Teamwork Carries South Wolverines to First State Title
Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 7, 2011
But it wasn’t until a solid showing on the road in April against Southeast powers Juneau and Sitka that the idea was truly planted in their heads. The Wolverines split a two-game series with Juneau and hung tough with Sitka in two losses, proving they had the right stuff. “That’s when we knew, wow, we could really have a good team,’ ” said South all-conference senior Patrick Enslow. “Once we knew we could hang with those guys … we figured we’d be up there.”
He was right.
South upset defending state champion Juneau in the first round and followed that up with victories over Lathrop in the semifinals and Cook Inlet Conference champion Dimond in a thrilling championship game that went extra innings at Hermon Brothers Field in Palmer. In Saturday's final, the Wolverines outlasted the Lynx in a 14-8 slugfest that went 12 innings.
“After that game I was completely beat,” said Enslow, his voice still hoarse a day later. “Four hours. It was intense. It was crazy.” It was also the first state title for South, an Anchorage school that produced American Legion state championships in 2007 and 2009 but had never translated that same success to the high school season.
“My job is to keep them fired up and motivated but I haven’t had to work real hard to do that,” South coach Chris Williams said. “This group of guys really closed and they have been pretty fired up coming into the tournament. For a lot of guys this was a last chance at the high school things, and I think they really wanted to make a solid run at it.”
The Wolverines did it by beating a veteran Dimond squad that was making its third straight appearance in the title game and had just beaten South on consecutive days just a week earlier – once in the regular-season finale and again in the one-game CIC playoff.
South didn’t just win when it mattered most, it got key contributions from offensive stars like Andrew Schafer (3 RBIs), Cal McKim (2 RBIs) and Enslow (2 RBIs) and shutout relief pitching from Bryan Baker, who tossed goose eggs in the 10th, 11th and 12th. “Guys were executing, even guys that don’t normally hit a whole lot were executing hit-and-run, bunts, whatever,” Williams said. “Once we got comfortable late we hit. That was kind of our MO every game. We’d scratch for one, two, three runs in the first four or five innings and then when guys would settle in we’d seem to hit a little better and we’d manufacture runs offensively without having to do a lot of bunting.”
Baker replaced ace Josh Crapps, who was pitching for the third consecutive day, and shut down arguably the state’s top offensive club. “They hit the hell out of the ball; that’s what makes them so good,” Enslow said. “But once Baker came in and struck out the side, I had a good feeling. He came to play.”
Another tournament hero for South was Kyle Frazier, who clubbed two home runs in the first two games. His grand slam fueled an 8-3 win over Juneau in the first round and his two-run shot highlighted a 6-5 win over Lathrop in the final four.
A converted pitcher and infielder, Frazier – the starting quarterback for the South football team – now roams left field. His defense is solid, but his bread and butter is hitting.
“He’s definitely an even-keel guy. He never gets too up or too down, he just stays level,” Enslow said. “He really turned it on at the state tournament. He was playing out of his mind.”
Baseball State Tournament History Past Champions