The Alaska Baseball Playoffs are on deck, beginning Wednesday with the Mat-Su Miners, a team loaded with fireworks, looking to retain their title.
Hoping to offer resistance are the Anchorage Bucs, the Anchorage Glacier Pilots and the Peninsula Oilers.
The Mat-Su Miners clinched the regular season title after leading the league from start to finish this season. They'll host the fourth-seeded Oilers in a best-of-3 series at Hermon Brothers Field in Palmer, while the second-seeded Bucs and third-seeded Pilots will battle in a best-of-3 series at Mulcahy Stadium.
The Miners (30-14 in league play) boast both strong hitting and strong pitching. Going into Tuesday's regular-season finale, RBI machine Blake Benefield had a league-leading 30 RBIs in 41 games. He also shares the top spot with six homers.
Calvin LeBrun and Thaddeus Ward each won five games this season for the Miners to lead all pitchers. LeBrun owns a 2.02 earned-run average and walked five batters in 44 1/3 innings. Ward carries a 1.72 ERA.
The Miners are 8-4 against Peninsula this season.
Raymond Kerr is Peninsula's best weapon on the mound. He leads the Oilers with four wins and posted a league-best 1.13 ERA. Caleb Hicks hit six home runs and batted .322 in the regular season for Peninsula.
The Oilers (19-25) clinched a playoff spot Monday in their final regular-season game by beating the Pilots 5-1.
The other semifinal series features a pair of Anchorage teams who were 7-7 against each other in the regular season. The Bucs (24-20) won the ABL title in 2015 and took home the Mayor's Cup against the Pilots (20-24) in late July.
Todd Lott is the Bucs' triple-crown threat, batting .310, hitting three homers and tallying 18 RBIs. He also stole nine bases. Teammate Jake Vieth owns 23 RBIs and three homers.
Logan Boyer leads Bucs pitchers with a 1.43 ERA. He struck out 48 in 31 1/3 innings.
The Pilots were powered by Kyle Tyler on the mound. Tyler struck out a league-high 51 batters in 39 innings, won four games and posted a 2.07 ERA. Ian Evans led the Pilots offensively by hitting .311 and driving in 17 runs.
The winners of each semifinal series will advance to the season-ending Top of the World Series. The best-of-3 series begins Friday and wraps up Saturday with either one or two games. The highest surviving team will host the series, with times to be determined later this week.
Alaska Baseball League final standings
Team ABL Overall
x-Mat-Su Miners 30-14 35-14
x-Anchorage Bucs 24-20 26-24
x-Glacier Pilots 20-24 22-29
x-Peninsula Oilers 19-25 20-26
Chugiak Chinooks 17-27 19-28
x-Clinched Playoff Spot
Mat-Su Miners 10, Anchorage Glacier Pilots 0 (7 innings)
Mat-Su Miners 7, Anchorage Glacier Pilots 4 (7 innings)
End of Regular Season
6 p.m. — Peninsula Oilers at Mat-Su Miners, Hermon Brothers Field
6 p.m. — Anchorage Glacier Pilots at Anchorage Bucs, Mulcahy Stadium
2 p.m. — Peninsula Oilers at Mat-Su Miners, Hermon Brothers Field (if-necessary game to follow at 6 p.m.)
4 p.m. — Anchorage Glacier Pilots at Anchorage Bucs, Mulcahy Stadium (if-necessary game to follow at 7 p.m.)