Sunbelt Playoffs Start Friday

by Daniel Wilson

Lawrenceville – The 2021 Sunbelt League Playoffs are set to begin on Friday, July 30.  This year’s playoff format features the return of the one-game wild card round to determine who will face the top two seed in the best-of-three semi-final series.  The winners of the semi-final series will advance to the best-of-three championship series from August 5-7.

The Gainesville Braves (19-9) and Alpharetta Aviators (18-10) enter the postseason as the league’s top two seeds and will earn a first-round bye heading into the playoffs.  The wild card round will feature the Atlanta Crackers (18-10) versus the Columbus Chatt-a-Hoots (12-16) and the Gwinnett Astros (17-11) versus the Brookhaven Bucks (13-15).

This year’s playoff race came down to the wire with one game separating first from third on the final day of the regular season. The Gainesville Braves, who trailed the Alpharetta Aviators by half a game heading into Wednesday’s contests, swept both games of their doubleheader against the Columbus Chatt-a-Hoots to claim the top seed outright after Alpharetta lost their game to the Atlanta Crackers. 

Gainesville enters the postseason as the league’s hottest team, having won their last nine games and outscoring their opponents 47-5 in their final five contests.  The Braves were able to overcome an 0-6 start by winning 19 of their last 22 games to finish with the best record in the league.  Their 29 home runs this year are the most by any team in a single season, shattering the previous record of 26 set by the 2019 championship-winning Brookhaven Bucks.

Alpharetta enters the postseason as the two-seed after a historic year which saw them win an organization-record 18 games to earn their first winning season in team history.  This year marks their first playoff appearance since 2012, when they were known as the Windward Braves, and first under the leadership of current head coach Brandon Boggs.  They currently rank second in the league in batting average (.255) and ERA (3.89), also team records.

The Atlanta Crackers finished the regular season tied for second with the Aviators at 18-10 but will enter the postseason as the three-seed having lost three of four games to the Aviators in the regular season.  They will start their quest for their sixth championship appearance and fifth title in the last in the last eight seasons in the wild card round against the upstart Columbus Chatt-a-Hoots, who enter the postseason as the sixth seed.  

Columbus finished their inaugural season at 12-16 and are the first team to make a playoff appearance in their inaugural season since the East Cobb Patriots and Phenix City Crawdads in 2014.  Their 12 victories are also the most for a first-year organization since Phenix City won 19 in 2014.  The Chatt-a-Hoots also made a huge impact off the field, setting a league-record in attendance (2466) on July 17 in a game against Atlanta, averaged 1981 fans at all of their home games this year, also a league-record. 

The four-seeded Gwinnett Astros, who currently lead the Sunbelt with a .267 batting average, enters the postseason on a four-game winning streak.  Gwinnett started the season 4-0 and led the league with a 10-4 record mid-way through the season, but a costly five-game losing streak from July 5-10 doomed their chances at a top seed.  They will face the two-time defending champion Brookhaven Bucks in a rematch of the 2019 Sunbelt Championship series.  That year, Brookhaven won two out of three games in that series to claim their second straight Sunbelt League title.

Wild Card Schedule

Friday, July 30 7:05 p.m.

#3 Atlanta Crackers vs. #6 Columbus Chatt-a-Hoots (Fred Stillwell Stadium)

#4 Gwinnett Astros vs. #5 Brookhaven Bucks (Peachtree Ridge High School)

Semi-Final Schedule

Saturday, July 31 7:05 p.m.

#1 Gainesville Braves vs lowest-remaining seed (Ivey-Watson Field)

#2 Alpharetta Aviators vs highest-remaining seed (Legion Field)

Monday, August 2 7:05 p.m.

Lowest remaining seed vs #1 Gainesville Braves (TBA)

Highest remaining seed vs #2 Alpharetta Aviators (TBA)

Tuesday, August 3 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)

#1 Gainesville Braves vs lowest remaining seed (TBA)

#2 Alpharetta Aviators vs highest remaining seed (TBA)

Championship Schedule

Thursday, August 5 7:05 p.m.

Highest remaining seed vs lowest remaining seed (TBA)

Friday, August 6 7:05 p.m.

Lowest remaining seed vs highest remaining seed (TBA)

Saturday, August 7 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)

Highest remaining seed vs lowest remaining seed (TBA)


All Sunbelt League playoff games can be heard for free on the Sunbelt League Radio Network here.

The Sunbelt Summer Baseball League has provided premier summer baseball for the Southeast since 2005.  For everything around the Sunbelt League go online to for news, scores, broadcast information, and much more and on Facebook and Twitter @sunbeltbaseball and Instagram @sunbeltleague.