(GAME DATE — Oct. 7, 2020) — The defending Bull Cup champion St. Petersburg Admirals swept the California Tidals away in the ML Elimination Round for the 2020 Bull League playoffs, setting the stage for a possible repeat as Bull Cup champions if they can take the MLCS.
Their challengers will be the wild card Nevada Speeders, who bullied past the Arizona Cowboys 3-1 in their best-of-five series, removing the 2012 expansion team from the bracket after the Cowboys made a second franchise playoff appearance in as many seasons.
The Admirals started their series with a strong win over the Tidals in a 7-5 win that saw 6 home runs hit at The Burg, the Admirals home stadium. California had held a 5-2 lead through the middle innings until a Danny Huertero 3-run shot, paired with an Eppe Dijkstra solo bomb, put the Admirals ahead 6-5 in a huge bottom of the 6th. The Admirals added another one giving, Young-lau Weng an unblemished 3-0 postseason record.
It was another close one in game 2 as the Tidals again led a mid-game lead slip away and went into extras with St. Pete’s, before falling 5-4 in the 11th. Catcher Bill Clark had a walk-off single to secure the win. With a 2-0 series lead, St. Pete’s didn’t let up for game 3, and put the throttle down for a 5-1 win over the Tidals to seal their postseason fate. Shortstop Omar Medina, in his 3rd season in the majors, was named Elimination Round MVP.
The Nevada Speeders dropped their game 1 by an embarassing 7-1 as the Cowboys fired the opening shot of that series. Robbie McWeeney pitched a gem, holding the Speeders to their single run scored in the first inning, and just 5 hits total, while tallying 11 K’s. Solid contact and two taters scored the Arizona runs, and it looked like they would command the series and set up a rematch with the Admirals in the MLCS. But things quickly turned in game 2, as Nevada found their footing, taking the Cowboys to extras and outlasting them in an 11-inning endurance race, evening the series.
The Speeders took the series lead after a 5-3 win when the series came to Nevada, and finally beat out the Cowboys in a high-scoring 22-run affair, the saw Arizona sluggers Jorge Velazquez and Joe Kueppers both go yard twice. But Nevada prevailed, and Cain Morris picked up a second series save, while shortstop Dave Lopez homered and was named series MVP after a 12-10 win.
The Admirals will now take on the Speeders with the home field advantage in their favor. Both teams ended the season missing their #1 starters, so we expect a high-scoring, free-swinging offensive battle, with the defensively proficient Admirals slightly favored over the defending champ Admirals.