LAFFERTY - The Steele and Cook Insurance Ohio Valley Baseball League championship series will get under way here tonight, weather permitting.
The third-seeded Dodgers (20-6) will welcome No. 5 seed Maynard (18-7) to the Community Park diamond for game one of the best-of-5. The first pitch is set for 6.
Lafferty, in its first season back in the league, is comprised mostly of former Union Local players, with a couple of former OVAC products sprinkled in.
The Dodgers are expected to hand the baseball to right-handed ace Mark Smyth, a former Edison High and current West Liberty University standout. Maynard will counter with veteran righty Mark Cisar, the former Magnolia product and current Union Local baseball coach.
After an 0-2 start, the Dodgers reeled off six straight wins before dropping a 7-4 decision at Neffs. They proceeded to win their next eight to improve to 14-2. Following a 4-2 setback at Weirton, Lafferty won its last two regular-season encounters.
A 1-0 loss to Neffs in the first playoff game had Lafferty with its backs to the wall, but the Dodgers won the next two games to oust the defending runnerups. Lafferty knocked off second-seeded Weirton in the first game of its best-of-3 semifinal, but then lost Game Two on its home field to setup a winner-take-all Game Three in Weirton last Sunday.
The Dodgers didn't waste any time in jumping all over the error-prone Red Dons as they plated seven runs in the first and two more in the second en route to a 9-0 shellacking.
However, Lafferty will be without the services of its player/manager Jordan Barbina, who is on vacation and will miss tonight's action. He is expected back for game two Friday at Maynard.
Maynard, meanwhile, has been resting since eliminating the top-seeded Wheeling Cardinals last Friday in two games.
Laney Simone's crew has won seven of its last eight outings, including a pair of long-time rival Barton in the first round, en route to reaching the championship finals.
Maynard started the season on a 10-3 tear, but dropped three of its final seven to finish at 14-6.
Maynard is led by a solid pitching staff that includes Cisar, Logan Hudson and Sam Vincenzo. Cisar is also the team's leading hitter and is around the .800 mark in his last four games.
As mentioned earlier, Game Two is set for Friday at Firemen's Field in Maynard at 6 p.m. Game three will be played Sunday at 1 p.m. at Lafferty, with games four and five - if needed - being played Monday and Tuesday in Maynard and Lafferty, respectively, at 6.
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