The Ridgefield Raptors enter their final series of the regular season with a guarantee of playing into next week as the West Coast League postseason begins, though some of the details still need to be ironed out.
With Wednesday’s 11-4 road win over the Walla Walla Sweets, the Raptors joined the Corvallis Knights, Portland Pickles and Bellingham Bells on the list of WCL teams that have clinched a playoff berth.
The league’s expansion from 12 to 16 teams for the 2022 season also doubled the number of teams to qualify for the playoffs from four to eight.
In addition to first-half and second-half regular season winners, there are now two wild card playoff spots for both the WCL North and South divisions.
The divisional round is a best-of-three series format with teams seeded 1-4 in their divisions, followed by a single-game divisional championship and single-game WCL championship between the North and South division winners.
Corvallis, the team Ridgefield finishes the regular season against Friday through Sunday in a three-game series, won the first-half South Division to clinch the No. 1 seed.
Because the Knights, winners of 16 straight games coming into Thursday, also have the best second-half record in the division, the remaining three seeds (second-half winner, wild cards) will most likely be determined by best overall winning percentage for the whole season.
Prior to Thursday’s games, Portland and Ridgefield were projected as the No. 2 and 3 seeds, respectively. If those standings hold, the two teams would match up in the divisional series with Ridgefield hosting Game 1 and Portland hosting Games 2, and 3 if necessary.
With Portland 2 1/2 games ahead of Ridgefield coming into Thursday, the Raptors still have a chance of climbing up to the two seed and gaining home-field advantage.
According to WCL playoff procedures, if two teams are tied for the No. 2 playoff spot at the end of the season, the first tiebreaker goes to the team with the better head-to-head record. Ridgefield owns a 4-2 record against Portland this season.
The WCL also announced earlier this week that Portland could end up playing Bellingham on Monday to make up a game that was rained out in June, “in the unlikely event that the result would determine who’s in the playoffs and who’s not.”
Portland will play host to the Springfield Drifters in its final three-game series starting Friday.
The Bend Elks are currently projected as the South Division’s No. 4 seed, to play top seed Corvallis, however, entering Thursday, the Yakima Valley Pippins trailed Bend by just one game and the Cowlitz Black Bears were 2 1/2 games back.
This season marks the Raptors’ second consecutive playoff berth after they clinched a playoff spot on the final day of the season in 2021. They faced Corvallis and were eliminated with two straight losses in a best-of-three series.
The Knights went on to capture their fifth straight WCL title by winning the decisive third game over Yakima Valley 13-2.