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SAL Championship Series Preview09/09/2006 7:34 PM ET
By Dan Pieringer / MLB.com
Augusta GreenJackets vs. Lakewood BlueClaws
Augusta won three of four meetings from Lakewood during the regular season. Pitching and defense prevailed in the series as the GreenJackets and BlueClaws combined to score 22 runs. The GreenJackets pitched to an 0.72 ERA.
ON THE MOUND
AT THE PLATE
Michael Mooney hit .287 with 11 home runs, seven triples, 28 doubles and 74 RBIs during the season. He also had 38 of the GreenJackets' league-best 244 stolen bases.
Jeremy Slayden was second in the SAL with a .310 batting average. He also had 10 homers, 81 RBIs and a league-best 44 doubles. His numbers continued to escalate toward the end of the season as Slayden batted .353 in August and .389 in September. If he can keep up that pace, the GreenJackets could be in for a long series.
The GreenJackets won the SAL championship in 1995 and 1999. This is the BlueClaws' first postseason appearance in their six-year history.
SERIES COULD TURN ON
The play of GreenJackets shortstop Eugenio Velez. Velez went 2-for-14 with five strikeouts in four games against Lakewood during the season. The SAL Player of the Year needs to step up his performance against the league's best pitching staff if Augusta hopes to claim the championship.
Velez can make anything happen, and he usually does. But he won't be enough to counter three of the league's best pitchers. The BlueClaws' "Big Three" will prevail. Lakewood in four.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.