Melbourne Aces will head into the Australian Baseball League regular season home straight looking to avoid a sudden death wildcard route through the playoffs.
The Aces face two four-game series against teams jostling for those lucrative top-three places that would ensure they avoid a wildcard game.
They will enter their blockbuster penultimate round home series with front runners Adelaide Giants on Thursday night at Melbourne Ballpark sitting in equal second in the standings and holding their destiny in their own hands.
Last year, the Aces were in a similar position, only to squander their spot in the top three on the final weekend and be eliminated by the Canberra Cavalry in a one-off wildcard game.
“Last year was disappointing,” Aces second baseman Luke Hughes said.
“We came into the last series in a good spot only to be outplayed by Auckland, which won three out of four and put us into the wildcard game that we lost to the Canberra Cavalry.
“It was a really quick ending to the season when we thought we’d be playing off in a three-game set in a semi final.
“We want to stay out of that scenario this year.”
Melbourne Aces are riding high on confidence after taking three out of four games in their series against Geelong-Korea away on the weekend.
The Aces took full advantage of batter-friendly conditions in Geelong, pounding 39 runs in the series.
Import Colin Willis maintained the rage in the batters box for the Aces with hits in every game, including two multi-hit games. Willis lifted his batting average to .405 on the back of his seven-hit series.
The Melbourne Aces pitching department was stellar for most of the series.
The Aces restricted Geelong-Korea to three runs or less in three of the four games. Darin Downs, Liam O’Sullivan and Lars Liguori were praised for their impact on the mound.
Aside from the jostling for prime playoff spots, Melbourne Aces will be doing their bit to help the farming community that is being devastated by the ongoing bushfires.
The fourth game of their home series against Adelaide Giants on Sunday will be a special day where the Aces aim to raise significant funds for BlazeAid.
BlazeAid is a volunteer-based organisation that works to help people in rural Australia rebuild fences and other structures damaged in fires or floods.
As well as the baseball, F45 Training will run a pre-game work out for fans with all proceeds of the ticket sales donated to BlazeAid.
During the baseball, Greyhound Racing Victoria will have a celebrity race, while after the game, Melbourne City Wrestling will put on a live show to entertain the crowd.
Aces players have pledged $1000 for every home run hit on the day.
“To see all the stuff that’s going on out there with the bushfires, it’s pretty sad obviously,” Hughes said.
“It touches so many different lives, so anything we can do, the baseball community will pull together and hopefully raise some good money for those guys and hopefully we’ll put on a good show for everybody