Auburn lost to Williamsport, 8-4, but officially claimed the New York-Penn League's Pinckney Division after Batavia lost earlier in the day. The Doubledays, Washington's Class A Short-Season affiliate, will host Tri-City on Sept. 7 at 7:05 p.m. ET for Game 1 of the semifinals.
"They've earned this," Auburn manager Gary Cathcart said about his squad, which won eight of its last 11 games with seven of those coming on the road. "The schedule called for us to be on the road our last 10 games, and that's not an easy thing to do."
The clincher marked the eighth time the Doubledays have won the Pinckney Division since 2002. Auburn entered the day with a chance to claim the division with a win over Williamsport or a loss from Batavia -- the Muckdogs dropped both ends of their doubleheader at Jamestown, handing Auburn the title early Wednesday evening.
But the Doubledays actually did their celebrating Tuesday after a 9-7 win over Williamsport gave them the edge in a tiebreaking scenario that is not officially reflected in the league's standings.
"We had a little fun in Williamsport, it was good," said Cathcart. "It's always good to see the kids get a taste of winning. We're firm believers that winning can be a part of player development, so it's a good thing."
Cathcart, in his second year at Auburn, said the Doubledays have a tough task with Tri-City, an Astros affiliate that has been atop the league for much of the summer.
"I'm almost positive they've been in first place every day this year," he said. "But these guys (Auburn) gelled pretty quickly. We've been pretty consistent all year and we've been really at our best at the end of the season, if not more than any other time this year."
Cathcart pointed to infielders such as Shawn Pleffner and Estarlin Martinez for their big seasons -- both are hitting over .300 and rank among the team's leaders in RBIs.
"Obviously, offensively we've had a few guys have pretty good years. Shawn Pleffner is second in the league in batting, he's a big lefty-hitting first baseman. And Estarlin Martinez has had a big year for us. Wander Ramos, an outfielder, is another All-Star and he's second in RBIs. We had a lot of guys productive in the middle of the order."
Auburn also got a brief boost from Anthony Rendon, Washington's No. 1 pick last year, who hit in eight games for Auburn before reaching Double-A. Cal product Tony Renda had a strong August too.
"Tony Renda had a big second half, he became a real force," Cathcart said. "It was a good offensive team for most of the summer."
Cathcart said lefty Brett Mooneyham, a third-rounder out of Stanford, will get the ball in Game 1 against Tri-City, while 18th-round pick David Fisher will start Game 2. Nicholas Lee, who finished second on the team with 62 innings pitched this year, will start Game 3 if it goes that far.
"We only played them once, we played three games and they took two of three," Cathcart said. "That's a good team, for most of the season, they had the best record. It's a heck of a team over there, a big challenge for us. But we're looking forward to it, our guys are ready, so it should be fun."