| July 20, 2021
No matter which team comes away with the 2021 California Collegiate League (CCL) State Championship presented by Placer Valley Tourism, their path to the title will be unlike any the CCL has seen before. Literally.
With a postseason structure newly designed for the 2021 season, the CCL is aiming for an improved championship experience.
The new format departs from the previous best-of-three series in the North and three-team single elimination bracket in the South, now merging the two divisions into a unified five-team, double-elimination tournament to determine the California State Champion.
2021 CCL State Championship
Presented by Placer Valley Tourism
Wednesday, August 4, to Friday, August 6, 2021
McBean Stadium // 61 McBean Park Dr., Lincoln, CA 95648
The team with the best overall record across both divisions will earn the top seed, while the next-best record in the opposite division will earn the two-seed. Three wild card teams with the best remaining records will fill up the rest of the playoff pool, and the entire tournament will take place from Aug. 4-6.
Orange County Riptide general manager Moe Geohagen designed the format, and the league planned to implement it in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the season. After tweaks to Geohagen’s initial proposal, the CCL is primed to debut the new championship.
“We want to culminate the end of the season with something that’s special for [the players],” CCL Executive Director Aaron Milam said. “We said, ‘let’s make something new, let’s make it here.’”
The location is new this year as well; the Lincoln Potters will host the championship at McBean Stadium northeast of San Francisco, bringing a major CCL event to the North for the first time.
How did Lincoln end up with the prestigious honor of hosting? According to Potters general manager Matt Lundgren, it was as simple as just being first to volunteer.
“One day, when the league brought the idea up, I just threw our name into the hat,” Lundgren said.
Of course, there was more to it than that. CCL Commissioner Rick Turner cites Lincoln as an organization dedicated to improving the product and brand of CCL baseball. Lundgren also believes the facilities and fan support in Lincoln will make for an ideal host.
With the 2021 CCL Showcase presented by ABDG already taking place at the MLB Academy in the South division, the championship committee felt it was important to get a major event at a North division host.
“It is paramount that the league starts to recognize the opportunity we have,” Turner said. “We’re really strong down South, but if there’s a growth opportunity, it would be up North.”
Both Turner and Lundgren will judge the success of the new format by the product on the field; they hope it will be a great experience for the players first and foremost. Everything else – facilities, fan support, revenue gain – will be taken into account as well, but Lundgren hopes this will become a staple of the league.
Another aspect in the works is the awards. As of now, Louisville Slugger items will be designed for the Most Valuable Player and Most Outstanding Pitcher, with possibilities for more as planning progresses.
Turner also said he’d like to eventually see the Showcase and Championship flip locations annually, moving the Showcase up North and bringing the Championship to the South every other year. He also said he is open to establishing more league-wide events in future seasons, but for now the CCL is strictly focusing on this year.
More than anything, Turner is excited for the final product, given all the effort put into it.
“They’re not just phoning it in, going through the motions because it doesn’t seem like it matters,” Turner said. “The competition is the biggest thing and the early indications are it’ll be a spirited season with a great culmination of the state playoffs.”
-- Joe Pohoryles, CCL Reporter
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