2022 Savannah Bananas vs Wilson Tobs

CPL Petitt Cup Preview: Bananas, Tobs To Face Off For 2022 Title

CPL Petitt Cup Preview: Bananas, Tobs To Face Off For 2022 Title

The Savannah Bananas and Wilson Tobs are set to meet for the 2022 CPL Petitt Cup Championship Series. The Bananas are the defending champions.

Aug 4, 2022 by Stephen Kerr
CPL Petitt Cup Preview: Bananas, Tobs To Face Off For 2022 Title

Teams advancing to the CPL Petitt Cup Championship Series don't always get much time to celebrate. 

The defending champion Savannah Bananas took just two games to win their West Divisional Series against the Macon Bacon. They then sat back and waited as the Morehead City Marlins and Wilson Tobs battled in an East Divisional Series that featured three games, after a rainout delayed Game 1.

To Bananas head coach Tyler Gillum, it's all relative.

"You just keep playing and keep the momentum going," said Gillum, the CPL Coach of the Year in 2021 after leading the Bananas to the second league title in team history. "I think it's all about getting your work in and your routines. People make a bigger deal out of it than what it actually is. You still gotta show up, you still gotta play."

The question of who the Bananas would face was answered after Wednesday's East Divisional Series wrapped up, with the Tobs pulling off a 2-1 series upset over the division-winning Marlins. 

The Tobs were down to their final out in Game 2 and on the brink of going home, until a walk-off hit staved off elimination. That seemed to take the spark out of the Marlins, who were looking to make their second straight appearance in the Championship Series and get a rematch with the Bananas.

"Our guys had a great attitude all the way through (the series)," said Tobs head coach Harry Markotay, who's in his third season as head coach and fourth overall with the team. "They showed a lot of determination in Game 2. You could feel the momentum shift in the crowd and in the players on both sides."

One of the keys to the Bananas' success has been their base running. Savannah stole 154 bases during the regular season, far above any other team in the CPL. 

That pedal-to-the-metal philosophy has continued in the postseason, with seven steals against the Bacon. The Bananas would've had other opportunities to steal more, if it hadn't been for balls in play or bunting at the same time. It's a system Gillum calls "the Green Light Special."

"When the guys play free and loose, they play better and faster," Gillum explained. "That's what we want to do. We want to put pressure on other teams."

Brody Wortham has been swinging a hot bat for the Bananas this postseason, going 5-for-9 with a home run, four RBIs, three runs and three steals. The pitching staff, one of the best in the CPL all season, allowed only four earned runs over the two games.

"We took care of business like we should have," Gillum said. "Anytime you get into the playoffs, you never know what's going to happen. (The Bacon) have got a good group over there, and we've had some battles all summer. Once you do a three-game series, you never know how your team's going to react."

The Tobs didn't have a home run in the Divisional Series until Game 3, when catcher Sammy Sass and first baseman Matt Schark each hit one, but they led the CPL with 53 during the regular season, setting a franchise record. Markotay acknowledged the offense has shifted to more of a small-ball approach toward the end of the season.

"We have some big bats and some guys who can run it out," Markotay said. "We have a different identity offensively than we did at the beginning of the summer. Now, we're trying to attack from all angles, run the bases, take our walks. When the time comes, those home runs will come."

Schark and infielder Jake Lysaght led the Tobs with six hits each against the Marlins. Lysaght, who had just eight hits during the summer, is heating up heading into the championship series.

"He's a prime example of sticking it out through the summer, having determination and grit and just coming to the park every day to get better," Markotay said of Lysaght. "He started quite a bit for us early on. We got some more guys in and we weren't able to get him in and he struggled a little bit. So, he started coming to the park and focusing on getting better."

Markotay hadn't announced a starting pitcher for Game 1 as of Thursday morning, while Gillum will start Gavin Oswald on the mound for the Bananas. The Tobs are looking to win their first Petitt Cup since becoming one of the founding teams in the CPL, and the Bananas are hoping for a repeat.

The Championship Series marks the first meeting between the two teams all season, and both have a short time to analyze each other. That's not of great concern to Gillum.

"The main thing is just focusing on us, playing our game and sticking to our approach at the plate," Gillum said. "If we execute pitches and have quality, tough at-bats, we'll have a good series."

Game 1 will take place in Wilson, and Savannah will host Game 2 and Game 3, if necessary. 

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