AUBURN, Mass. – The Auburn Legion baseball team’s regular season schedule is winding to a close, but players are looking to get on a hot streak and play deep into the summer.
“Our expectations are very high,” said Steven Wallace, Auburn’s leadoff hitter. “We’re ready to go into playoffs and go after the state championship.”
The Zone 4 American Legion baseball playoffs begin on Monday, July 23, and Auburn (13-10) still isn’t sure what their playoff seed will be.
The top nine teams in the Central Massachusetts Zone 4 division qualify for the playoffs, and Auburn was in sixth place as of July 17. However, that seed could change with three games remaining in the regular season.
The teams in front of them in the standings include Milford, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, East Side, and Leominster. The teams behind them are Framingham, Main South, and Grafton Hill.
Wallace said good things will happen if they stay focused throughout the playoffs.
“We just need to stay together and stay the course,” he said. “You can’t get too lenient and too comfortable. You got to come out like it’s your first game and come ready to play.”
He said that defense and pitching will be the key to winning games.
“We’ve been solid in those areas all season, and we just need to maintain that for the playoffs,” Wallace said. “I’m hoping the games are pretty low scoring and quick because that’s fun baseball.”
While the games are hopefully short, the road to a state title is a long process.
In the Zone 4 round, the team with the best record gets a bye to the sectionals. Then the eight other teams are split into two brackets of four teams.
Each bracket has a double-elimination round-robin tournament, and the winner of each bracket joins the best-record team in sectionals.
In sectionals, the three Central Mass. teams are joined by five Western Mass. teams. Again, they split in two brackets of round-robin play.
The winner of each bracket qualifies for the state tournament in New Bedford in August, where the top eight teams in the state battle it out.