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Castroville [TX] tops Valley in extra innings to win Todd Ryan

Even though he lives in Texas, Castroville Post 460 Legion team manager Jerome Iltis owns property in the Mat-Su Valley.

It’s fitting because his baseball players treat McManus Field in Wasilla like their backyard.

Castroville has never lost in the Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament after beating Valley Post 35/15 by a 3-2 score in extra innings tonight. The Texas team is now 8-0 all-time and has another title to go with its 2012 championship.

The Alaskans had more base hits and got a complete-game gem from starter Sam Loyer but let the game slip away in the top of the eighth inning after Wesley Moss scored the winning run from second base after the Valley failed to turn an inning-ending double play.

“The runner was stealing and never broke stride,” Valley coach Gary Skan told me.

The game was back and forth the whole way. Logan Sanders gave the Valley a 2-0 lead with a two-run double in the bottom of the second inning. Ethan Valdez drove in two to tie it in the top of the fourth inning.

“Today’s game is the best game I've been a part of in years,” Skan said. “Both teams had chances; both teams left the based loaded in back-to-back innings. Defense and pitching won the game for Texas.” 

Isaac Lugo pitched 5.2 innings of scoreless relief to earn the win for Castroville.

The Napoleon Post 300 River Bandits of Ohio went 3-1 and finished second in the tournament. They lost 10-5 on Day 3.

Napoleon and manager Randy Bachman were seeking the team’s third Todd Ryan Tournament title since 2011.

The third Outside team up here for the 2015 Alaska Airlines Tournament Tour is Team Avenue Academy of California. 

The Valley team went 2-2 over the holiday weekend, beating Team Avenue and Bartlett Post 29 while losing 7-4 to Ohio.

Overall, the Valley team played strong and represented Alaska well.

“This was a very fun tournament to be part off,” Skan said. “I think our team has definitely earned the respect of all three out of state teams. I can't say enough about all the fans that came out and supported us. What a game; wow, is all I can say and very proud of this team for battling every pitch.”

The third leg of the Alaska Airlines Tournament Tour begins Tuesday with the Bill Miller Big Fish Wood Bat Tournament in Kenai. After that the tournament series wraps up with the granddaddy of them all, the 21st annual BP Invitational this weekend at Mulcahy Stadium.

This story was written by Van Williams, a freelance writer in Anchorage and the ALB Media Director.

Henie, Bonck headline USA Today All-Alaska Team

USA Today and American Family Insurance teamed up to come up with all-state high school baseball teams for all 50 states.

In Alaska, Doug Henie of the Chugiak Mustangs won Coach of the Year honors and Player of the Year honors went to Nathan Bonck of the Ketchikan Kings.

Henie led Chugiak to its first high school baseball state championship and a 15-4 record while Bonck led the state with 7 home runs and 39 RBIs in 24 games while going 5-0 with a 1.72 as a pitcher.

For the complete list of all-state teams, go to:

USA Today/American Family Insurance

All-USA Alaska Baseball Team


Doug Henie, Chugiak

Henie guided Chugiak to a 15-4 record and the school’s first state championship. The Mustangs shut out two of their three opponents in the state tournament, including a 5-0 victory against South Anchorage for the title. Henie has been with the team since 2004.


Nathan Bonck, INF/P, Ketchikan, 6-5/195, Jr.

The slugging first baseman hit .507 with seven home runs and 39 RBI in 24 games for the Southeast Conference champions. On the mound, the hard-throwing lefty had a 5-0 record, a 1.72 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings. He was also named the Gatorade state player of the year. He has committed to Seattle University.


Nathan Bonck, INF/P, Ketchikan 6-5/195, Jr.

Sam Hanson, P, Chugiak, 6-1/195, Sr.

Nathan Klein, P, Juneau-Douglas, 6-2/190, Sr.

Nolan Monaghan, P, Wasilla, 6-0/160, Jr.

Julito Fazzini, C, South Anchorage, 5-10/205, Jr.

Lucas Thorp, INF, Dimond (Anchorage), 5-11/180, Sr.

Jonny Homza, INF, South Anchorage, 5-11/160, So.

Willy Homza, INF, South Anchorage, 6-0/185, Sr.

Zach Brueggemann, OF, Chugiak, 5-8/165, Sr.

Sam Loyer, OF, Wasilla, 5-9/120, Sr.

Logan Sanders, OF, Colony (Palmer), 5-9/155, Sr.


Jakob Arnold, P, Kodiak, 6-2/180, Sr.

Tyler Christmann, P, West Valley (Fairbanks), 6-0/175, Sr.

Casey Hendricks, P, Ketchikan, 5-11/160, Sr.

Logan Williams, C, Bartlett (Anchorage), 5-9/220, Sr.

Matt Palmer, INF, Colony (Palmer), 6-0/185, Sr.

Raleigh Pigg, INF, Service (Anchorage), 6-2/170, So.

Buddy Dale, INF, Wasilla, 5-9, 180, Sr.

Ben Hall, INF, Lathrop (Fairbanks), 5-7/150, Sr.

Frank Carlson, OF, Kodiak, 6-2/170, Sr.

Chris Carter, OF, Lathrop (Fairbanks), 5-8/200, Sr.

Parker Johnson, OF, South (Anchorage), 6-0/165, So.

This story was written by Van Williams, a freelance writer in Anchorage and the ALB Media Director.

Baseball Factory comes to Anchorage July 8 for one day

The Under Armour Baseball Factory National Tryout will take place Wednesday, July 8, at Loretta French Field.

Register at

There is a special discount using promo code ALASKA to receive 10 percent off any video program registration.

Spink surpasses 100 career games, wins twice in 10 days

Life is pretty unpredictable as a relief pitcher in baseball.

Take Eagle River’s Conor Spink for example.

The left hander earned six winning decisions in 105 previous professional games stretching four years with the Lincoln Saltdogs.

Then he won two games in 10 days.

The 27-year-old has appeared in 15 games this season and has a 2-3 record and 4.80 ERA.

He has pitched a clean sheet nine times.

Spink, of Eagle River fame, has struck out 107 career batters in the American Association independent league.

He is one of only seven Alaskans to pitch in more than 100 pro games.

This story was written by Van Williams, a freelance writer in Anchorage and the ALB Media Director.

Way continues to close the door for Bellingham Bells

They say getting the final out is the hardest, but Brian Way of Sitka is making it look easy.

The 19-year-old is 3-for-3 in save situations for the Bellingham Bells of the West Coast League.

The 6-foot-7 right hander hasn’t allowed an earned run in 5 innings and the Bells are 4-0 on days he pitches.

Including his freshman season at Edmonds CC, Way’s team is 17-2 when he pitches.

This story was written by Van Williams, a freelance writer in Anchorage and the ALB Media Director.

Arnold to pitch for NCAA D2 Flagler College in Florida

Kodiak baseball player Jakob Arnold had a checklist when it came to finding the perfect college.

He wanted to be near family, but get out of Alaska.

He wanted to play for a competitive program.

And he wanted to pitch in warm weather.

Arnold, 18, got all three wishes at Flagler College, an NCAA D2 school in St. Augustine, Florida.

“It seemed like the perfect fit,” he told me.

The Kodiak pitching ace was one of the top arms in Alaska high school baseball this season. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound right hander threw a no-hitter against Houston and went all 7 innings in four of six starts.

His only loss of the season came at the state tournament against eventual champion Chugiak.

Arnold, of Kodiak High fame, carved up batters with a 0.92 ERA in 30.2 innings. His 41-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio is lights out.

He was named first team all-conference and second team all-state this year as a senior.

“It’ll be awesome to face some really good hitters at a higher level,” Arnold said. “I think the competition will make me a lot better.”

Arnold found out about Flagler through his older brother and he sent the coach a video with some of his highlights. He sent out probably 15 to 20 videos, he said, and received interest from a handful of schools. A couple even offered him a spot.

“Being in Kodiak, it’s really hard to get out and show people so it’s all do-it-yourself basically,” he said. “If you want play it’s on you to do all the work.”

Flagler invited him to an open tryout, where Arnold did enough to earn a roster spot and partial scholarship.

“I had a ton of adrenaline and it made me throw harder than I’ve ever thrown,” he said. “Being nervous honestly helped a lot.”

He normally throws his fastball in the 83 mph range. In Florida he hit 87 on the radar gun a couple times.

“They liked my size and velocity but said I need to work on secondary pitches,” Arnold said. “As I get there they are going to see if I am ready as a freshman or if I need to redshirt my first year.” 

This story was written by Van Williams, a freelance writer in Anchorage and the ALB Media Director.

Chugiak baseball bookends state tourney with shutouts, wins title

Using the oldest recipe in baseball, the Chugiak Mustangs mixed brilliant pitching and perfect defense to create a masterpiece that allowed them to eat up the competition.

Jimmy Lanier pitched his team’s second shutout in three days with a 3-hitter in Saturday’s championship game to highlight a 5-0 victory over South Anchorage in the ASAA state baseball tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Chugiak outscored opponents 26-5 in the tournament and in the title game dominated a South squad that has built a reputation as a perennial powerhouse with three straight appearances in the state championship game. 

“It was our year,” Zach Brueggemann told me. “This is a team of destiny. We’re the hardest-working team out there. It’s so nice to have it pay off in the end.”

Lanier carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before South leadoff hitter Lian Lincoln broke it up with a single. The senior pitcher struck out two and walked three, including the first two batters of the game.

Lanier is a notoriously slow starter and he found immediate trouble in the first inning after issuing base on balls to Lincoln and Jonny Homza. That brought up CIC Co-MVP Willy Homza, who ripped the ball to right field. The laser liner initially gave Brueggemann trouble before he made a diving catch.

“I was just so happy I caught the ball because it was a shot off the bat,” Brueggemann said. “I didn’t want to get burned so I was kind of hesitant and I made that catch look a lot harder than it was.”

Lanier was lights out the rest of the way.

“You gotta let him settle in,” Chugiak head coach Doug Henie told me. “Once he gets through that first inning he goes after people.”

Chugiak [15-4] scored four runs in the third inning with multiple players doing their job, whether it was a base hit, a sacrifice bunt or stolen base.

Charlie Bucolo’s RBI single scored Jake Kindred for the first run. Then Sam Hanson singled and Brueggemann walked to load the bases. A wild pitch scored one run and an overthrow to third base by pitcher Parker Johnson allowed another run to score. A run-scoring double by Matthew Hess made it 4-0.

Two innings later, Zach Bohrer lofted a sacrifice fly to right to score Bucolo and make it 5-0. 

Chugiak won all three games against South this year. 

The third victory was the most important, giving the Mustangs their first state championship in high school baseball. They made the finals in 2004 and 2009 – and the Chugiak Post 33 team has won 7 American Legion state titles – but this was the first title for a proud program steeped in tradition.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Henie, who has been on the Chugiak coaching staff since 2004 and was part of the team’s 2008 and 2011 Legion titles. “I don’t know if it’s set in yet.”

Chugiak all week made it clear it was the most complete team. 

The Mustangs pitched two shutouts [Lanier, Hanson], compiled a tournament-high 19 stolen bases, batted .284 as a team and did not commit an error in 21 innings.

“We’re always talking about playing clean baseball, doing what you can do, don’t try to do too much, and we got decent speed throughout the lineup,” Henie said. “That’s what we’ve been doing all year.”


^ South is now 12-3 in the state tournament since 2011.

^ The Cook Inlet Conference and Southeast Conference have won every state title since 2007, alternating from year to year with the CIC winning in old years and Southeast in even years.

^ Juneau-Douglas assistant coach Chad Bentz is one of only three Alaskans to play Major League Baseball. The left-handed pitcher played for the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins. He played in 40 MLB games, the most by an Alaskan, and has our state’s only base hit.

^ All-tournament team: Nolan Monaghan, Wasilla; Sam Hanson, Chugiak; Grant Ainsworth, Juneau-Douglas; Willy Homza, South; Charlie Bucolo, Chugiak; Zach Brueggemann, Chugiak; Nathan Klein, Juneau Douglas; Sam Loyer, Wasilla; Nathan Bonck, Ketchikan; Frank Carlson, Kodiak; Jonny Homza, South Anchorage; Tyler Christmann, West Valley.

This story was written by Van Williams, a freelance writer in Anchorage and the ALB Media Director. 

Chugiak, South cruise to semifinal wins on Day 2 of state

The hitting bug remained highly contagious for the Chugiak Mustangs on Friday night. 

The Cook Inlet Conference champions banged out 11 hits and scored runs in six of seven innings in a 14-5 victory over West Valley in the semifinals of the ASAA state tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

The Mustangs have produced 21 runs, 17 stolen bases and 19 hits in the last two days. 

“Our bats are coming through and it’s been nice,” Chugiak senior Zach Brueggemann told me.

The all-conference outfielder went 4-for-4 and tripled for his second extra-base hit in two games. Sam Hanson got two hits for the second consecutive night. Five others got one hit.

“Every guy on this team can hit,” Zach Bohrer told me. “It’s nice when everyone has their bats going like we did today.”

Chugiak [14-4] advanced to Saturday afternoon’s state title game against 2013 state champion South Anchorage, an 8-3 winner over Juneau-Douglas in Friday’s early semifinal.

South moved into the state championship game for the third straight year. Chugiak hasn’t been this far since 2009.

The Mustangs ran wild on the base paths against West Valley, stealing 11 bags. Vander Lekites [4] and Brueggemann [3] combined for more than half.

“We have a very fast team, so it makes it a lot easier and it puts pressure on the other team’s defense,” Brueggemann said. “We’re definitely stealing more bases than we have all season.”

Brueggemann was a terror all night – 4 hits, 3 stolen bases, 3 RBIs and 3 runs.

“I was just seeing it really well. It was nice,” he said with a laugh. “No extra motivation, we took it like a regular game.”

Chugiak led 3-2 before tacking on runs in five straight innings to bury the shorthanded Wolfpack, which upset Ketchikan on Day 1 and brought only 10 players from Fairbanks.

“We have a lot of depth on our team,” Bohrer said. “A lot of guys are on right now and it’s really nice. I haven’t been hitting the ball well recently but pretty much the whole team has been hitting at state and understanding how big these games are.”


The Homza brothers make up the best middle infield in the state. Shortstop Willy and second baseman Jonny are quick on their feet and get rid of the ball quickly.

They also have quick bats.

Jonny and Willy drilled back-to-back triples in the first inning to ignite a quick start that carried the Wolverines.

“We always try to get back-to-back hits,” Willy told me. “Mine was more opposite field, I think; I wasn’t watching. I just was hoping it would drop. I thought the center fielder had a beat on both of them, but luckily they dropped in.”

The Homza Bros. combined to go 5-for-7 with 3 RBIs and 5 runs.

South [15-3] scored three runs in the first, two in the third, two more in the fifth and another in the sixth.

“That early start, that was huge,” Willy said. “We’ve had trouble getting going in the first few innings, but today we got it going right away. That was helpful.”

Starter Alex Schlegel scattered seven hits and three walks over six innings to collect to 2-0 on the season. He carried a shutout into the sixth inning.

South started the state tournament without giving up a run for 12 consecutive innings – seven by Tommy Koloski and five by Schlegel.

“Tommy threw a good game yesterday and Schle just kept it going,” Willy said. “Schle pitches to contact a little more and that was nice getting a lot of good plays in the field, lots of grounders.”

South is solid around the horn, but especially up the middle.

“Anytime there’s a ground ball up the middle, it’s a good thing for us; you have to hit it pretty good to get it by them. They are really quick laterally,” South head coach Taylor Nerland told me. 

They have an unspoken language on the field like they’ve played together their whole loves. Oh yeah, they have.

“This is my last year with him I like being in there,” Willy said. “I always know where he’s going to be and he knows where I’m going to be. It’s pretty sweet.”

This story was written by Van Williams, a freelance writer in Anchorage and the ALB Media Director.

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Alaska Legion AA Standings

Team Points League
Juneau Post 25 45 11-1
Chugiak Post 33 40 10-0
Dimond Post 21 39 9-3
Ketchikan Post 3 32 7-4
Kodiak Post 17 31 7-3
South Post 4 29 6-5
Service Post 28 27 5-7
Valley Post 35/15 23 5-3
Fairbanks Post 30 23 5-3
Fairbanks Post 11 23 5-3
Kenai Post 20 21 4-5
Eagle River 20 3-8
West Post 1 19 2-11
East Post 34 16 1-12
Bartlett Post 29 11 0-11

Points: 4 Win 2 Tie 1 Loss 0 Forfeit
Each team plays 18 league games [top 8 advance to State Tournament; the rest Matson Lines Invitational]

July 6 League

No games

July 5 Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament

Napoloen [OH] 10, Team Avenue Academy [CA] 0

Castroville [TX] 3, Valley 2

July 5 League

Dimond 5, Service 0

South 3, West 1

July 4 Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament

Castroville [TX] 10, Napoleon [OH] 5

Team Avenue Academy [CA] 18, Bartlett 2

Valley 19, Bartlett 7

July 3 Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament

Castroville [TX] 11, Team Avenue Academy [CA] 1

Castroville [TX] 7, Bartlett 0

Napoleon [OH] 7, Valley 4

July 3 League  

Service 9, Eagle River 7

Dimond 4, West 3

July 2 Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament  

Napoleon [OH] 7, Bartlett 0

Valley 8, Team Avenue Academy [CA] 1

July 2 League  

Juneau 8, South 3

Juneau 4, South 3

July 1 League  

Kenai 3, South 2

Ketchikan 4, Service 3

Service 7, Ketchikan 3

Eagle River 10 , Bartlett 1

Fairbanks [30] 5, Fairbanks [11] 2

West 16, East 4

Chugiak 4, Dimond 3

June 30 League  

Juneau 7, Kodiak 5

Chugiak 12, Valley 0

June 29 League  

Kenai 9, Bartlett 2

Juneau 11, West 3

Chugiak 21, Ketchikan 0

Kodiak 13, East 6

June 28 League  

Kodiak 5, Fairbanks [11] 3

Juneau 16, West 0

Dimond 7, Valley 2

Ketchikan 9, Eagle River 5

Service 6, East 1

June 27 League  

Fairbanks [11] 3, Bartlett 1

Fairbanks [11] 8, Bartlett 1

Chugiak 6, Kenai 3

West 13, Service 5

Kodiak 11, Fairbanks [30] 7

Fairbanks [30] 13, Kodiak 3

June 26 League  

Valley 10, Service 3

Dimond 12, Juneau 7

Ketchikan 9, East 2

Fairbanks [11] 15, Kodiak 14

Fairbanks [30] 15, Eagle River 2

Juneau 7, Dimond 6

Ketchikan 6, East 2

June 25 League  

Juneau 22, Fairbanks [30] 0

South 11, East 1

Ketchikan 7, Bartlett 4

June 24 League  

Eagle River 13, Bartlett 10

South 4, Dimond 2

June 23 League  

Valley 6, Kenai 3

Dimond 4, West 3

Service 18, East 2

June 22 League  

No games

June 21 League  

Kodiak 5, Eagle River 3

Fairbanks [11] 9, West 8

Fairbanks [30] 11, Service 6

Chugiak 5, Bartlett 0

June 20 League  

Fairbanks [30] 15, West 5

Fairbanks [11] 10, Service 1

Kenai 6, Bartlett 0

Dimond 4, Ketchikan 1

Dimond 7, Ketchikan 6

Juneau 11, East 1

Juneau 11, East 0

Kodiak 9, Eagle River 4

June 19 League  

Chugiak 11, Kenai 9

Valley 8, South 2

June 15-18

No games - College Coaches Camp

June 14 League  

Eagle River 3, East 1

Chugiak 7, Valley 2

June 13 League  

South 3, Fairbanks 11 2

Ketchikan 10, West 1

Juneau 10, Service 0

Juneau 3, Service 1

Kodiak 14, Kenai 4

Kodiak 3, Kenai 2

Valley 7, Eagle River 4

June 12 League  

Chugiak 12, Eagle River 1

Ketchikan 6, West 4

South 11, Fairbanks 30 0

June 11 League  

Valley 13, Bartlett 2

June 10 League  

Chugiak 14, East 4

June 9 League  

Kenai 12, Eagle River 1

Service 11, South 9

June 8 League  

Chugiak 10, Bartlett 1

Dimond 20, East 6

South 14, West 1

June 7 League  

Dimond 11, Bartlett 0

East 8, West 4


2015 High School Standings

Cook Inlet Conference
Team League

Championship Group




**South Anchorage 8-2
Dimond 6-4
Service 4-6

Consolation Group




Eagle River 5-5
West Anchorage 2-8
East Anchorage 2-8

Each team played 10 league games

$State champion

#Conference champion

**Qualfied for ASAA State Tournament

Mid Alaska Conference
Team League
**#Lathrop 10-0
**West Valley 8-2
North Pole 5-5

Monroe Catholic

Delta Junction 1-9
Eielson 1-9

Each team played 10 league games in the regular season

**Qualified for ASAA State Tournament

Southcentral Conference
Team League
**#Wasilla 9-1
Colony 8-2
**Kodiak 8-2
Soldotna 5-5
Homer 5-5
Palmer 4-6
Kenai 1-9
Houston 0-10

Each team played 10 league games in regular season

#Conference champion

**Qualified for ASAA State Tournament

Southeast Conference
Team League
**Juneau-Douglas 10-2
**#Ketchikan 9-3
Sitka 6-6
Thunder Mountain 3-9
Petersburg 2-10

Each team played 12 league games in regular season

#Conference champion

**Qualified for ASAA State Tournament

Legion AA Schedule

Revised July 1st:

Legion A Schedule

Revised June 19th:

Alaska Legion Baseball

2014 Alaska Legion AA American League

Team Points League
Wasilla Post 35 63 15-3
Service Post 28 57 13-5
Dimond Post 21 54 12-6
Juneau Post 25 51 11-7
**South Post 4 48 10-8
Ketchikan Post 3 39 7-11
East Post 34 33 5-13
West Post 1 06 0-18

**State champion

Alaska Legion AA National League

Team Points League
Chugiak Post 33 57 13-5
Eagle River 57 13-5
Kenai Post 20 54 12-6
Kodiak Post 17 48 10-8
Fairbanks Post 30 45 9-9
Bartlett Post 29 42 8-10
Fairbanks Post 11 32 5-13
Palmer Post 15 21 1-17

2013 Legion AA Standings

Team Points League
Wasilla Post 35 76 18-4
Juneau Post 25 73 17-5
South Post 4 70 16-6
**Chugiak Post 33 65 14-7-1
Dimond Post 21 59 12-9-1
Service Post 28 55 11-11
Kenai Post 20 55 11-11
Eagle River 52 10-12
Bartlett Post 29 46 8-14
Fairbanks Post 30/11 46 8-14

**State champion

2012 Legion AA Standings

Team Points League
**Kenai Post 20 71 17-3
South Post 4 62 14-6
Wasilla Post 35 62 14-6
Dimond Post 21 59 13-7
Fairbanks Post 11 59 13-7
Chugiak Post 33 52 11-9
Service Post 28 50 10-10
Eagle River 41 7-13
East Post 34 35 5-15
Bartlett Post 29 32 4-16
West Post 1 26 2-18

**State champion