Dapto Chiefs starting pitcher Tyson Graham and Wests Cardinals counterpart Blake Handley dominated as Illawarra baseball's top two clubs scored impressive wins in round 18 on Saturday.
Chiefs beat Berkeley Eagles 8-2 at Eagles Field, while Cardinals thumped Kiama Braves 11-1 at Cringila Park.
Northern Pirates made it a big day for the top three teams after belting last-placed Shoalhaven Mariners 11-2 at Ison Field, Nowra.
At Eagles Field, Berkeley players wore black armbands and a minute's silence was observed to mark the passing of Eagles foundation member Ken Blundell.
An outstanding clubman, Blundell was a founding first grade player for Eagles in the 1970s.
Meanwhile, with the finals just three weeks away, leaders Chiefs are building momentum and over-run Berkeley in the late innings.
Graham went his longest outing of the season, throwing seven innings for just four hits and one earned run.
Eagles trailed only 3-1 after six innings before Chiefs scored two runs in the seventh and three runs in the eighth to seal victory.
Troy Green went 4/5 including a double and an RBI, with the consistent Ben Garvey 3/5 with a double and 2RBIs.
Aaron Sloan was 2/4 for Eagles, who were out-hit 13-6.
Cardinals ace Handley threw five innings for one hit and no runs conceded in a match-winning display against Braves.
Cards led 7-0 after five innings and out-hit a disappointing Braves 15-2.
Teenager Joel Thompson went 3/5 with an RBI for Cards, while Nathan Grogan (2/4) had an RBI and smashed a triple and a double.
Premiers Cardinals look set to finish the season in second spot and meet Chiefs in the major semi-final.
Pirates are also finding form at the right time and were too strong for Mariners.
Pirates out-hit the home side 15-3 with Lachlan Crawley (3/3, RBI) leading the way and skipper Andrew Clifford going 4/6 with 2RBIs.
Brendan Lentil was Mariners' best with 1/2.
In this Saturday's penultimate round, fourth-placed Eagles host Cardinals, Mariners are at home to Chiefs and Braves take on Pirates at Gainsborough Oval.
Ladder: Chiefs (13-3), Cardinals (11-6), Pirates (10-6), Eagles (6-8), Braves (4-11), Mariners (2-12).