Matson: MVP Alley pitches Palmer to 3-2 win for title
Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 29, 2020
Palmer’s Ben Alley came up big in the biggest game of the year for the Palmer Pioneers, pitching a complete game to highlight a 3-2 win over South Open in the championship game of the Matson Invitational at Mulcahy Stadium.
Alley threw 90 pitches and got the final out with the trying run on third base.
Coupled with his five-out save in the first meeting between these teams, Alley proved to be the most pivotal piece to a championship squad and earned the Matson MVP Award. He also collected some key base hits in the tournament.
But it was his excellent effort on the mound that cemented his place in Matson history.
The right-hander allowed just three hits and walked four batters, including two in the seventh inning. Alley also hit a batter in the seventh but managed to pitch out of trouble and end the game with a fly ball to right fielder Evan Walker.
Walker played a huge role in helping Palmer (15-11) beat South (23-8) twice in three meetings in the tournament.
Walker doubled in the first run of the game in the first inning, made a nice basket catch to end the third inning and started a relay to first baseman Carson McLaughlin to catcher Brady Shults to gun down a South baserunner at the plate in the fourth inning.
McLaughlin also played well defensively, having a nice dig, tag and relay for separate outs.
Defense was the name of the game and why this was the lowest scoring Matson championship game since the tournament was created in 2014.
Palmer’s Luke Guggenmos scored two runs in the title game – both on sac flies, the first by Brayden Methven in the first inning to make it 2-0 and the second by Kaden Ketchum in the third inning to make it 3-1.
South’s Kellen Curtis played his heart out.
He scored his team’s first run in the first inning on a wild pitch. He pitched 4.2 innings of shutout relief. He had an RBI. And his hustle down the first-base line on a fielder’s choice denied a potential game-ending double play and extended the game with two outs in the seventh inning.
Oliver Brown of South might have been the most talented player in the tournament.
Whether he was pitching, fielding or hitting, good things happened for the Wolverines. He was a finalist for three tournament awards and won the Gold Glove Award. He could have been top pitcher or most valuable.
Brown tossed a 5-hit complete-game shutout with eight strikeouts to lead the way in a 5-0 win over Palmer to hand the Pioneers their first loss of the tournament and forcing the if-necessary game for the championship.
The Matson’s Top Pitcher Award went to North Pole Wild right-hander Gavin Fischer, who turned in one of the greatest pitching performances in tournament history with a 3-hit complete-game shutout with 13 strikeouts against Service.
The Big Stick Award was given to Service’s Henry Helgeson, a right-handed slugger who batted .500 for the tournament with two home runs and two doubles. He struck out only once in 12 plate appearances.
THROUGH THE YEARS
Matson Invitational Title Games
2020 Palmer 3, South Open 2
2019 Ketchikan 6, Eagle River 1
2018 Wasilla 8, Eagle River 3
2017 Ketchikan 7, Eagle River 2
2016 North Pole 6, East 4
2015 Service 8, Ketchikan 3
2014 North Pole 11, Fairbanks 4