Fans of the Alaska Baseball League could be in for an old-fashioned pennant chase.
The host Anchorage Bucs defeated the first-place Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks 2-1 on Monday night. The second loss in a row for the Panners tightens up the ABL standings heading into the homestretch.
The Panners still lead the league at 16-8, but the Mat-Su Miners, winners of four straight, are only a game back at 17-11. The Bucs are two games back at 15-11, while the Peninsula Oilers are 3 1-2 games back at 13-12.
The Oilers have the opportunity to make up all that ground on the Panners quickly. The Fairbanks squad comes to Coral Seymour Memorial Park for a four-game series that will take place over three days.
The Oilers will face the Panners at 6 p.m. today and Thursday. The teams face off in a 5 p.m. doubleheader Wednesday.
The Oilers will be looking for revenge after suffering a three-game sweep to the Panners in Fairbanks earlier in the season.
The Oilers lead the league with a 2.44 team ERA, while Fairbanks is fourth at 3.22. The Oilers also have a better team batting average than the Panners — .259 to .249.
GJ Strauss will get the ball for the Oilers in the opener. Strauss is eighth in the league in ERA at 1.35. He is 4-0 thus far.
The Oilers have put up a 7-3 record at home thus far on the strength of their pitching. But after a 5-2 win over the Bucs on Sunday, Oilers head coach Kyle Richardson said Fairbanks has a potent offense that has scored on some of the league’s best pitching.
“They are going to get their runs, so we’ll have to hit well to beat them,” he said.
Jake Alvarez leads the Oilers and is fourth in the league with a .325 batting average. Andre Mercurio is sixth at .320.