The definition of playoff baseball is to be playing your best at the right time of year.
Or, you can just watch Carlton.
Like they have done each May, the Bulldogs were back at their postseason prevailing ways when they downed both Silver Bay 4-3 and Cook County 4-3 in a pair of Section 7A baseball games Tuesday, May 28, at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior.
For Carlton (8-10), a team below .500, the two wins are monumentally important this time of year - nothing new for the small Polar League school, having been to a number of recent section finals, including last year's title tilt one win short of state.
On Tuesday, they were at it again, coming from behind to first top the Mariners, followed by upsetting the section's top-seeded Vikings, proving that a below-average regular-season has nothing to do with winning in the playoffs.
"We talk about it throughout the year, it doesn't matter how you play until the end," Carlton coach Ryan Schmidt said. "They just seem to show up when the lights are the brightest."
Next up for Carlton is Nashwauk-Keewatin (15-4) on Thursday, May 30, in Proctor at 4:30 p.m. Semifinals and finals are set for June 4 and 6.
And with their postseason tradition, don't count out the Bulldogs - regardless of their subpar numbers.
"They're kind of relishing that underdog role," Schmidt said. "If we play our best ball, we can beat anybody in the section."
South Ridge knocks off Floodwood, Cherry
While Cook County and fellow co-No. 1 seed Ely were edged Tuesday, South Ridge (17-5) sits atop the section unscathed.
Deservingly so for 7A's defending champs, who dismantled Floodwood 24-3 in five innings and shutout Cherry 9-0 in games Tuesday at Duluth's Wade Stadium.
Winning pitchers included Matt Clark against the Polar Bears, as well as Riley Kinsley over the Tigers. Both are juniors, and among a laundry list of heavers that coach Tyler Olin can choose from his pitching staff moving onward.
"I like our chances going forward," Olin said. "But there's still a lot of good teams and players left in the tournament. It's the playoffs - anything can happen. We're just going to take it one game at a time."
If so, the Panthers could be a pretty pick to repeat. Class A fourth-place finishers last June, South Ridge readies for upstart North Woods (9-11) next, as the two wrangle Thursday, May 30, in Hibbing at 4:30 p.m.
They plan to play plenty of ball still.
"We've set our goals high," Clark said. "Not only to get to the state tournament again, but to get to that state championship game. We just have to play our best ball and be confident in ourselves."
Cherry tops Wrenshall
Meanwhile, Wrenshall was confident following their four-run opening inning Tuesday, before suffering a 16-4 loss to Cherry in five innings at the Wade.
Wrens' Andrew Silverio, Mason Perry, Randy Wimmer and Jacob Murray all managed hits in batting around their entire lineup in the big top of the first.
Silverio was the game's losing pitcher, as Wrenshall finished the spring 3-11, yet included wins over McGregor, Floodwood and Two Harbors. They also challenged rival Carlton in a 7-5 loss at Chub Lake.
"We were hoping for bigger things, but it was not to be today," Wrens coach Paul DeVall said. "We're a young team with not a lot of baseball experience, but I'm looking forward to Wrenshall baseball down the road and these young guys coming up."