CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Talk about putting a loss behind you.
West Virginia Power players took a minute, maybe two, to get over their 4-3 loss Thursday night to the Asheville Tourists. That's when the result from Greensboro, N.C., was announced over the loudspeakers: Greensboro 4, Hickory 3.
Minutes later, Power players and coaches were spraying champagne around a locker room prepared for the liquid assault, lined with plastic sheets.
The Power still has four road games to go in this regular season, but the team is coming back Wednesday to play for something bigger.
Whether it's Class A or the major leagues, a playoff berth is a time for celebration.
"That's what it's about, what's going on right now," said Power manager Michael Ryan, who was part of three division champions while playing for the Minnesota Twins. "I want them to be happy, make them understand that they've earned it, and it's OK to enjoy it."
Thanks to Hickory's loss, the Power clinched a playoff berth with its 78-58 overall record, topping all South Atlantic League Northern Division teams other than the first-half champion Hagerstown Suns. The Power and Suns are in a dead heat in the Northern Division's second-half race with those four games still on the schedule, meaning the Power can still take the second-half title, but that's immaterial. The Power is in the playoffs regardless of the final Northern Division standings.
West Virginia will take on Hagerstown in the best-of-three division series, with Game 1 Wednesday night at Appalachian Power Park. The series shifts to Hagerstown for Game 2 next Friday (Sept. 6), and Game 3 (if necessary) will be Sept. 7.
The Power last played in the SAL postseason in 2008.
"I think it's great for the city and great for the front office here," Ryan said. "Everybody here is an integral part of it and I'm glad we could share that with them. It was a great crowd tonight and we hope they come back out and support us for Game 1."
That crowd of 4,088 was mildly disappointed in Thursday's result, which boiled down to the top of the second. Power starter Kyle Haynes (1-5) enjoyed an otherwise effective night, but gave up five straight hits - three doubles - to allow the Tourists to take a 4-0 lead.
Asheville starter Matt Flemer (4-4) survived a bases-loaded jam in the third, only giving up a Chris Diaz sacrifice fly. He left in the sixth and the Power's Raul Fortunato hit a two-run double off reliever Trent Blank, but the home side went hitless the rest of the way.