2023 Frontier League Wild Card Games

Frontier League Wild Card Preview: Here's What You Need To Know

Frontier League Wild Card Preview: Here's What You Need To Know

Here’s a preview of each of the Frontier League Playoffs’ Wild Card Games, both of which will be broadcast live on FloBaseball on Tuesday night.

Sep 4, 2023 by Briar Napier
Frontier League Wild Card Preview: Here's What You Need To Know

In the Frontier League season, there’s only one September.

It’s where legends are made, hearts are broken and champions are crowned. It’s no different for the 2023 season as the Frontier League Playoffs begin this week and will continue along until two teams — one from both the East and West Divisions — are left standing to battle it out against each other in the Championship Series beginning Sept. 12 on FloBaseball.

The appetizer for all the excitement to come is a two-game showcase on Tuesday that you’ll definitely not want to miss.

The Frontier’s Wild Card Games, in which the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds in the East and West will battle it out in a one-night-only, loser-goes-home battle to determine who plays their respective division’s No. 1 seed in the Divisional Series later on this week, will take place Tuesday. Only one team from each division can move on, and there’s only one chance for these teams to get it right, or else their season ends right then and there.

The tension has significantly ramped up, and after a thrilling end to the regular season, it only makes sense that a little more drama is going to be added to the fire very, very soon.

Here’s a preview of each of the Frontier League Playoffs’ Wild Card Games, both of which will be broadcast live on FloBaseball on Tuesday night:

NOTE: First-pitch game times are listed in Eastern Time and are subject to change.

East Division: Sussex County Miners vs. New Jersey Jackals, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday

The race for the playoffs in the East got wild on the regular season’s final weekend as five different teams had major postseason implications on the line across the final two games. 

Two of those teams were the Miners and Jackals, and for different reasons. New Jersey, the East’s No. 2 seed, finished with a 60-35 record to tie with the defending champion Quebec Capitales for both the best record in the division and the Frontier as a whole. 

However, because Quebec won the season series between New Jersey 6-3, the Capitales owned the tiebreaker and therefore earned the first-round bye and top seed in the East following Sunday’s games, clinching it with a wild 4-3, walk-off win over the Ottawa Titans. Deflating ending aside, getting to the playoffs at all is a big moment in the Jackals’ history; it’s the team’s first trip to the Frontier postseason since joining from the ashes of the Can-Am League for the 2021 season, and the highly decorated club — which has won a total six league championships elsewhere — now gets a big chance to do it in one of the top independent baseball leagues on the continent. 

In order to get a crack at the Capitales once again in the Divisional Series, however, they first must get through the Miners, who themselves had an eventful journey to getting to this point. With 12 regular season games left to play just a couple of weeks ago, Sussex County was four games back of the Tri-City Valleycats for the third and final playoff spot in the East. Lo and behold, the Miners went 9-3 in their final 12 games — which included both a series win over Quebec and an epic seven-game winning streak to close the season — to snag the final slot in dramatic fashion, taking advantage of a late New York Boulders slide and a tiebreaker over Tri-City to keep their season alive with a 55-40 record. 

There may be magic in the air in the Miners’ dugout. Still, reality says that the Jackals dominated the season series 7-2 and no team in the Frontier hits for a better average (.297), has driven in more runs (655), or hit more home runs (195) in the regular season than New Jersey, either. But Sussex County’s pitching — the best by team ERA in the league at 3.83 — is just as elite and effective, meaning that somehow, someway, in one game to decide who moves on to square off with Quebec, something’s gotta give.

West Division: Evansville Otters vs. Schaumburg Boomers, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Unlike the chaotic East, the playoff picture in the West has been wrapped up for some time now, with the Gateway Grizzlies capturing the title and top seed well before the final weekend with a 59-37 mark. 

Schaumburg and Evansville, with each well past fourth-place Washington — the No. 3 Otters finished five games clear of the Washington Wild Things following the end of play Sunday — looked destined for a postseason collision course as the end of the regular season got closer, and here it is. 

Though Evansville is the lower seed, it captured the season series over Schaumburg 6-3 including, importantly, when the Otters nabbed a series win over the Boomers on the regular season’s final weekend, giving fans and observers perhaps a bit of a preview of what’s to come in the Wild Card Game. If it’s anything like how Game 1 went Friday, when Evansville blasted 15 hits past Schaumburg and got a three-hitter from its pitching duo of Braden Scott and James Krick in a 9-1 win, the Boomers might be in trouble. If it’s resembling Game 2, when the Boomers won 6-1 behind a four-run first inning and seven frames of one-run ball thrown by starting pitcher Austin Gossmann, then the Otters will need to step their game up. 

Nevertheless, both teams have major award winners and difference makers ready to make their marks and try and get their squads to the Divisional Series, leaving the West’s one-game decider a game chock-full of talent in a high-pressure environment. Schaumburg’s Chase Dawson was named the league’s best second baseman as part of the All-Frontier Team after batting .335 and a third consecutive season of over 60 RBIs for the Boomers, while Evansville’s Noah Myers was tabbed as the Frontier’s Rookie of the Year in the outfield after blasting 17 home runs and 55 RBIs to go along with 41 stolen bases, the fifth-most in the league. 

Played in what was named the Frontier’s best ballpark of the season on top of it all, Wintrust Field in Schaumburg, the bright lights of suburban Chicago will play host to what should be a grand stage with high stakes this week to decide who moves on.