Sept. 16, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Purdue baseball alumnus Dan Black reached base safely in nine of the 10 playoff games while batting cleanup every night, helping lead his Birmingham Barons team to the Double-A Southern League title.
The Barons, a Chicago White Sox affiliate, won the Southern League title Sunday (Sept. 15) with a decisive game five victory against the Mobile BayBears (Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate). Birmingham also beat the Tennessee Smokies (Chicago Cubs affiliate) in a tight five-game series in the semifinal round, winning the decisive game five at Tennessee. The Barons won the Southern League title for the first time since 2002.
Black (2007-09) was 9-for-36 with three doubles, four RBI and seven walks in the 10 playoff games. He had a pair of hits in the first and final games of the championship series. Indiana University alumnus Micah Johnson (2010-12) was named the MVP of the championship series, punctuating a MiLB postseason in which he batted .368 with seven stolen bases and 12 runs scored.
Birmingham won the first two games of both playoff series only to see the opposition take the next two to force a pair of game fives. Home-field advantage against Mobile helped carry the Barons to their seventh Southern League title in their first season at their new ballpark (Regions Field). Birmingham won the Northern Division first-half title and finished the regular season with a 77-63 overall record.
Black was named a mid-season and post-season All-Star for Birmingham this year. As a season-long constant in the middle of the lineup, the switch hitter batted .290 with 28 doubles, 17 home runs, 83 RBI and 91 walks. He finished the regular season ranked second in the Southern League in RBI and on-base percentage (.411). Black was named the 2012 Carolina League MVP and is now a three-time post-season All-Star.
Nick Wittgren (2011-12) was also named a mid-season and post-season All-Star this summer while pitching in the Miami Marlins organization. He led the Florida State League with 25 saves and finished the season at the Double-A level.
Kevin Plawecki (2010-12) helped the Savannah Sand Gnats (New York Mets affiliate) win the first-half division title in Class A South Atlantic League, clinching a playoff berth. Plawecki was promoted to the High-A level after the SAL All-Star Game. Savannah went on to win the South Atlantic League title this month.