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Published On: November 30th, 2018

Northwoods League Announces New Playoff Format and Extra Innings Change

NWL to adopt rule of placing runner on second base to start all extra innings

Rochester, Minn. – Starting with the 2019 season the Northwoods League has announced a new playoff format as well as changes to how extra innings will be handled.

“Starting with our 2019 season the Northwoods League is adopting rule changes pertaining specifically to our playoff format and how extra innings shall be played that are aimed at enhancing both the fan and player experience,” said NWL President Gary Hoover.  “We believe the resulting benefits will make for a very exciting playoff run, great game finishes, and additional protections for our players.”

With new division realignment to the Great Lakes and Great Plains and along with that, East and

 West sub-divisions within each, the League has adopted a new playoff format. This new playoff format will see first and second half sub-divisional winners eligible for the playoffs. The two playoff eligible teams in each sub-division will compete in a best of three Sub-Divisional Series. The two Sub-Divisional Series winners will play a one-game Divisional Championship Game.  Home field advantage for the Divisional Championship Game will go to the team with the best overall record. The two Divisional Game winners will then play a one-game League Championship.  Home field advantage for the League Championship Game will go to the team with the best overall record.

“The new playoff format will be something the fans will enjoy seeing as every team that qualifies for postseason play will now have the opportunity to host a playoff game,” said Eau Claire Express Owner and Field Manager Dale Varsho. “It will also ensure that a team that has a gr


eat regular season will not be eliminated in a single game. It should do more to ensure we see the best teams in the League in the Championship Game.”

Extra innings will now be handled in a similar way to what Minor League Baseball implemented for the past season. For all regular season games but not including playoff games, all extra innings will begin with a runner on second base. The runner at second base will be the player in the batting order position previous to the leadoff batter of the inning (or a substitute for that player).

“Placing a runner on second base for extra-inning games will take necessary steps to speed up the pace of play for the League, said Varsho. “The rule also helps limit the amount of innings our pitchers will have to pitch. Injury prevention for our pitchers is important and this rule along with our pitch count rules help us emphasize that.”

For purposes of calculating earned runs, the runner who begins an inning on second base pursuant to this rule shall be deemed to be a runner who has reached second base because of a fielding error, but no error shall be charged to the opposing team or to any player.  The loss in such extra-inning games still counts against the pitcher.



The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 25-year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, over 200 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC), Brandon Crawford (SFG) and Chris Sale (BOS). As well as MLB All-Stars Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (MIL). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.