ANCHORAGE BUCS REMAIN UNDEFEATED
With a third of the Alaska Baseball League season in the books, the strongest team out of the gate has undoubtedly been the Anchorage Bucs. The boys in black & gold have jumped out to an early lead in 2013, compiling a 6-0 record as of their off-day on Monday and standing out as the only undefeated team remaining the ABL.
With a team batting average of .289 (as of writing), the team has been able to manufacture plenty of runs. Among qualifying batters, Andy Crowley leads the league with a .563 avg. Catcher Michael Strentz and infielder Chase Compton have powered the offense, with 7 and 6 RBIs respectively in the first six season games. Strentz has two homers to his credit while Compton – who has only appeared in three league games total – has one as well. Don Andre Clark has used his speed to spark the offense and has crossed the plate six times in as many games.
The pitching and defense have been solid. As a team, they have committed just one error in official games. Their hurlers have fashioned a 1.98 ERA. Right-hander Garrett Mundell has gone a perfect 2-0 in two starts in which he has surrendered no earned runs, struck out 9, and walked just a single batter.
A (perfect) 1.000 win percentage is unheard of and the law of large numbers would suggest that, eventually, the Bucs will regress toward a more realistic win-loss record. So far the club has managed to time their losses wisely, though, using exhibition games to get the goof-ups out of their system. When combining non-ABL games with their regular season record, they are “only” 12-2, with both losses coming at the hands of their rival, the Glacier Pilots.
The Bucs certainly look like the team to beat in the Alaska Baseball League this year, and have dealt some punishment to their opponents. That said, the season is young, and the league title is still anyone’s for the taking. With a 6-3 record, the Mat-Su Miners have a capable ball club and are well within striking distance at 1.5 games back. The Glacier Pilots have drawn blood against the Bucs with a pair of exhibition wins and are merely two games out of first in the standings. The Goldpanners and Oilers are down but certainly not out, with plenty of games in hand to make up ground. And although the Chinooks have faltered so far, there is plenty of time to turn it around and mount a challenge.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
The Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks will finish up a long home stand this weekend. They’re currently in the midst of a four-game set against the visiting Bucs, including a Wednesday double-header and a final game on Thursday, followed by three nightly against the Oilers. These will be their first official league home games and an opportunity to put some wins on the board while they enjoy home-field advantage. After that, they hit the road to take on the Anchorage-area teams.
The Chinooks have three off-days over the next week and will play on the road for the majority of that period. Their only home game in the near future will come against the Glacier Pilots at 5pm Sunday, followed by a travel day and a four-game set in Kenai against the Oilers. Sitting at 1-9, they have a hard row to hoe to try and put some in the win column while on the road. But if they manage to put together some wins and carry some momentum home with them they’ll be right back in the thick of it.
The Bucs, as mentioned above, are currently on the road and are being tested in their first real road trip of the year. After the four-game set in Fairbanks wraps up, they travel home to host the Chinooks on Saturday, and play three games against the Miners, including a Sunday double-header. The Fairbanks road trip will be the first time they’ve taken on the Goldpanners, so a series against them in hostile territory will present a fresh challenge.
The Pilots are in the midst of a big home stand, punctuated only by Sunday’s game in Chugiak. They’re wrapping up a three-game set against the visiting Oilers on Wednesday with a doubleheader, after which they’ll take on the Chinooks, Miners, Goldpanners and Bucs. With a bunch of home games against teams both above and below them in the standings, they have the potential to upset the league hierarchy over the next week.
The Miners have Wednesday night off and a home game Thursday against the Oilers before playing five on the road in Anchorage. Two games are slotted against the Pilots for Friday and Saturday night, followed by a Sunday doubleheader at the Bucs with the rubber match to come on Monday, July 1. Then it’s back home for a four-game series in Palmer. The Bucs will be a tough nut to crack at home, but this week gives the Miners an opportunity to jump into first and put some padding in between them and the Pilots.
Finally, the Oilers are taking their first big road trip with games against the Anchorage-area teams through the weekend, then a Monday travel day before coming home to host the Chinooks for four next week. Their games on the road include a Wednesday-night twin bill at the Pilots and stop in to visit the Miners before immediately shipping up for a three-game stint against the Panners in Fairbanks. They need some wins to get back into the upper half of the standings table, so they’ll be fighting hard on the road to put a few victories under their belt.
If you haven’t been out to the park yet this season, it’s a great week for Alaska baseball! The schedule is packed with games and forecasts across the league are calling for more warm, sunny days for most of the week to come.
Check out my blog,49thStateHardball.com, where I break down the league, its teams, and its players with profiles, scouting reports, photos and more.
ANCHORAGE BUCS REMAIN UNDEFEATED