Starting with the 2019 season, the Northwoods League will have a new playoff format and change the way extra innings will be handled. These changes are aimed at enhancing both the fan and player experience.

“We believe the resulting benefits will make for a very exciting playoff run, great game finishes, and additional protections for our players,” said Northwoods League President Gary Hoover.

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 make 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.

Homefield 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. Homefield advantage for the League Championship Game will go to the team with the best overall record.

“The energy of our playoff games is electric. Now with the new playoff format, more fans will get to experience that. Every team that qualifies for the postseason will host at least one playoff game,” said Bismarck Larks general manager John Bollinger. “Not only is it great for our fans, but if our players earn a post season spot, they are guaranteed at least two of these extra exciting games. This format gives the players fairer shot at getting to 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 in extra-innings will make these games tense and thrilling,” said Bollinger. “The rule also reduces the innings our pitchers will have to pitch. Injury prevention for our pitchers is important and this rule emphasizes 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 Bismarck Larks are a proud affiliate of the Northwoods League, the proven leader in development of elite college baseball players. The Larks mission is to use FUN to make a difference in the lives of our families, businesses, players, and communities we serve. This is accomplished with a commitment to putting fans first and providing high quality family entertainment at affordable prices. In 2018, the Larks sold out 30 of their 36 home games in Bismarck Municipal Ballpark, home of Dakota Community Bank and Trust Field. The Larks were named Northwoods Organization of the Year in 2017 and 2018.

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.

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