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Cleveland Indians name Juneau pitcher Baker to 40-man roster

The Cleveland Indians have given Dylan Baker of Juneau a tip of the cap.

The MLB team added the 23-year-old pitcher to its 40-man roster, the ultimate compliment given Baker threw only five innings in 2015.

“I was pretty surprised. I knew I had a chance but also knew so many players had good years, and I have been injured the whole year,” Baker told me. “Definitely gives me a boost of confidence, especially being injured two years in a row. Just shows that they still believe in me.”

The 40-man roster is made up of players that have signed a big league contract and they can be called up to the 25-man roster at any time, which means he is just a phone call away from pitching in ‘The Show.’

Only three Alaskans have actual MLB experience - Marshall Boze and Chris Mabeus of Soldotna and Chad Bentz of Juneau.

Baker, a rocket-armed right-hander, pitched last season for the Class A Advanced Lynchburg Hillcats. In his lone start he threw five hitless innings and struck out a career-high nine batters.

Then he suffered a major right elbow injury that shut him down for the rest of the season. 

“I have been rehabbing for a little over seven months now,” he said. “It’s a 12-month recovery if everything goes as planned.”

Baker has an 11-11 record and 3.68 ERA in 48 career games. He has 207 Ks in 242 innings. He is one of only nine Alaska pitchers to reach double-digit wins as the pro level.

He accepted an invitation to attend Cleveland’s spring training in Arizona but obviously won’t pitch. That doesn’t mean he won’t enjoy himself, though.

“It will be an awesome experience being around all the big leaguers,” Baker said.

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

Homza, ABA all-stars having lots of fun under Arizona sun

Winning is always fun and right now the Alaska Baseball Academy all-stars are having lots of fun under the sun at the Arizona Fall Classic.

The Alaskans picked up their third win in as many days, this time beating MVP Baseball 5-2. The MVP squad featured players from different states on their roster.  

“It’s really cool for an Alaska team to go out of state and be successful,” Anchorage’s Jonny Homza told me. “I wouldn’t say I’m surprised about it, though, because we have a really solid, talented team.”

Alaska players like Homza are turning heads and making strong impressions with the dozens of professional scouts and college coaches watching from the stands.

Homza, of South High fame, is a smooth-fielding infielder with good footwork and a solid arm. He’s also hitting the ball well against top-notch pitchers from all over the country.

His older brother Willy signed with Brown University last season. This Homza has similar skills but is eager to make his own name with coaches at the next level.

He doesn’t think about the expectations surrounding a chance to play in the Arizona Fall Classic. 

“It’s a little nerve wrecking but at the same time it’s just super fun,” Homza said. “If I ever get nervous I just remember how fun it is and that you have to appreciate any chance to play ball, especially on these fields under the sun.”

Pitching has paved the way for the ABA all-stars and their 3-1 showing.

Today’s win was highlighted by Sitka’s Kyle Fitzsimmons, who struck out eight batters and limited MVP Baseball to just three hits.

Anchorage’s Raleigh Pigg of Service allowed one run while striking out two in two innings of middle relief. Mat Kley, formerly of South, picked up the save.

“We’re getting it done on the mound for sure,” Homza said. “Our pitchers have been doing really well. We’ve been stringing our hits together and scoring some runs.”

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

Two days, two wins for Alaska team in Arizona Fall Classic

The Alaska Baseball Academy continued its winning ways at the Arizona Fall Classic.

One day after beating a Canadian team, the ABA all-stars knocked off a team from California 4-1 behind the pitching performance of Nolan Monaghan of Wasilla and Jonny Homza from South.

Homza struck out six batters over four scoreless innings. He also singled. South’s Julito Fazzini doubled. Other Alaskans to get a base hit were Noah Alexander of Dimond, Lian Lincoln of South, Kasey Watts of Juneau and Raleigh Pigg of Service.

The ABA all-stars participate in the Arizona Fall Classic each year. The exhibition event helps showcase the best high school and American Legion players in Alaska. Dozens of college and pro scouts are on hand to evaluate the players.

Yesterday the Alaskans split a two-game series.

It started with a 4-3 win over Canada behind the play of Homza, who doubled twice, scored a run and drove in another. Pitcher Bryce Swofford of Juneau earned the win.

Monaghan drove in a pair of runs and Alexander singled, scored and swiped two bags.

In the nightcap, Alaska dropped a 4-1 decision to the SoCal Bombers. The Alaska hitters were limited to four hits but stayed in the game thanks to pitching by Tommy Koloski of South and Nathan Bonck of Ketchikan. 

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

Pro Baseball Clinic expands in Alaska to include more players

Five years ago the Professional Baseball Clinic was created in Anchorage to give kids the chance to receive 1-on-1 instruction from Major League Baseball coaches.

Now the clinic is expanding to Fairbanks and the Mat-Su Valley to include even more Alaskans.

Houston Astros coaches Brent Strom and Ralph Dickenson will be here next month for five days – Nov. 11 in Wasilla, Nov. 13-15 in Anchorage and Nov. 16 in Fairbanks.

All players welcome ages 9 to 18.

Strom is the pitching coach for the Houston Astros and Dickenson is the team’s hitting instructor. Together, they bring more than 70 years of coaching experience at the professional and collegiate level.

They are also driving forces behind this year’s Astros team that just knocked the New York Yankees out of the MLB playoffs.

Strom has been a winner at every level, winning a College World Series title as a player with Southern Cal in 1970 and a World Series title as a coach with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011. 

He also pitched five years in the bigs, throwing a complete game at old Yankee Stadium. This guy tossed 16 CGs in 75 career starts. 

Strom is in his third season as pitching coach for the Astros, one of the youngest and most promising teams in the game. This is his sixth season as the chief instructor at the Professional Baseball Clinic.

His return to Fairbanks will be a homecoming as Strom played for the Goldpanners back in the day.

Dickenson is coming for the first time, replacing fellow Astros hitting instructor Jeff Albert. Dickenson is in his first season with Houston as the team’s assistant hitting coach after serving as the organization's minor league hitting coordinator in 2013. 

Prior to joining the Astros, he spent three seasons (2010-12) as a hitting coach in the Toronto Blue Jays system. Today some of those players have helped the Blue Jays win the American League East title for the first time in 22 years. 

Overall in his career Dickenson has spent 20 seasons as a minor league hitting coordinator or instructor in the Brewers, Dodgers, Rangers, Yankees and Nationals organizations. 

This is Alaska’s only opportunity to get one-on-one training from MLB coaches.  

Don’t miss this opportunity.

These clinics are sponsored by the Alliance for Support of American Legion in Alaska, BP, Matson and Alaska Airlines.

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

Three Alaskans lead their college baseball teams in hitting

Between Anchorage’s Sagan Osborne at Dickinson State, Juneau’s Lance Ibesate at Jamestown and Anchorage’s Stephen Ferntheil at Mayville State, Alaska is booming with batters.

All three guys lead their team in hitting.

Osborne, of Dimond High fame, is batting .476 in 10 games. He has at least one base hit in every game and is 20-for-42 this fall.

“I try to be aggressive early in the count and not get into too many two-strike counts,” he told me. “Obviously, hitting gets harder when you give the pitcher his choice of pitches.”

Osborne, a junior who moved from third base to shortstop, also leads his team with 7 RBIs.

An all-star in high school and American Legion, Osborne never translated his talent to the college level until he reached Dickinson State in North Dakota.

“It feels great to contribute every day and just know that my team can count on me,” he said. “I think I’ve just finally relaxed into a groove like I used to.”

The success hasn’t gone to his head. In fact, he wants to clear his head each time he steps into the box.

“I think in the last few years I’ve tried to do too much at the plate,” Osborne said. “I tried to be too perfect and tried to force things to happen that I thought I needed to do in that situation.

“This year I’ve just gone back to hitting the ball where it’s pitched and good things have happened.”

Ibesate, of Juneau-Douglas High fame, leads undefeated Jamestown [ND] in hitting with a .423 average in seven games.

The junior second baseman extended his hitting streak to 10 games dating back to last season.

Ibesate has an RBI in the last six straight games this fall. 

He’s also scored 11 runs and swiped five bases.

Ibesate hit .368 in 46 games last year for Jamestown.

At Mayville State [ND], Ferntheil is the new kid in town but he’s up to his old tricks.

The junior catcher is ripping the ball for a team-best .556 batting average in eight games.

He is 13-for-23 with a half dozen starts with two hits. He also has six RBIs.

Ferntheil, of Service High fame, hit .329 in 44 games last summer with East Georgia State.

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

Osborne really coming into his own at Dickinson State

Sagan Osborne of Anchorage is finally delivering on his promising potential as a teenager.

Playing at his third college, the 21-year-old has rediscovered his hitting stroke for Dickinson State of North Dakota and is back to hitting the ball the way that made him one of Alaska’s top high school players.

Osborne enjoyed the best weekend of his college career Saturday against the University of Winnipeg and Sunday against Mayville State while extending his hitting streak to six games.

In the first series he went 4-for-9 with 5 RBIs as Dickinson swept Winnipeg. In the second series he was 2-for-7 in a pair of losses.

He is batting .360 [9-for-25] during the fall ball portion of the NAIA 2015-16 season.

Osborne, of Dimond High fame, has struck out just once in 28 plate appearances.

Other Alaskans fared well this weekend too.

At Mayville State, relief pitcher Zach Ferntheil of Anchorage extended his scoreless streak to five innings.

His older brother Stephen Ferntheil went 2-for-3 in the first game of the doubleheader. The catcher now has three consecutive games with at least two hits.

Outfielder Aaron Miller of Anchorage went 3-for-7 in the two games.

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

Alaskans begin college fall ball season on high note in Dakotas

The Dakotas were full of Alaskans playing NAIA baseball over the weekend during the fall season.

The Jamestown-Mayville State series in North Dakota had four local players while the Dickinson State-Presentation series in South Dakota featured one.

Jamestown swept Sunday's doubleheader with the help of Juneau's Lance Ibesate.

The starting second baseman went 3-for-7 [.429] with a triple, RBI and walk.

Ibesate also made all eight plays on defense.

Mayville State has a trio of Anchorage players: starting left fielder Aaron Miller, starting catcher Stephen Ferntheil and relief pitcher Zach Ferntheil.

Miller went hitless this weekend but he’s probably the most accomplished player on the field with a .345 career average in 128 games. 

Ferntheil, the bashing backstop, went 2-for-3 in the first game. Nobody tried to steal on him. He did not play in the second game.

The junior transferred from East Georgia College where he hit .329 in 44 games last season.

His younger brother Zach also transferred to Mayville State. 

The right-hander made a delightful debut with his new team by pitching three shutout innings of relief. He came in with his team trailing 4-2 and threw scoreless frames in the fifth, sixth and seventh to keep the Comets in the game.

In South Dakota against Presentation, Sagan Osborne of Anchorage started well in his first game with his new team Dickinson State of North Dakota.

He started at third base and went 2-for-5 with a run and two assists in the field as his team won 10-3. He went 1-for-3 with two assists and two putouts in a Game 2 loss.  

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

Juneau loses 10-6 at NWCART in final game for Coach Macaulay

Juneau Post 25 outhit the Fremont Silverwolves and matched the Utah team run for run for the first seven innings before losing an elimination game at the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament in Logan, Utah.

In a back and forth game that saw the lead change hands several times, Fremont finally pulled away in the eighth inning to post a 10-6 victory over the Southeast Alaska team. 

It was the final game for manager Andy Macaulay, who stepped down after coaching the Legion AA team for three seasons and serving as the Midnight Suns Baseball Club since 2006.

Macaulay, a coach of the year winner, compiled a 70-29 record with Juneau and led Post 25 to the NWCART in each of the last two years and won three games.

This year his team went 1-2 and finished fifth.

Juneau led today’s game 3-2 before Utah went ahead 4-3. Finn Collins hit into a fielder’s choice to score RJ Markovich and tie it at 4-4.

Utah went up 7-4 in the top of the sixth before Michael Cesar’s line drive up the middle scored Jacob Dale and Matt Cunningham in the bottom half to make it 7-6. 

Juneau outhit Utah 13-12.

Markovich started and pitched six innings. Jacob Thibodeau threw the final three.

Markovich, Collins and Jake Tanner each doubled and combined for eight hits and four RBIs.

Macaulay addressed his team the final time after the game.

“I told them that it was a privilege to coach them and I’m excited to see where they go from here,” he said. “I told them that the way they can thank me is by paying it forward later in their life; get involved in their community and be a positive role model to the kids.”

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

Juneau wins, Kenai loses on Day 1 of NWCART in Utah

Kasey Watts and Alex Muir hit back-to-back doubles in the ninth inning to lift Juneau Post 25 to victory on opening day of the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament in Logan, Utah.

Juneau posted a 3-2 victory over the Nampa Braves of Idaho to advance in the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination American Legion tournament.

Alaska’s other team, Kenai Post 20, wasn’t as fortunate and lost 14-4 to the Cody Cubs of Wyoming.

Juneau [27-4] got strong pitching, defense and hitting – all the key ingredients to having postseason success.

“Very proud how well they played together in such a close game,” Juneau manager Andy Macaulay told me. “Very proud of my boys.”

Juneau took a 2-0 lead in the third inning after RJ Markovich delivered a two-run double. That scored Jacob Thibodeau and Matt Cunningham, who had both singled.

Starting pitcher Nathan Klein was his usually awesome self and carried a shutout into the seventh inning.

Alaska’s most dominant pitcher, Klein has carved up the competition this year with a 9-1 record and 0.88 ERA. He didn’t factor into the decision, but struck out 13 batters in 6.2 innings of work.

“Nathan dominated the first five innings, then it got real muggy and he started to fade in the seventh,” Macaulay said.

Klein was pulled in favor of Markovich, who pitched 1.1 innings and picked up the win in relief.

Thibodeau closed it out in the ninth for the save.

The three pitchers combined for 17 Ks.

Markovich, who won the Big Stick Award at the state tournament, continued to tear the cover off the ball.

“RJ is still crushing,” Macaulay said. “He hit a shot about 370,380 [feet] to right center only to be robbed by their centerfielder with a ‘SportsCenter’ highlight diving catch.”

Juneau will play again Saturday at 5:30 ADT against the winner between the Bitterroot Rex Sox of Montana and host Logan, Utah.

Kenai will also play Saturday, facing the Fremont Silverwolves of Utah at 7:30 a.m. ADT. 

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

Chugiak out at Regionals; Kenai, Juneau start NWCART Friday

The Chugiak Post 33 Legion AA team was eliminated from the Northwest Regional after its second loss in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Bellevue [WA] struck early and often en route to a 20-2 victory at Powers Field.

The Washington state champions scored 12 runs in the first three innings and banged out a total of 17 hits.

Chugiak was never in this one, maybe a result of lingering disappointment over yesterday's 9-5 loss to Gillette [WY] after blowing a 4-0 lead.

The six errors didn't help.

Vander Lekites went 2-for-3 with an RBI and Blake Kutch was 1-for-2 with an RBI.

State tournament MVP Charlie Bucolo collected a pair of base hits.

Chugiak finished the Legion season with a 29-5 record.

The postseason is over for Chugiak, but it's just beginning for Kenai Post 20 and Juneau Post 25.

Those teams begin play Friday in the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament in Logan, Utah.

Juneau, Alaska's No. 2 team in the tournament, plays Idaho at 10:30 ADT.

Kenai, the state runnerup is Alaska's No. 1 team, takes on Wyoming at 2:30 p.m.

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

1 - Next Page

American Legion 2015 Highlights

SE 2015 Tournament Highlights

2015 Legion AA Standings

Team Points League
**Chugiak Post 33 69 17-1
Juneau Post 25 66 16-2
South Post 4 54 12-6
Dimond Post 21 51 11-7
Valley Post 35/15 51 11-7
Kenai Post 20 51 11-7
Fairbanks Post 11 51 11-7
Fairbanks Post 30 48 10-8
Service Post 28 45 9-9
Kodiak Post 17 45 9-9
Ketchikan Post 3 39 7-11
Eagle River 30 4-14
West Post 1 27 3-15
East Post 34 24 2-16
Bartlett Post 29 23 2-16

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]

**State champion


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

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