With the season at its approximate half-way point, the Anchorage Glacier Pilots find themselves in a position they’ve got to like: sole possession of first place in the league standings. It’s taken them a few hard weeks to get there, but the team is firing on all cylinders and looking back at the rest of the league.
The elder Anchorage club played in the neighborhood of .500 ball through the first few weeks of the season, hanging back. During this time, the Bucs, Chinooks and the Oilers were contesting for the top of the heap. Meanwhile, the Goldpanners had gotten off to a slow start in league play (and playing an exhibition-heavy early schedule) and the Miners were mired in a dismal June. The Glacier Pilots put together just enough wins to stay in the middle of the pack.
All of that changed in the last week of June in a surge that has carried them through the beginning of July. The Pilots got hot, winning 7 of their last 10. Going into today they’re riding a four-game winning streak. Over the past week, Jeff Kremer has posted a .400 average, Kevin Cornelius has reached base 11 times in 6 games, and Tyler Spoon has hit a pair of homers. Kevin Swick has blasted one and swiped four bases in his last six games, while Micah Green has swiped three while digging out a triple.
The Pilots have found an ace on their staff in Kyle Freeland, who has not given up an earned run in four games, since his June 11th ABL debut in which he was tagged for the loss. It’s been 25 innings of work for Freeland since the last runner scored on him; in that span he’s been increasingly stingy. Opposing batters’ on-base percentages have steadily declined game after game, until his last outing where he surrendered three hits and no walks over 5 innings of work.
Overall, the Pilots pitching staff has been very effective, from nearly top to bottom over the last week, with a team ERA of 2.45.
This hot streak came at precisely the right time. The outcome of the Oilers/Chinooks series allowed the Pilots to leapfrog both teams. The Miners knocked the Goldpanners around good enough to keep them from climbing up the standings, while the Panners in turn beat up on the Bucs who are 4 and 6 in their last ten games, and three for their last four.
And so now the race for the ABL title becomes a little more interesting. The Pilots may not have looked like the favorites early on, but here they are in first place, much to the chagrin of the other teams who have tasted the lead and lost it. But it’s still anyone’s crown to win. Right now it looks like a five-team race and even the Miners are in a position where they could come surging back.
But for the foreseeable future, short as foresight may be in the ABL this season, the Glacier Pilots are the kings of the hill, and they don’t look like they intend to give it up without a fight.