Lanier, Bucolo lead Chugiak Post 33 to Legion state championship

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 1, 2015

STATE TOURNAMENT

Chugiak 6, Kenai 0

They call him Jimmy, but he might as well go by 'Big Game James' Lanier.

The Chugiak Post 33 right-handed pitcher rose to the occasion once again, this time pitching a 3-hit shutout over Kenai Post 20 to highlight a 6-0 victory in the championship game of the Legion AA State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Lanier was marvelous on the mound and got lots of help from his friends, especially second baseman Charlie Bucolo.

Bucolo crushed a 3-run home run to left field in the third inning that pushed the lead to 4-0.

It was the second bomb in two games for Bucolo, who batted .444 with two HRs and eight RBIs in the tournament to collect Most Valuable Player honors.

With the win, No. 1 Chugiak improved to 29-3 and will represent Alaska at the Northwest Regional next week in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Kenai is going to the Northwest Class A Regional in Logan, Utah, which also starts next week.

This was Chugiak's eighth Legion state championship in school history, ranking second on Alaska's all-time list. East has the most with 10.

The Mustangs controlled the title game in every aspect.

Lanier, who took the tournament's Top Pitcher award, was rock solid until a little hiccup in the ninth inning when he loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batsman.

He pitched 15.1 innings over two appearances at state and finished 2-0 with a 1.76 ERA.

Lanier has been huge all year - he was the winning pitcher when Chugiak won the high school state title and again when Chugiak beat Castroville, Texas, during the BP Invitational.

Offensively, Bucolo went yard and Jake Kindred, Zach Brueggemann and Sam Hanson collected RBIs.

Brueggemann doubled off the left-field wall, missing a home run by five feet.

The all-star right fielder also threw out a runner at first base on a rare 9-3 putout. Chugiak also picked off a runner at second base and got another out on the base paths in a rundown.

Doug Henie's Chugiak club is now 44-7 since high school.

Kenai deserves a lot of credit. Not only did the No. 6 Twins win five consecutive elimination games to reach the championship game, but they beat Chugiak 7-6 earlier in the day to force an if-necessary game.

In the first game, Kenai jumped to a 7-2 lead before hanging on for dear life after escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the ninth inning.

Kyle Johnson picked up the win and Justice Miller got the save. Johnson limited Chugiak's hot bats to just two hits over five innings of work. Johnson finished the tournament with a 0.75 ERA in 12 innings.

Miller was one of his team's best players the entire week and won the tournament's Gold Glove award.

Juneau's RJ Markovich won the tournament's Big Stick award after hitting .400 with five RBIs and five extra-base hits in four games.

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