would claim the first half title by virtue of their 8-7 advantage in head-to-head competition with the Revs this season.
In the South, Gastonia visits High Point and each club knows that it’s a winner-take-all match-up. Gastonia comes in as the league leader at 41-21 with the Rockers a game back at 40-22. If Gastonia wins, the Honey Hunters would claim their third consecutive South Division half-season title, having won both halves in 2022.
However, the Rockers come into the game with a handful of tiebreakers in their proverbial back pocket. A High Point win on Friday means each team finishes at 41-22. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head competition and that would be all square at 5-5. The second tiebreaker is each team’s winning percentage within the division. In the South, a Friday night win would give High Point a 25-10 record and .714 winning percentage against its fellow South members. A Gastonia loss would leave the Honey Hunters at 25-12 vs. the South, a winning percentage of .676. Thus, the South title would go to High Point by .038 percentage points.
But Gastonia can eliminate the need for any tiebreakers simply by winning Friday night’s game at High Point’s Truist Point. The Honey Hunters will send righty Ryan Conroy to the mound to face High Point right hander Jheyson Manzueta.
A Gastonia win would give the Honey Hunters three consecutive South Division half-season titles. Gastonia won both halves of the 2022 season and a win Friday would mark a third straight. York will be chasing its eighth half-season championship and its first since winning the second half of the 2019 Freedom Division.
Long Island leads all current clubs with 15 half-season championships with its most recent coming in winning the first half in the North in 2021. For High Point, a win would mark its first half-season Atlantic League title.
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