Ferntheils lead Service to Midnight Sun championship

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 30, 2011

Brother to brother equals title for Service Post 28


By Van Williams


When doubt momentarily crept into his head during the fourth inning of Sunday’s Midnight Sun Invitational title game, Service Post 28 pitcher Zach Ferntheil needed a pep talk.

Luckily for him his older brother Stephen doubles as his catcher.

“I think that’s when he lost his no-hitter. I could tell he was mad about that," Stephen Ferntheil said with a laugh.

“I just told him to calm down. I think me knowing him definitely helps. We’re usually on the same page of what I want him to throw. I just know him and I know how he likes to attack people.”

After big brother got little bro to settle down, he mowed down batters from Fairbanks Post 11/30/57 to highlight Service’s 3-1 win in the championship game in Fairbanks.

Zach Ferntheil’s complete-game gem included just one walk.

The 16-year-old delivered a two-run single at the plate as part of a terrific two-way performance that earned him MVP honors for the Midnight Sun Invitational.

He couldn’t have done it without his older brother’s help.

Stephen Fernthiel is coming off his freshman season at Shoreline Community College in Washington, where he learned to be a catcher after the top catchers went down with thumb injures. His coach asked for volunteers to take on the tools of ignorance and he accepted the challenge.

“It kind of took off from there,” he said.

Moments like Sunday’s brother battery was why Stephen Ferntheil decided to return for his final season of American Legion. The 19-year-old is the first player in the history of Service Post 28 to play in six different seasons.

It’s not often that you get to play baseball with your brother, though, especially when there’s a three-year age difference, so he jumped on the opportunity like a 2-0 fastball.

“I love playing baseball with my brother,” said Stephen Ferntheil. “It just makes it 10 times better. I make sure I catch every single game he pitches.”

The funny thing is he almost doesn’t recognize his younger brother.

Zach Ferntheil, who will be a junior in high school, has bulked up and slimmed down. He’s more poised and polished than ever.

During the high school season he was one of just four starting pitchers named to the All-Cook Inlet Conference First Team.

Earlier this month he started for the Bill Lierman College Coach’s Clinic All-Stars in the annual exhibition game against the Anchorage Bucs of the Alaska Baseball League.

He can also start at first base and third base as well as backup at shortstop, thanks to improved foot speed.

But pitching is his main focus.

It’s something he learned from his older brother. 

“A lot of my baseball success  I attribute to him, so it’s really nice to have him out there keeping me focused and everything,” he said. “I didn’t actually think he was going to come back and play this year, but I think it’s pretty awesome that he did.”