Although the 2014 Valley Baseball League season couldn't be called "The Summer of Discontent", the rain-plagued schedule saw only two of the 11 teams play all 44 games that were scheduled and Woodstock managed to get in only 41 games.
The Charles Town Cannons were in their second year and reached the eight-team playoffs again after doing so last season. Charles Town was fifth in the regular season chase with a 23-19 record.
Harrisonburg, the 2013 playoff winner, was the best team in the regular season with its 29-13 record. The Turks finished very well and were 9-1 in their last 10 games. Waynesboro also came through the last two weeks with a rush, going 8-2 in its last 10 games of the regular season. The second-place Generals had a 27-16 record.
Front Royal (26-17) was third and Staunton, another team that had a mid-July surge of wins, was fourth.
The last four teams earning playoff spots were the Cannons, Strasburg (21-22), Aldie (19-25), and Covington (18-24).
Winchester, Woodstock and New Market fell short of the playoffs that lead the survivor to the Lineweaver Trophy.
The Cannons traveled to Staunton on Tuesday to open a best-of-three series against the Braves. The other three first-round playoff series saw top-seeded Harrisonburg face Covington, Waynesboro paired against Aldie and Front Royal meeting Strasburg.
The second round of playoff games also has a best-two-of-three series format as does the championship round.
Charles Town won four of its last 10 games to complete its regular season.
Going into the "second season", the Cannons have been using a lineup that featured infielders Stephen Kerr, Chris Townsend, Justin Esquerra and Chaz Pal with an outfield consisting of Justin Harris, Andrew Yacyk and Bryant Munoz. Both Matt Gandy and Ryan Akins have been in the late-season lineups -- one as the catcher and the other as the designated hitter.
Jean Acevedo (with a 2-3 record and a 3.95 earned run average) and Jacob Anthony (with a 3-2 record and 4.24 earned run average) have more starts than any of the pitchers still on the Cannons' roster. In the short series staged by the Valley Baseball League, there is little wiggle room for mistakes so each team won't hesitate to use any and all pitchers who have sufficient rest.
There is no set schedule for the second round of the playoffs. The highest remaining seed after first-round firing faces the lowest remaining seed. And the second-highest seed plays the second-lowest seed.
There are no breaks or days off in the playoffs. Once a series is completed, the next one begins as soon as the opponents finish their earlier series.
Should Charles Town eliminate Staunton, it would be guaranteed at least one home game at Sager Field in the second round.
Rain and cancellations plagued the league to some extent this summer. The 11-team schedule format was also a bit awkward.
In 2015, Charlottesville joins the league bringing the number of teams back to 12. There will again be a Southern Division (Charlottesville, New Market, Covington, Staunton, Harrisonburg and Waynesboro) and a Northern Division (Charles Town, Front Royal, Aldie, Winchester, Strasburg and Woodstock) in place.
But first, the 2014 Valley Baseball League playoffs have their moment in the sun . . . if there is enough sun to safely get through the two-week schedule of games.