(Clarinda) -- The Clarinda A's start play in the MINK League Championship Series on Thursday.
The North Division champion A's travel to Nevada (Mo.) on Thursday at 7:00 for Game 1 of the 2-out-of-3 championship series to determine the league's champion. Game 2 and 3 (if needed) are in Clarinda on Friday and Saturday, both at 7:00.
The A's haven't played since Sunday, but are riding a 7-game winning streak that got the A's to 28-14 in the MINK, 7 games better than St. Joe and Chillicothe in the north and 3 games better than Nevada.
KMA Sports talked with Clarinda A's manager Ryan Eberly for Thursday's Sports Feature and he says the pitching has improved quite a bit over the last few weeks and that's the main reason they ran away with the North Division. He says his pitchers aren't walking as many, have turned a lot of double plays, and are challenging hitters.
The offense has been solid up and down the order, and always "seem to have right guy come up and produce in the right situation," according to Eberly.
Nevada advanced to the championship series with a walk-off win over Sedalia in a winner-take-all game on Tuesday and Eberly says his team has fared better against Nevada than they had against Sedalia this season, but everything is a "new ball game" when it comes to the championship series. Eberly says it's the first time Clarinda has been in the MINK Final in this format. They haven't played since Sunday and Eberly says they're excited to get back at it on Thursday.
It's a 7:00 start time on Friday for Game 2 and if a Game 3 is needed on Saturday, that will start at 7:00 as well from Clarinda Municipal Stadium - Eberly Field. Eberly encourages everyone to come to the game(s) saying it's "very good baseball." He says with the Page County Fair going on as well, fair-goers can check out the fair for awhile, then come over to the ballpark and cheer on the A's.
Both the A's and Griffons have automatically qualified for the NBC World Series, which starts on Friday in Wichita. It's a new format for the World Series this year, which has been struggling financially in recent years. "The First Week" starts on Friday with 16 teams playing a double-elimination tournament with the top two teams advancing to "Championship Week", which is another 16-team double elimination tournament, which begins on Friday, August 2nd. Both Clarinda and Nevada are automatically into Championship Week. MINK League member Ozark is playing in the First Week.
Eberly says his team will have another break of about a week between the MINK Finals and the World Series. He says his team did intrasquad work this week to stay game-ready and that will be a majority of the work next week as well. Eberly says this is a team that is "built for Wichita" with good speed on the turf and they hit it well from gap-to-gap and he's excited about the opportunity to play in Wichita again.
You can hear the full interview with Eberly on Thursday's Sports Feature at 9:15, 1:45, and 6:20. It's also available on-line by clicking the Sports Feature button on our Local Sports News page.
Article courtesy KMALand.com / Bryan Clark; Photo from earlier in the season, courtesy Joe Moore, J&C Photography, Clarinda