After winning the Eastern League Southern Division Finals for a fifth straight year on Saturday night, the Akron Aeros' festivities had a hint of restraint.
"It was a celebration, but in the backs of our minds we know we aren't done," first baseman Beau Mills said after Akron completed a sweep of the Reading Phillies with a 9-3 triumph. "We really want to celebrate here after three more games [in the Championship Series] and then go nuts."
That focus is a big reason why Akron is here in the first place. The regular-season Southern Division champs, the Aeros guaranteed themselves a fifth consecutive playoff appearance with almost two weeks left in the regular season. A large lead might make some teams complacent, but not Akron.
"This team feeds off each other," said Mills, who homered and drove in three runs to pace the Aeros' offense. "It starts with the top of the lineup all the way to No. 9. The lineup is pretty deep all the way through."
Mills got things going with a two-run shot in the first off rehabbing Phillies starter Clay Condrey. He also set the tone in the field, diving to snare a line drive and scrambling to the bag to double off Michael Taylor in the bottom of the inning.
Josh Rodriguez doubled and chipped in three RBIs, while Eric Berger (1-0) struck out eight and allowed an earned run on four hits over five innings.
"This whole team, we meshed real well all year," said Mills. "So when it comes down to the final outs in a big game like this, we were all walking around, giving each other high fives.
"It's really fun to be able to do that with a team; it doesn't happen very often."
Neither does a league title. Akron was last crowned EL champion in 2005, a drought the '09 squad is trying to end.
The Aeros await the winner of the North Division Finals between Connecticut and New Britain. The Defenders have a 2-1 lead in that best-of-5 series.
And with the stage set for their fourth shot in as many years to bring the crown back to Akron, there's no question what was in the back of the Aeros' minds Saturday night.
"This whole team is focused on one thing," Mills said.
And one very important celebration.
Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.