Southeast, Cook Inlet dominate on first day at State

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 2, 2016

ASAA/First National Bank Alaska State Tournament

Thursday's Schedule / Scores

At Mulcahy Stadium, Anchorage

Day 1, First Round

Sitka 12, Soldotna 2

Ketchikan 11, Wasilla 1

South 11, Lathrop 1

Chugiak 11, Monroe Catholic 0

GAME RECAPS

Chugiak 11, Monroe Catholic 0

The defending state champion Mustangs didn’t waste any time as the first seven batters of the game reached base to ignite a five-run first inning.

Charlie Bucolo drove in four runs and Cook Inlet Conference MVP Cody Curfman had three hits and two RBIs for Chugiak.

“Our leaders stepped up today,” Chugiak’s Brady Lindberg told me. “The first rally definitely takes a lot of pressure at the start. It feels good having a strong offense to back my pitching.”

Lindberg threw three scoreless innings on the mound and at the plate he knocked in two runs to help his own cause.

The right-hander allowed one hit and two walks. He struck out four.

“I started to get in my head a lot,” Lindberg said. “I struggled, but I had my defense to back me after I settled down.”

Brian Wing pitched the final two innings to close the door for the CIC champions.

Monroe Catholic is making just its second appearance at the state tournament in school history.

The Rams of Fairbanks have one of the youngest teams in the state and their future looks bright.

Chugiak has now won four straight games at the state tournament, dating back to last season.

South 11, Lathrop 1

After losing the Cook Inlet Conference championship game nine days ago, the Wolverines had plenty of time to prepare for the state tournament. They also had a ton of time to hit.

“We have been hitting a lot during the break between the CIC championship game and today,” South’s Tommy Koloski told me. “We came into the game wanting to get back to playing how we know we can.”

The Wolverines banged out 11 hits in just four frames of work. The game was called after the top of the fifth inning.

“We don’t want another second place and we need to come out swinging with authority these next few games,” said Koloski, the winning pitcher.

South's Matt Kley and Sladen Mohl each had two hits and two RBIs. Teammates Lian Lincoln and Julito Fazzini also drove in two runs apiece.

The Wolverines took a 3-0 lead in the first inning, thanks in part to a pair of bases-loaded walks. They put the Mid-Alaska Conference champions away with a six-run second inning.

“We were hitting for so long, by the time I went back out I felt that I needed to warm up all over again,” said Koloski, who has a 0.95 ERA over his last 22 innings. “I’m glad that I only went three innings so I can come back for another game and do what I do best.”

Lathrop's Colin King had two base hits and Evan Wilken drove in his team's lone run.

Ketchikan 11, Wasilla 1

The Kings jumped all over the Southcentral Conference champion Warriors with four runs in the first inning - all with two outs - to propel them in the first round.

Ketchikan added another run in the second inning and three more in the third inning before Wasilla got on the scoreboard.

Last year's Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year Nathan Bonk pitched beautifully, scattering four hits over seven innings with 11 strikeouts. The only run he allowed was unearned.

"Pretty solid game," Bonck told me. "I kept the pitch count down and threw all my offspeed for strikes."

Wasilla was the only team in the state to go undefeated in league play.

But Ketchikan wasn't going to be denied.

Mo Bullock and Jackson Pool each collected four RBIs as the Kings outhit Wasilla 12-4.

"Out bats came alive," said Bonck, who went 2-for-4.

Wasilla pitcher Nolan Monaghan struck out a dozen batters in six innings of relief.

Sitka 12, Soldotna 2

Vaughn Blankenship pitched a complete game and Ky Stockel delivered RBIs in the third, fifth and sixth innings as the Southeast Conference champion Wolves rolled in the first round.

Blankenship allowed two runs and four hits [two triples] in the first inning, then settled down nicely. He allowed only one hit over the final six frames.

He struck out 11 batters.

"This win was huge for us," Sitka coach Matt Way told me. "Blankenship is always super tough on the mound, but unfortunately he doesn't get tough until he gives up a run or two.

"He battles, though, and that's what all great pitchers have in common."

Stockel, Dayton Cropper and Josh Young each had two hits as Sitka pounded out 11 against Soldotna ace Joe Becher.

Becher threw two of the team's three no-hitters during the regular season.

Eight Sitka players scored runs and seven drove in runs. Trevor Dalton and Cropper each had two RBIs.

"The offense is one of our biggest weapons this year," Way said. "Where we used to rely on pitching and defense, this year we have worked a ton on our hitters' approach at the plate and it's great to see the guys having success."

This was the first state tournament win for Way, a former hometown hero who pitched at Washington State and the professional ranks.

Way took over last year after longtime coach Ed Conway retired after leading the Wolves to the 2014 state championship.

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