The Fairbanks Goldpanners, who own the Alaska Baseball League's top record and have scorched the circuit this month, on Wednesday moved closer to clinching the American League pennant with a 9-1 road victory over the Anchorage Glacier Pilots at Mulcahy Stadium.
Fairbanks, which has won 16 of its last 18 games, prospered on the strength of an offense that generated four home runs and a sharp five-inning performance from starting pitcher Jace Puckett (5-0).
Eric Hutting blasted two homers and drove in four runs for the Panners, who also received a homer and two RBIs from Vahn Bozoian and a homer from Brandon Caruso.
Puckett allowed just one hit and struck out four in his scoreless stint.
Entering Thursday, the Panners (18-7) owned a 3 1/2 game lead over the Anchorage Bucs. Fairbanks had seven games remaining — it isn't likely to play all 35 league games because of previous rainouts — and the Bucs had five games left.
The Mat-Su Miners already have clinched the National League title over the Glacier Pilots.
Mat-Su will face the winner of the National League in a best-of-3 series, July 30-Aug. 1, to determine the ABL champion.