Run it back: Chugiak, South meet in rematch of 2015 final

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 3, 2016

ASAA/First National Bank Alaska State Tournament

Friday's Schedule / Scores

At Mulcahy Stadium, Anchorage

Day 2

Loser's Bracket

Lathrop 11, Soldotna 9

Wasilla 4, Monroe Catholic 3

Semifinals

South 4, Sitka 0

Chugiak 4, Ketchikan 3

GAME RECAPS

Chugiak 4, Ketchikan 3

Even though baseball comes down to individual matchups, the game is a team sport all the way.

Just ask the Mustangs.

With ace Cody Curfman not pitching his best early on, Chugiak closer Matt Hess stepped in to throw a season-high 4.1 innings to preserve a slim lead in the state semifinal.

“Matt was great tonight,” Curfman told me. “I just didn’t have it tonight and for Matt to come up big in that situation is huge.”

Hess allowed only one run and wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning with a fly out.

“I misplaced a couple pitches and they capitalized because they are a great hitting team,” Hess told me. “But my team stayed positive and always has my back. They are a great defense and they made the plays they needed to get me out of the jam.”

Chugiak advanced to the state championship game for a rematch of last year’s title matchup with Cook Inlet Conference rival South.

Chugiak beat South 10 days ago for the CIC title. Hess finished off that game, too.

“I love closing games,” said Hess, who has two saves. “It’s an awesome feeling coming into a close game and being the one that gets to finish it on the mound.”

Jake Kindred went 3-for-3 and scored twice. Brady Lindberg drove in two runs and Charlie Bucolo and Curfman each added RBIs.

This was the second straight game the Mustangs put up a crooked number on the scoreboard. Last night it was a five-run first inning against Monroe Catholic. Tonight was it a three-run third.

“We always love to come out hitting first [as visitor],” Curfman said. “When we get a few runs early it really propels us through the rest of the game; and knocks down the confidence of the other team’s pitcher.”

In the seventh inning, Ketchikan gunned down an insurance run on a beautiful relay from left fielder Jackson Pool to shortstop Jacob Shay to catcher Nate Fousel, who tagged out Hess at the plate.

The throw home needed to be perfect to get him.

“It was a good throw and a good tag,” Hess said. “I don’t know if I was out, but it was a tough call and could have gone either way for sure. Very clutch play by them.”

Ketchikan's Nathan Bonck went 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs. Teammates Spencer Erickson and Mo Bullock each had two hits.

South 4, Sitka 0

Even though he stood alone on the mound for South in Friday’s state tournament semifinals, starting pitcher Parker Johnson never felt like he was on an island.

He pitches to contact and relies on his defense to make plays behind him.

“I’m not able to overpower hitters,” Johnson told me. “I just try to keep them off balance to get my fielders plays and they always have my back, which is nice.”

The junior right-hander shut out the Southeast Conference champions by scattering six hits and three walks over seven innings of work.

He got the big outs when he needed as Sitka stranded eight runners on base.

“It definitely helps having the best fielders in the state behind me,” Johnson said. “I relied on my changeup, trying to keep hitters off balance and give my team a chance to make plays in the field. They made some big plays for me today, as they always do.”

It’s not just the defense, though. Johnson ended the season with a 15-inning scoreless streak. And his win helped South advance to the state championship game for the fourth consecutive year, looking for first title since 2013. 

“It’s exciting,” he said. “I can’t wait.”

The Wolverines got base hits from eight of nine starters and major contributions from the bottom of the lineup as Sladen Mohl, Anthony Maldonado, Max Costello and Trevor McGinnis combined to score three runs and drive in another.

Sitka starter Kyle Fitzsimmons went the distance and had only one bad inning, throwing goose eggs in four frames. He gave up eight hits and three earned runs in six innings.

Sitka coach Matt Way - a 2009 fifth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies - knows a thing or two about pitching and he liked what he saw from both starting pitchers.

"Both had good control of their offspeed and both worked out of some big jams," Way told me. "It was a fun game. In the end, it came down to defensive execution. We got outplayed today."

Wasilla 4, Monroe Catholic 3

Hank Boyer bunted home Jeffery Forster from third base to allow the Warriors to walk off with an extra-inning game to avoid elimination.

The Southcentral Conference champions scored single runs in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings to advance to the fourth-place game of the state tournament.

Koby Burns hit the tying home run in the sixth, which ultimately forced an extra inning of play.

Nolan Monaghan, Jimmy Arend and Boyer also had RBIs for Wasilla.

Monroe Catholic led 3-1 through four innings, thanks to runs scored by Izak Lohrke, Miachael Richter and Dyland Steele.

Starter Gavin Jackson didn't get the decision. He pitched well, though, scattering four runs over seven innings. 

Burns started for Wasilla and struck out 10 batters over six innings.

Reliever Austin Robertson pitched two scorless frame for the win.

Lathrop 11, Soldotna 9

Mason Wilken's two-run triple capped a five-run fifth inning rally and proved to be the difference for the Malemutes of Fairbanks in an elimination game.

Wilken, the No. 9 hitter, finished 2-for-3 with four RBIs as the Mid Alaska Conference champions survived to play another day.

Vonche Wood, James Kardash, Evan Wilken and Sam Greenburg also drove in runs for Lathrop.

The Malemutes won despite issuing a combined 13 walks by four pitchers. The offense also had a lot of base runners and scored in five different innings.

Soldotna pitcher Chase Reed came out of the bullpen and threw three innings to get the win and help Lathrop move on to Saturday’s fourth-place game.

Soldotna's Joe Becher doubled, drove in two runs and scored twice. Teammate Kolten Wilson also had two RBIs.

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