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SAL Championship Series Preview
09/09/2006 7:34 PM ET
Augusta GreenJackets vs. Lakewood BlueClaws

(Best-of-5)

REGULAR-SEASON SERIES

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.

HEAD-TO-HEAD STATS

Augusta
David Maroul hit .286 with three doubles and a triple against Lakewood. His six RBIs accounted for half of the GreenJackets' run production against the BlueClaws. ... Most Augusta pitchers had success against the BlueClaws as Lakewood hit just .217. Sergio Romo logged the most innings against Lakewood, allowing one earned run on five hits in 6 1/3 frames.

Lakewood
Welinson Baez was 5-for-11 with a double and two RBIs in three games against Augusta. He was fifth in the SAL with 34 doubles. ... Carlos Carrasco pitched six scoreless innings in his only start against Augusta. He allowed two hits while striking out seven, but the BlueClaws couldn't get on the board to earn him a win.

ON THE MOUND

Augusta
Joseph Martinez led the GreenJackets' rotation in 2006, going 15-5 with a 3.01 ERA. He did not get a start against Lakewood, so the BlueClaws can't make adjustments based on previous matchups. Martinez can go toe-to-toe with one of Lakewood's "Big Three" pitchers, making him an invaluable asset in their encounter with the best rotation in the league.

Lakewood
Lakewood boasts the SAL's top three strikeout leaders and three of the top five hurlers in ERA in Carrasco, Matt Maloney and Josh Outman. Maloney, the SAL Pitcher of the Year, led the circuit with 16 wins, two more than Outman. Lakewood pitchers surrendered 106 fewer hits than any other South Atlantic League staff. That's bad news for the GreenJackets in a short series.

AT THE PLATE
Augusta

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.

Lakewood

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.

HISTORY LESSONS

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.

PREDICTION

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.