The Milton Raptors entered the final weekend of the Rock River League regular season needing several things to happen for a playoff berth to become a reality:
- Obviously, they needed to win their finale against Clyman.
- And they also had to hope Lebanon would stumble—not once, but twice.
Everything fell into place Sunday.
The Raptors bested Clyman 7-4 and then shortly after learned that Hustisford had defeated Lebanon 7-5, sending Milton to the postseason as the Southern Division’s fourth seed.
Alex Marro struck out nine in a complete-game victory and McCauley Cox hit a key two-run home run in the ninth for Milton, which finished 9-5—a game ahead of Lebanon for fourth place.
Had the two teams tied, Lebanon would have advanced to the playoffs by virtue of its head-to-head tiebreaker over Milton. The Raptors won their final four games, while Lebanon lost its last two, including coughing up a 7-1 lead Friday against Clyman (11-3).
“We’ve been able to nip together a real good lineup over the past few weeks,” Milton manager Doug Welch said. “Today, we probably put together the best lineup we could. There’s been more of a sense of urgency and the guys have been locked on.”
After Josh Oswald hit a solo home run to pull Clyman within a run, 5-4, in the eighth Sunday, the Raptors scored two big insurance runs on Cox’s blast in the ninth.
Cade Bohlman led the Raptors with three hits, while Josh Shere and Cox each had two.
Milton will face regular-season champion Hustisford in a first-round playoff game Saturday. The two teams split during the regular season, with the Astros winning 13-12 on July 14 and the Raptors winning 5-4 two weeks later.
“We feel really good about the way we’ve played down the stretch,” Welch said.
Second-seeded Clyman will face third-seeded Neosho on Saturday. The semifinal losers and winners will each play Sunday in the double-elimination tournament.
MILTON 7, CLYMAN 4Milton 100 210 002—7 11 1
Clyman 120 000 010—4 9 0
Marro; Davis, Lenzenburg (5), Rose
Leading hitter—Bohlman (M) 3x3, J. Shere (M) 2x5, Cox (M) 2x4, Schuett (C) 3x4, Oswald (C) 3x4. 2B—Berghammer (M), J. Shere, Sam McCann, Schuett 2, Schmitt (C), Oswald. HR—Cox, Oswald.
SO—Marro 9, Davis 6, Lenzenburg 2, Rose 1. BB—Marro 4, Davis 2, Lenzenburg 1, Rose 1.