It has been an historic season for the Potomac Cannons, one they hope doesn't end any time soon.
After earning a playoff spot for the first time since 1995, the Cannons will play in the Class A Carolina League Northern Division series. Potomac earned a trip to the postseason by winning the Northern Division's first half and will face the second-half champion, the Wilmington Blue Rocks, a Kansas City Royals affiliate.
"We've got a chance to do something good, do something special, win a championship," second baseman Kevin Howard said. "I think everybody is excited."
The best-of-three series opens Wednesday at Wilmington. Game 2 is Thursday at Potomac. If necessary, the teams would play Friday at Potomac. The winner will advance to the league championship series.
Potomac finished the first half, 37-32, marking the first time in six years the Cannons were above .500 in a half.
While the Cannons (29-40 second half, 66-72 overall) have little playoff experience, the Blue Rocks (43-25, 76-61) are postseason regulars. Wilmington is playing in its fourth straight postseason and in the playoffs for the 10th time in the team's 12-year history. The Blue Rocks have won the Carolina League championship four times. Wilmington leads the season series with Potomac 12-8 but six games were decided by one run.
Potomac has struggled lately, losing five of its last six games. A big reason for the Cannons' swoon was their early success. Key players who contributed were promoted.
"Some of these guys were the best players we had," Manager Edgar Caceres said. "But the first goal is development, to develop these guys for the next level."
Not only are the players enthusiastic about competing for a championship, they also hope the playoffs will help further their professional careers.
"The more winning teams you are on, the more success you have, both individually and as a team, it is going to help your career," designated hitter Ryan Hanigan said. "They look for winners. They look for gamers. That all adds up."