Kinston rolls into the Carolina League Playoffs for a CL record seventh straight year, with game one of the Southern Division Series Wednesday night at Grainger Stadium. Kinston ended the regular season winning six games in a row and eight of their last ten games. Kinston won both the first and second half titles in the Southern Division for the first time since 2001. The K-Tribe ended the season with an 87-52 overall record, the best in the Carolina League and third most wins in all of Minor League Baseball. San Francisco affiliate Low A Augusta finished the season 89-51, Milwaukee’s Triple A affiliate Nashville finished 89-55.
Kinston will face a familiar opponent in the Salem Avalanche, the Advanced A Affiliate of the Houston Astros. The Southern Division Series is a rematch of last season’s playoffs, when Kinston swept Salem in two games in route to a Carolina League Championship. Kinston was 12-8 against Salem this season, including a 7-3 record at Grainger Stadium. Salem has the second best overall record in the Carolina League at 79-60. The Avalanche boast the Carolina League batting champion Billy Hart, who beat out his teammate Mitch Einertson, taking the crown with a .305 batting average this season (.000472 better than Einertson, also with a .305 average). Einertson was named the Carolina League MVP, mashing 11 home runs and 87 RBI. He finished first in the CL with 40 doubles, third in extra base hits with 54, fourth in the league with 136 hits and fifth in slugging with a .482 mark. Salem was tied with Kinston for the best team batting average in the CL (.271) and finished just behind Kinston with a 3.80 team ERA, third in the Carolina League.
Kinston will send Jim Deters to the mound for game one. Deters (12-4, 2.24) finished the year with the lowest ERA in the Carolina League and the fourth most wins. A Mid-Season All Star after spending the first half of the season in the bullpen, Deters was put into the starting rotation on July 24th, making eight consecutive starts. Deters is 7-1 with a 1.93 ERA as a starter this season. He is 5-3 with a 2.56 ERA as a reliever. Deters won his last two starts and last time out went 5 2/3 innings, giving up a season high eight hits while giving up three earned runs. Deters has walked just 21 batter in 112.1 innings this season. Deters is 3-0 with a 1.76 ERA in four appearances (one start) against Salem this season. Salem will counter with left hander Sergio Perez (7-10, 4.00). Perez is 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA in five games against Kinston this season.
In the 21 seasons as a Cleveland Affiliate, Kinston is appearing in the playoffs for the 16th year and their 11th appearance in the last 13 years. In the previous 15 playoff appearances, Kinston has advanced to the Mills Cup Championship Series 11 times, winning it all five times. The defending Carolina League Champion Kinston Indians will try to become the first team since 1999 and just the fifth team in CL history to repeat as Mills Cup Champions (Raleigh 46-47, Winston-Salem 50-51, Lynchburg 83-84, Winston-Salem 85-85 and Wilmington 98-99). Kinston will also try to become the second team in Carolina League History to make the Mills Cup Championship Series in four consecutive seasons (Wilmington 93-96). Kinston will also try to become the second team in League History to win a Carolina League Championship in three out of four consecutive years (Wilmington 96, 98, 99).
Game one of the Southern Division Series starts Wednesday at 7pm in Historic Grainger Stadium.