Wranglers clinch playoff berth
With an 11-4 win over the Springfield Cardinals on Sunday, the Wichita Wranglers guaranteed their first postseason appearance in three seasons. The win, which pushed the Wranglers overall season record to 71-61, eliminated Springfield (62-69) from playoff contention, and set up a postseason date with first half North Division champion Tulsa.
The Wranglers also moved one step closer to securing the Texas League North Division's second-half title. With seven games remaining on the schedule, the Wranglers hold a five-game lead over the Drillers, and they can clinch a tie tonight with a win and a Drillers's loss. Although the second-half title will have no effect on the postseason schedule at this point, the Wranglers have decided not to "officially" celebrate until they clinch sole possession of the second-half crown.
The Wranglers put on an impressive display of power in Sunday's contest, which was delayed for more than two hours by rain. Left fielder Chris Lubanski led the way by going 4-for-6 with two home runs (15), a triple, and four RBIs, and third baseman Alex Gordon added four more ribbies on three hits, including his 29th home run. Center fielder Mitch Maier raised his season batting average to .303 with a 3-for-5 performance, including two doubles and a home run, and Junior Herndon picked up his 11th win of the season with seven strong innings.
Among Lubanski's four hits on Sunday were two home runs.
Lubanski's four-hit game was his second in his last five contests, and the 21-year-old prospect seems to be in the midst of his customary late season surge. Lubanski hit .327/.414/.618 with six home runs in July, and over his last 10 games, he's 15-for-42 (.357) with three homers, two doubles, and two triples. On the season, his numbers now stand at .282/.368/.481, and although it hasn't been officially reported yet, it is our understanding that he will report to the Arizona Fall League this fall.
Other playoff races:
The second-half champion earns an automatic playoff berth, but even if the Mavs fall short of that, they are currently 1.5 games ahead of Lake Elsinore for the South Division's wild card. The wild card is claimed by the team with the best overall record (excluding first- and second-half champions), and at 69-64, the Mavs control their own destiny.
With 11 games remaining, the Chukars (34-31) lead the Raptors (33-32) by a game in the overall standings. The Chukars must rely on the Owlz to do their part by continuing to win games, but much of their destiny is still in their own hands. They conclude the season with a crucial three game series in Ogden from September 5-7.
Francis has been on fire of late
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