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

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 6, 2015

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.”

SOUTH 8, JUNEAU 3

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.