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Bowie Baysox vs. Akron Aeros -- Game 1 preview

Baseball fans in the area have been waiting 11 years for this moment. I'm not talking about the Orioles' return to the postseason, but it's pretty close if you're a fan of the team's minor league affiliates.

The Bowie Baysox return to the postseason tonight for the first time since 1997 with a game against the Akron Aeros. The two teams will play a best-of-five series and the winner will advance to play either the Trenton Thunder or Portland Sea Dogs in the championship series.

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Bowie and Akron met 24 times during the regular season, but the two teams haven't played each other since July 10. The Aeros won 13 games and the Baysox had 11 victories.

For the people that asked, here are the tentative pitching matchups for the playoff series between Bowie and Akron:

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Game 1 -- Tonight, 7:05 p.m., at Bowie
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Bowie: Jason Berken (12-4, 3.58 ERA)

Akron: Scott Lewis (6-2, 2.33 ERA)

Game 2 -- Tomorrow, 7:05 p.m., at Bowie

Bowie: Brad Bergesen (15-5, 3.11 ERA)

Akron: J.D. Martin (11-3, 2.49 ERA)

Game 3 -- Friday, 7:05 p.m., at Akron

Bowie: David Hernandez (10-4, 2.68 ERA)

Akron: Ryan Edell (7-8, 3.80 ERA)

Game 4 -- Saturday, 7:05 p.m., at Akron (if necessary)

Bowie: Chris Tillman (11-4, 3.18 ERA)

Akron: Frank Herrmann (11-6, 4.10 ERA)

Game 5 -- Sunday, 4:05 p.m., at Bowie (if necessary)

Bowie: Zach Clark (4-2, 3.60 ERA)

Akron: Kevin Dixon (9-11, 4.41 ERA)

Tonight's notes

* Berken was 2-2 with a 1.71 ERA in six starts against the Aeros this season. He suffered the loss in his last start against the Trenton Thunder on Aug. 28 after allowing six runs (five earned) and seven hits in four innings. Prior to that outing, Berken had pitched 14 consecutive scoreless innings.

* Lewis was 2-0 with a 5.02 ERA in three starts against the Baysox in 2008. In the two victories, he only allowed eight hits in 10 scoreless innings. The Baysox scored eight runs, however, in 3 1/3 innings against Lewis on June 23 in Akron.

* Baysox third baseman Jeff Nettles hit .313 with three doubles, four home runs, 13 RBIs and 16 runs scored in 24 games against the Aeros in 2008. Baysox right fielder Nolan Reimold hit .230 with five doubles, three home runs, 12 RBIs and 13 runs scored in 24 games against Akron.

* Bowie outfielder Jonathan Tucker had a .397 batting average with four doubles, four RBIs and 14 runs scored in 20 games against the Aeros. Bowie catcher Matt Wieters only played in three games against Akron this year, but he hit .400 with two doubles, one home run, four RBIs and two runs scored against the Aeros.

* Akron third baseman Wes Hodges, who tied former Baysox outfielder Lou Montanez for the most RBIs in the Eastern League (97), hit .256 with two home runs and 17 RBIs in 23 games against Bowie in 2008. Aeros shortstop Josh Rodriguez hit four of his seven home runs in 2008 against the Baysox. He had a .261 batting average with seven doubles, four home runs, nine RBIs and 13 runs scored in 24 games against Bowie. Akron left fielder Nathan Panther had 11 RBIs and nine runs scored in 15 games against the Baysox. He is hitting .255 with six doubles against them.

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