TROY — The Tri-City ValleyCats are in a battle to make the Frontier League playoffs in their first season in the league.
The ValleyCats split a doubleheader with the New Jersey Jackals on Thursday at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium. The ValleyCats won the opener 5-2, but dropped the nightcap 2-1.
Meanwhile, Equipe Quebec beat the Sussex County Miners 6-1 in Quebec City. That moved Equipe Quebec into a first-place tie with the ValleyCats in the Atlantic Division as the season winds down. Each team is 45-41.
The ValleyCats have 10 games left in the season, seven of which are on the road. They begin a four-game series at the New York Boulders starting Friday. The ValleyCats return home Tuesday for a three-game series against the Miners before concluding the season next weekend at the Washington Wild Things.
Meanwhile, Equipe Quebec has nine games remaining, the next six of them at home. It hosts the Jackals for four games this weekend. After an off day Tuesday, Equipe Quebec hosts the Boulders on Wednesday and Thursday before closing the season with three games at the Miners next weekend.
The four division winners (Washington leads the Northeast, the Schaumburg Boomers lead the Central and Evansville is on top in the West) will meet in the best-of-five Division Series starting Sept. 14. The Atlantic winner faces the Northeast champ, while the Central and West winners will face off. The winners advance to the League Championship Series beginning Sept. 21
At the start of the season, the chances of the ValleyCats making the postseason would have been considered impossible. The team got off to a 4-15 start, which included a seven-game losing streak and seven losses in eight games.
But the team turned things around. They have gone 41-26 since then.
In the opening game Thursday, Todd Isaacs hit a solo homer to give the Jackals a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. But Nelson Molina hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the third to highlight a four-run inning.
Molina homered again in Game 2, giving the ValleyCats a 1-0 lead. But Josh Rehwaldt tied it for the Jackals in the second with a solo homer. Justin Wylie’s sacrifice fly in the third gave the Jackals the lead.
New Jersey 001 000 1 — 2 4 1
Tri-City 004 001 x — 5 9 0
New Jersey 011 000 0 — 2 7 0
Tri-City 100 000 0 — 1 4 2
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