The brief high school baseball season begins its sprint to the finish line with this week's Cook Inlet Conference tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.
New this year: an appearance by Eagle River, which will make its playoff debut Thursday against West. The Wolves secured the final playoff berth Saturday night by walloping Service 11-1 in the regular-season finale.
Eagle River (5-2) and West (5-2) play at 7 p.m. Thursday. Eagle River is the higher seed, based on its 24-8 romp over West in the team's only previous meeting this season.
At 4:30 p.m. Thursday, top-seeded South (7-0) will meet fourth-seeded Dimond (4-3).
The tournament comes after a lightning-quick conference season in which each team played each other once, for a total of seven league games. South comes into the tournament with the most game experience, having played an addition four non-conference games to go 10-1. The other three teams each played one non-conference game.
The playoffs will use a round-robin format. The top two teams will advance to the state tournament June 5-7 in Sitka.
The final playoff berth was on the line Saturday when Eagle River met Service, but the Wolves eliminated the drama early with a five-run outburst in the second inning.
Guido Gerali earned the pitching win, Lauren Frost drove in two runs and Michael Rosenberg and Trent Talley each had a pair of hits for the Wolves.
Cook Inlet Conference championships
All games at Mulcahy Stadium
4:30 p.m. -- Dimond (4-3) vs. South (7-0)
7 p.m. -- West (5-2) vs. Eagle River (5-2)
4:30 p.m. -- West vs. South
7 p.m. -- Dimond vs. Eagle River
1 p.m. -- Dimond vs. West
4 p.m. -- Eagle River vs. South
4:30 p.m. -- Service vs. Bartlett, Mulcahy
4:30 -- East vs. Chugiak, Bartlett
4:30 p.m. -- East vs. Service, Mulcahy
4:30 p.m. -- Bartlett vs. Chugiak, Bartlett.
Anchorage Daily News