State Tournament: E.R. pushes streak to 10; Palmer ends game with 8 players; Chugiak ends postseason skid

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Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 23, 2023

Come to the ballpark long enough and you will see just about everything.

But there were a few surprises in Sunday night’s game between South and Palmer.

South’s 4-3 victory at the Alaska Legion state tournament at Mulcahy Stadium saw both teams being taken off the field due to an unruly fan, two players stealing three bases in one trip and Palmer ending the game with eight players on defense.

In the sixth inning, the game was delayed for five minutes after umpires pulled players off the field due to someone climbing the wall in right field. Moments after things resumed, Skylar Sugita stroked a two-out double that put South ahead 4-1 and proved to be the game-winning RBI.

South’s Robert Hughes and Palmer’s Kaesen Buzby each went around-the-world on the base paths as Hughes stole second, third and home in the first inning and Buzby stole second, third and home in the fifth inning.

Buzby was ejected in the bottom of the sixth inning after striking out, forcing the Pioneers to play the seventh with eight players on defense. They used two outfielders and relief pitcher Dylen Crowther threw a scoreless frame, with South never hitting the ball out of the infield.

71st Alaska Legion State Tournament
@ Mulcahy Stadium
Denali Pool

#1 Eagle River 3-0
#3 Kenai 2-1
#8 South 1-2
#6 Palmer 0-3
Alyeska Pool
#2 Service 3-0
#5 Dimond 2-1
#4 Chugiak 1-2
#7 West 0-3
Sunday Day 4 of 6
Chugiak 5, West 4
Eagle River 8, Kenai 4
South 4, Palmer 3
Off Day: Service, Dimond
Monday Day 5 of 6
2:30pm Semifinals
#3 Kenai (21-11) vs. #2 Service (24-7)
5:30pm Semifinals
#5 Dimond (18-10) vs. #1 Eagle River (24-8)
Tuesday Day 6 of 6
5:30pm Championship Game

Palmer has 14 players on its roster and started mostly reserves and then replaced them with starters later in the game. One of those starters who came into the game late was Malachi Mukaabya, who suffered a hand injury after tagging a runner in a rundown and left the game.

With no re-entry at the state tournament, Palmer head coach Matt Ketchum was forced to finish with eight players.

South starter Gavin Lawrence picked up the win with 4.1 innings pitched, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out five. Braun Precosky picked up the save with 2.2 innings of relief and six punchouts.

Hughes racked up four stolen bases. He swiped home on the back end of a double steal whereas Buzby stole home on the catcher’s toss back to the pitcher between pitches.

Palmer’s Nate Wilson got his team within 4-3 in the sixth with a two-run single that scored Bryant Marks and Landon Guggenmos, who both singled to lead off the inning.

South 101 011 0 – 4 7 2
Palmer 000 012 0 – 3 4 1
South – Lawrence, Precosky (5) and Bonin. Palmer – Buzby, Crowther (6) and Satterly, Br.Marks (5). W – Lawrence. L – Buzby. SV – Precosky. 2B – Sugita (S). 3B – None. HR – None.

Eagle River 8, Kenai 4
Alex Mullen mashed a two-run home run in the fifth inning to create some separation for the Wolves, who doubled up the Twins to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Denali Pool.

With Eagle River nursing a 4-3 cushion, Gunner Mountcastle reached base on a 10-pitch walk before Mullen crushed a no-doubt dinger over the left-field wall.

With the victory, the Wolves became the first team in Alaska Legion history to win 10 consecutive games at the state tournament. They were also the first team to win nine in a row.

Mullen and Mountcastle each finished with two RBIs. Mountcastle had a two-run, two-out double in the second inning to stake Eagle River to a 4-0 lead.

Kenai pulled within 4-3 in the third inning on RBIs from Charlie Chamberlain, Gabe Smith and Levi Mickelson. Chamberlain’s RBI was his state-leading 38th of the summer.

Enter Ryan Mullen, who came in relief and stopped the bleeding. He earned a strikeout to end the Kenai threat in the third and pitched a 1-2-3 frame in the fourth.

Kenai trailed 5-3 in the fifth and nearly tied it when Andrew Pieh pounded a pitch off the top of the wall in left field, missing a home run by a few feet. He settled for an RBI double.

The next inning Alex Mullen hit the ball over the wall in the same place, making a winner out of Ryan Mullen, who struck out six over 4.1 innings.

Kenai 003 010 0 – 4 5 0
Eagle River 131 021 x – 8 6 1
Kenai – Williams, Pieh (4), Jones (5) and Stuyvesant. Eagle River – Johannes, R.Mullen (3) and J.Mullen. W – R.Mullen. L – Williams. 2B – Pieh (K), G.Smith (K), Mountcastle (ER). 3B – None. HR – A.Mullen (ER).

Chugiak 5, West 4
Pinch-hitter Connor Lanehart singled home Blake Yawit with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Mustangs used a walk-off win to end a miserable run at the state tournament.

The win capped a three-run comeback and snapped Chugiak’s nine-game postseason losing streak dating back to 2020.

The Mustangs own a state-best 121 league wins since 2013 but for some reason couldn’t translate that success at state.

Yawit, a first-year Mustangs player, singled to lead off the seventh, stole second base, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Lanehart's one-out base knock.

Yawit finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs. Fischer Sims was 3-for-4 with two runs. Jack Carron, Landon Luebke and Hunter Rau also knocked in runs for Chugiak.

West built a 4-1 lead in the second inning thanks to RBIs from Orion Halliburton and Cyrus Clendaniel, a balk and a double steal that saw Braden Meissner come home from third.

Credit Chugiak relief pitcher Josh Westerman for keeping his team in the game as the right-hander threw five scoreless innings.

West starter Liam Gunn went six innings, scattering eight hits and four runs, and getting a 5-4 double play behind him.

West 220 000 0 – 4 5 1
Chugiak 100 021 1 – 5 10 2
West – Gunn, Meissner (7) and Fitzgerald. Chugiak – Morgan, Westerman (3) and H.Rau. W – Westerman. L – Meissner. 2B – Halliburton (W). 3B – None. HR – None.