DURHAM, NC – The 2014 American Association championship series is about to get underway between the decorated Wichita Wingnuts and the resilient Lincoln Saltdogs. On Wednesday night, the two combatants will face off in game one of the best-of-five series at Haymarket Park in Lincoln, NE.
Wichita enters the finals on a mission to erase the last two championship series’ from memory. The Wingnuts have reached the finals each of the last two postseasons, but have yet to capture an American Association title. Thus far, however, the 2014 Wingnuts have done a fine job of creating their own legacy.
The Wingnuts feature a league-best four all-stars and are led by the American Association Manager of the Year in Kevin Hooper, who earned the top-skipper award for the second straight year and the third time overall. This Wichita club dominated in the regular season with a league- and franchise-record 73-27 mark to run away with the South Division. Wichita then followed up its impressive regular season by knocking off the Laredo Lemurs in four games in the semifinals to return to the championship series.
Lincoln battled hard to get to the championship series. The Saltdogs were one loss from elimination in their semifinals series against the Winnipeg Goldeyes. Down 2-1 heading into game four, Lincoln came away with a clutch 9-2 victory to force a series-deciding fifth game. In game five, Joe Bisenius put the Saltdogs on his back with a complete-game shutout and 11 strikeouts to carry Lincoln to the finals.
Manager Ken Oberkfell is in his second season as the leader of the Saltdogs and is trying to bring a championship back to Lincoln for the first time since 2009. Oberkfell himself is after his first title as a manager since he led the St. Lucie Mets to the 2003 Florida State League championship. In 2014, Oberkfell’s Saltdogs finished the regular season with a 54-46 record and edged Gary SouthShore by one game to win the Central Division.
Game one of the 2014 American Association championship series is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. EST at Haymarket Park in Lincoln, NE. For a full championship series schedule, click here.