Complicated, yet possible, path to playoffs for baseball

The Waynesburg University baseball team hasn’t made the Presidents’ Athletic Conference tournament since 2015.

Through the first 14 games of PAC play this season, the Jackets have dug themselves a hole. They are 5-9 and three games back of fourth-place St. Vincent for the final postseason spot with four games left in the season. So, the prospects of the Jackets’ breaking their mini-playoff drought seem dim – but not impossible.

To analyze exactly how realistic it would be for the Jackets to make the postseason, here is what needs to happen. First, Waynesburg has to do its part by sweeping both on the road at Thiel Saturday and Grove City at home May 5.

Getting two wins over the Tomcats on the road will be a challenge. Thiel is third in the PAC with a 9-5 record. But it hasn’t been lighting the world on fire recently, with a modest 3-3 record in its past six conference games.

Sweeping Grove City seems more reasonable, with the Wolverines just one game ahead of the Jackets at 6-8. If Waynesburg is still alive come May 5, revenge might also play a factor.

Last year, it was Grove City that ended Waynesburg’s playoff hopes with a 14-12 win in the last contest of the year. The Jackets ended up missing the playoffs by one game.

But even if Waynesburg wins out, it still needs some help starting with St. Vincent. Like the Jackets, the Bearcats have four games remaining in the PAC, with doubleheaders against Bethany Saturday and Thomas More May 5. The second-place Saints certainly won’t make things easy for SVC, so that leaves Waynesburg with some hope.

The Bethany verse St. Vincent game will draw interest for Waynesburg on both sides. The Bison are two games ahead of the Jackets in the loss column at 5-7, so a split is a best-case scenario for the Jackets.

Unlike the other teams that Waynesburg has to worry about, Westminster has six conference games left instead of four.

Four of these games are almost a formality. The Titans should sweep winless Chatham Saturday, and should get swept by conference leaders Washington & Jefferson May 5. Friday’s doubleheader with Bethany is where things could get interesting. So, as with the St. Vincent verse Bethany game, the best thing that could happen for the Jackets would be another split.

The team that might be the least worrisome for Waynesburg is Grove City. Of the Wolverines’ four remaining games, two are with W&J, and the other two are in the Waynesburg’s control.

Geneva, who is tied with Grove City at 6-8 in the conference, could also be in a favorable situation for the Jackets. With four games against Thomas More and Thiel, it’s possible for the Golden Tornado to go 0-4.

So, a lot of things have to happen for Waynesburg’s season to go beyond May 5. It all starts with the Jackets doing their part. If Waynesburg goes 4-0, it still might not be enough. But at the end of the day, it’s all the Jackets’ can control.