A’s the Team to Beat Going into Playoffs

The San Benito Babe Ruth baseball league’s playoffs start today,
and the two-time defending champion A’s look to be the favorite,
posting the league’s best record, gaining the number one seed and
receiving a first-round bye once again.
Greg Chapman Staff Writer

Hollister – The San Benito Babe Ruth baseball league’s playoffs start today, and the two-time defending champion A’s look to be the favorite, posting the league’s best record, gaining the number one seed and receiving a first-round bye once again.

The A’s have had great success over the past three seasons, going 56-2, with the two losses coming without their high school players who have to wait for their school seasons to finish before they can join their teams, and are in position for a three-peat.

Still, amongst the success, the A’s, 17-1 on the season, remain modest because they haven’t won the crown yet and know that anything can happen.

“If other teams want to say we’re the favorite that’s fine, but we’re not going to say it,” Steve Ferranti, A’s manager, said.

An experienced bunch with seven 15-year-old’s, the A’s will rely on their pitching and defense to take them all the way.

The team has had 14 of their 15 players pitch in a game, and Ferranti said the team has five or six that can throw well.

For continued success, Ferranti feels the team has to continue to play the way it has been playing for the last three years.

The pitchers on the team know that coaches want strikes thrown, so that the opposing team can put the ball in play to give the defense the chance to shine.

“We have a lot of pitchers and we play good defense,” Ferranti said. “If we play our game, we’ll live with the results.”

Five other teams will have something to say as well about who’s champion, and they’re feeling confident about their chances to win it all.

The number two-seeded Rockies, who also have a first-round bye after finishing the season 14-4, are the only team that has defeated the A’s this season. They have split in their two meetings, but the Rockies will have to make sure their intensity level is up when the playoffs start.

“We have a good chance, if the team I know shows up,” Dave Lijan, Rockies manager, said.

The Rockies started off the season on a 10 game win streak, before losing four games that Lijan credits to attention span. If the Rockies play with the same intensity as they did in the beginning of the season, Lijan feels the team can sweep through the playoffs.

The Marlins, finishing 13-5 to gain the third seed, have as good a chance as any other team in the eyes of manager Reggie Synegal.

“I always feel like my team is the top team out there, and I feel like we have a really good chance of winning,” Synegal said.

Pitching and defense is also the combination that Synegal feels will win the championship, but he place more emphasis on defense.

He said that pitchers have to get the ball around the plate, get strikes and the defense will need to step up.

“Defense is going to win this thing,” Synegal said.

The Cubs, the fourth seed finishing at 10-8, and the Giants, the fifth seed finishing 9-9, will rely on their offences to carry them.

The Cubs’ offense poses the problem of being the biggest and tallest lineup in the league, with players who swing a big bat. Manager Noel Provost says they must put their serious faces on and play hard.

“We’re tough to beat if they show up to play baseball,” Provost said. “Any team we face, we’ll give them a challenge.”

A solid team, the Giants have some good hitters and score runs in bunches, but besides scoring manager Keith Stevens feels they’ll have to play error free baseball because the top teams, A’s, Rockies, Marlins, will make them pay if they don’t.

“Offensively, we have to manufacture runs against upper-echelon teams that have good pitching, which counters our good offense,” Stevens said. “We need to get on pitchers early with good selective hitting and we’ll be alright.”

The Astros, the number six seed finishing at 8-10, will win or lose in the playoffs the same way that they got in, scrapping.

The team has been using nine players all season because of unfortunate injuries and has relied on many players playing different positions.

Still, manager Oscar Ramirez said, he has been working the team and they’ve been coming through here and there, and he feels they have a chance to do some damage in the playoffs.

“Definitely, we got to use up everything that we got,” Ramirez said. “We have to lay it all down on the line, you’ve got nothing to lose.”

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