A Second Wake Up Call?
If something isn’t broken, why fix it?
Maybe that was the mentality for the Dash in the Mills Cup Championship Series after a strange but effective route to a Southern Division Championship Series triumph against Myrtle Beach.
Against the Pelicans, Winston-Salem mustered only two runs in the set’s first 14 innings. With nine outs remaining in Game 2, the Dash were down by one with their season on the line. Winston’s offense woke up to the tune of three runs in the seventh to even the series and a combined nine tallies in the second and third frames of the winner-take-all Game 3 clash.
The next night, the Dash turned in their second straight one-run performance in a playoff series opener. In Game 2, Lynchburg held a 3-1 lead entering the sixth inning. This time around, elimination wasn’t a possibility, but going down two games with three road games remaining is as close as you can get in a best-of-five set.
Once again, Winston-Salem’s bats woke up. Three runs in the sixth, capped off by Kevan Smith’s two-run bomb to give the Dash the lead, ultimately tilted the momentum in the way of the home team.
For the second time in four days, the Dash stormed back for a Game 2 victory they had to have. Sunday’s win doesn’t mean Winston-Salem will win the series, but it likely kept the club afloat. Now, it comes down to a best-of-three in Lynchburg for the Mills Cup.
Sure, Winston-Salem will have to overcome plenty of obstacles for a Carolina League crown. The Dash went just 4-6 in Lynchburg during the regular season. The Hillcats will send the circuit’s Pitcher of the Year, righty Gus Schlosser, to the mound tomorrow night. And, of course, Lynchburg is a really good team.
However, the Dash have plenty going in their favor:
- Smith is hitting the ball as well as anyone has over a week-long stretch in the Carolina League this season.
- Chris Curley is the best nine-hole hitter in the CL right now, and it isn’t close.
- Keenyn Walker and Daniel Wagner (who is still working hard on this off day) are setting the table for the heart of Winston-Salem’s order.
- Marcus Semien, with a go-ahead homer, a go-ahead two-run double and an insurance homer in this postseason, has been extremely clutch for the Dash.
- Courtney Hawkins, with an RBI in four of the five postseason contests, hasn’t been too shabby on that front, either. This kid is for real.
- Dan Black is oh so due for a big game.
- So is Cyle Hankerd.
- Tuesday’s starter Erik Johnson should have had a no-hit bid through six innings in Game 1 of the SDCS Wednesday against Myrtle Beach.
- Winston’s final two starters–Scott Snodgress and Chris Bassitt–shined in round one with the Dash’s collective back against the wall.
- Every member of the Dash’s bullpen, which has allowed just one earned run in 16.1 innings in the playoffs, will be available for Game 3.
The Hillcats are good, but so is Winston-Salem. At the beginning of the season, Dash fans would’ve loved the idea of needing two wins in three tries to win a Mills Cup. That’s what the assignment is for the Dash, and for the reasons above and many others, this club has a great chance to get it done.