The Calgary Inferno have put down the Anchorage Aces in a surprising upset, after taking their AEL Elimination Round series 3-1.
The Aces, who despite their better season record of 61-39 were the wild card team in this series, and therefore did not start the series at home, looked positively lethal in Game 1, winning 10-4 and swatting three home runs from all the usual suspects: AEL season HR leader Takeo Otomo, Alex Viramontes and rookie Chris Pratt.
Jose Soto was in perfect form as well. The rookie starter, who has headed the Aces rotation since his May signing, pitched 7 innings, keeping the hot Calgary bats to just 8 hits and 4 runs. Ray Kenny was nearly perfect in two innings in relief, allowing just a single hit. On the other side, Inferno starter Enrique Nunez was rocked for 8 runs and 8 hits, and was pulled in the third inning for Jack Lavigne, who gave up two more runs despite striking out 5 in as many innings.
Chris Pratt had his first career playoff grand slam, a 1-out shot in the third inning off Nunez that sealed his fate for the game and led to Lavigne coming in to relieve him.
But Calgary was not going to take the loss lying down, and in Game 2 they battled back with a 10-8 win, in spite of two home runs from Alex Viramontes. Calgary used four pitchers to stem the flow of Aces runs, and ultimately prevailed to even the series.
The Inferno then took the series lead after a Game 3 victory, a nailbiting 5-4 extra-innings win that saw Aces closed Cyril Lefevre give up a rare loss, only his second since coming to Anchorage in a trade from Toronto.
Calgary then hammered the final nail in the Anchorage coffin on the road in Game 4, another close 5-4 victory that saw Soto give up another 3 runs but this time was pulled after five innings of service, while Calgary’s Jeff St. John and John Wallace teamed up to keep the Aces to just four runs, all scored in the first 6 innings. Hit machine Danny ‘The Rajah’ Huertero went 4-for-5, including 2 doubles and a home run, and was named both player of the game and series MVP.
Calgary advance to the AELCS and will play the winner of the Jacksonville-Seattle series, which is currently tied at 2-2.