Shake hands

Matt Schultz, Brady Berg and Tom Johnson shake hands after a 3-1 win over the Brill Millers.

 

Considering the rollercoaster-like season that the Braves have been having this year, it’s difficult to comprehend how they have maintained a chance at making the playoffs as the season begins to concludes.

Only a few weeks of schedule games are left for the Braves to secure a playoff spot before the postseason begins in the middle of August. Despite having large swings in their season, the Braves still have a fighting chance to cash in on a playoff berth in the coming weeks.

Here’s the scenario: If the Braves win their next three conference games, they are guaranteed a playoff spot.

Anything other than that, then there is a chance they are left on the outside looking in.

The must-win game to keep the season alive was against the Brill Millers on July 21. From the moment of the first pitch at Osceola’s own Oakey Park, the atmosphere resembled that of a playoff game.

There were seven innings of highly contested baseball with errors and mental mistakes being few and far between, along with an atmosphere and style of game that is rarely found in a regular season contest. The score was close through the sixth inning, the Braves holding a 2-1 lead. In the seventh inning, the Braves hit a one-out triple, followed by an RBI single to shallow center field, giving the Braves an insurance run and a 3-1 lead.

The Braves’ 3-1 lead ended up being enough to earn a tough victory against one of the teams they are in a race with for one of the two remaining playoff spots.

Braves player/manager Brian Hronski discussed what the victory means for their season.

“I told the guys before the game that our season is on the line. If we lose this game our playoff chances are pretty much eliminated. This win sets us up for next weekend, we have three games we can win and two of them are at home. I’m really proud of the team that showed up today,” Hronski said.

The Braves also had excellent communication in the field throughout the game: players calling out potential double plays, teammates letting other teammates know what position they need to be in at different times, and positive remarks whenever somebody made an impressive play.

“The focus is always better when your back is against the wall. It helps when I’m on the field, I’m seeing and saying things that I would normally be saying from the dugout,” Hronski added.

Following a crucial victory to keep the season alive, suddenly the Braves’ morale has been boosted and there is a palpable level of confidence circulating throughout the dugout.

“I could totally see us winning two of our three games next week, giving us a chance to sneak into the playoffs. We’re done with Spooner, and we can beat Hayward and we can potentially beat them in a doubleheader,” Hronski said.

Next weekend the Braves finally get their chance to secure a playoff spot. On July 27 they host a doubleheader at Oakey Park against the Hayward Hawks. First pitch for the opening game is set for 2:00 p.m; first pitch for the second game is scheduled for 5 p.m.

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