Championship Series Preview: Asheville Tourists vs Hickory Crawdads


The Colorado Rockies’ affiliate in the South Atlantic League, the Asheville Tourists, starts the championship series tonight. Here’s what you need to know.

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Congratulations to the Asheville Tourists! The Colorado Rockies’ class A club in the South Atlantic League won their playoff series against the Savannah Sand Gnats this past week, and are now in the best-of-five Championship Series against the geographic rival Hickory Crawdads.

Even though they are in different divisions of the South Atlantic League, the two clubs are separated by just 77 miles and a little over an hour on Interstate 40 across western North Carolina (yes, I’m a North Carolinian and yes, I love the South Atlantic League!).

If you missed any of the games from the Tourists’ first playoff series, catch up with game one, game two, and game three — and now get ready for the SAL Championship Series that starts tonight!

As we’ve been doing with the Tourists’ first playoff series, we’ll have coverage of all the games in the championship series as Asheville hopefully brings home their second straight South Atlantic League championship!

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GAME ONE — Monday, September 14, 7:05 pm ET
Asheville Tourists @ Hickory Crawdads

GAME TWO — Tuesday, September 15, 7:05 pm ET
Asheville Tourists @ Hickory Crawdads

GAME THREE — Thursday, September 17, 7:05 pm ET
Hickory Crawdads @ Asheville Tourists

GAME FOUR (if necessary) — Friday, September 18, 7:05 pm ET
Hickory Crawdads @ Asheville Tourists

GAME FIVE (if necessary) — Saturday, September 19, 6:05 pm ET
Hickory Crawdads @ Asheville Tourists

As of press time this morning, both teams are being very quiet about who is expected to start throughout the series. The only announced pitcher for the entire set is Asheville’s Helmis Rodriguez tonight against the Crawdads; neither team has yet announced a pitcher besides that.

For Asheville, obviously expect Jesus Tinoco, Carlos Polanco, and Sam Howard to start games in addition to Rodriguez, as well as Tyler Chatwood again (rehab assignment), and perhaps even Grahamm Wiest. We’ll see who ends up starting as the series goes on, though!

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Tourists Notes: Including the playoffs, the Tourists are 39-32 on the road in 2015. … At McCormick Field, their home base, they’ve gone just 35-36, though, finding it harder to win in their home park than away from Asheville. … Shane Hoelscher won the South Atlantic League batting title with a .328 average, beating his next closer competitor (Luis Guillorme of the Savannah Sand Gnats) by ten points. … The five-man starting rotation for the Tourists (Jesus Tinoco, Sam Howard, Carlos Polanco, Helmis Rodriguez, and Grahamm Wiest) have combined to go 38-27 this year, giving Asheville some great consistency on the mound. … Reliever Jerry Vasto threw 2.1 scoreless innings across two appearances in the Tourists’ first playoff series, and will certainly factor in to the finals. … Luis Jean hit the first home run of his season on Saturday night to clinch the series victory for Asheville in his 90th game — and 306th at-bat — of 2015. What a time to decide to go yard!

Crawdads Notes: Including the playoffs, the Crawdads are 83-58 on the season, compared to the lowly 74-68 Tourists. … The Crawdads are downright dominant at home, with a 45-26 record (including playoffs), while they are just 38-32 on the road away from L.P. Frans Stadium. … Hickory’s not a great hitting team, batting just .256 as a club, which is right near the league average. However, they pitch very well; where Asheville has a 3.69 team ERA, Hickory clocks in at 3.19, second-best in the South Atlantic League. … Collin Wiles and Ariel Jurado lead the way for Hickory on the mound, going a combined 23-4 in 44 games/35 starts. … By the way, Hickory is the Texas Rangers’ class A affiliate.

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