Chad Nading of Anchorage hasn’t been involved in a playoff race in years.
The 28-year-old relief pitcher now finds himself right in the middle of one in the American Association, an independent professional baseball league that plays 100 games in the regular season.
With 24 to play, the Wichita Wingnuts lead the Laredo Lemurs by 5.5 games.
“This is the best group of guys I've played with in professional baseball and manager Pete Rose Jr. is the ultimate player's coach and makes baseball free and easy every day,” he told me.
Nading, of East Post 34 fame, has pitched six times in the last eight days. No more evidence is needed to prove how valuable this guy is to Wichita’s bullpen.
The 6-foot-6 flamethrower has pitched in each of the last three days, including tonight’s one-out hold to end the eighth inning in a 9-7 win over the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
“My velocity has been 93-97 mph with slider, curveball and changeup,” he said.
Nading has appeared in a career-high 30 games on the year, carding a 2.45 ERA in 29.1 innings.
Few people would have stuck with a sport like Nading did with baseball, which hasn’t always treated the Alaska ace well.
Early on, though, the game came easy.
At East High, he was a two-time Cook Inlet Conference MVP in 2006 and 2005. With East Legion Post 34 he won a state title all four years he played and was named the State Tournament MVP and Top Pitcher award winner in 2006.
He was drafted in the 36th round by the Detroit Tigers in 2006, but opted to play college baseball. He signed with Oregon State but wound up pitching at Skagit Valley Community College. After one season he transferred to UNLV, where he pitched for two years and then was drafted in the 37th round by the Texas Rangers in 2009.
In 2010, he started his pro career in rookie ball with the San Diego Padres organization.
He bounced around independent leagues in 2011 and 2012.
In 2013, Nading participated in extended spring training with the Boston Red Sox.
In 2014, he went to Japan and played with the Ishikawa Million Stars.
He didn’t play last year.
“I have to tell you the last two years have been a real test for me as a baseball player and a person,” Nading said. “After leaving Japan I sat down and thought about what I really wanted to accomplish with the rest of my career.”
Meanwhile, he changed his pitching motion more than area codes. He was all over the place, searching for the right delivery. He found the right formula in Wichita.
“I have been through just about every arm slot and style since leaving high school in 2006, but lack of success has left me determined to find the real me and chase that success I've been desperate to feel,” Nading said.
Service Post 28 twice jumped out to an early lead before fading down the stretch in a 10-4 loss to the Hailey Post 24 Wood River Wranglers of Idaho.
It happened in an elimination game on Day 3 of the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament in Laurel, Montana.
Service finished 1-2 in the tournament – the fourth straight year a team from Alaska won a game at the NWCART.
“As a coaching staff we can't be prouder of the way the team rose to the challenges we put before them and the compliments we received from opposing coaches and fans regarding the class, character and competitiveness that these kids played with,” Service manager Willie Post told me.
“Winning and losing can be determined by a lot of things but respect is earned and these kids made sure to leave everything they had on the field to earn it. As a coaching staff we can ask for anything more than that.”
Service led 2-0 after the top of the first inning and 3-2 after the top of the third inning. However, each time the Wood River Wranglers answered in the bottom half and took the lead for good with a three-run third inning that made it 5-3.
Service had scoring chances in the fourth and fifth inning, but grounded into double plays in both frames.
The Wood River Wranglers took a 6-3 lead in the fourth and then the game was scoreless in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
In the eighth, Idaho put the game away with a four-run frame.
Service finished 24-13 on the season, winning five games in state and regional competition.
“It’s not what you do in June but how you finish in July and August,” Paul said. “I think our guys took that to heart and when crunch time came they buckled down and grinded through every pitch never giving in. They proved they had the drive and determination with each of those postseason games.”
The Laurel Post 123 Dodgers took advantage of home field and starting pitcher Carson West on Saturday.
West pitched all seven innings as host team beat the Service Post 28 Cougars 10-0 on Day 2 of the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament in Montana.
West threw a 3-hitter with nine strikeouts. Seven days ago, he threw 120 pitches over nine innings in a 5-4 win that moved Laurel into the state championship game.
Service [24-12] drops into the loser's bracket and will play an elimination game Sunday.
Slugger Billy Smith and pitcher Christian Cambridge led Chugiak Post 33 to the ALB Legion A state tournament title.
Chugiak delivered a 12-3 victory over Kenai Post 20 in the championship game at Bartlett High School.
The teams came into the title game as the top two seeds - Kenai No. 1, Chugiak No. 2.
Smith had the hot bat, going 2-for-4 with a walk, two doubles and six RBIs.
Cambridge flirted with a complete game, going 6.1 innings and giving up only one earned run.
“The win was a great team victory, with contributions by all,” Chugiak coach Bill Smith told me.
Chugiak finished 17-7 and was the only team in Alaska to beat Kenai this year. The Twins won 28 of 30 games, with both losses coming to Chugiak.
The Mustangs also won 5-2 in the title game of the Chugiak Wood Bat Invitational in early July.
“Coaches Mike Gullett, Steve Hall and I are really proud of the way the boys fought all season,” Smith said.
Not even a ninth-inning nightmare could derail the Service Post 28 Cougars on Friday.
Service blew a five-run lead in the bottom of the ninth only to get things back on track and eventually score in the 11th inning to beat Grantsville, Utah, 11-10 on Day 1 of the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament in Laurel, Montana.
It was the sixth consecutive game decided by two runs or fewer for the Cougars, who are 5-1 during that stretch.
“I think as a team we have bonded a lot later in the year,” Service’s Nick Hall told me. “At the beginning of the season when we’d get down we’d get our heads down, but we definitely kept our heads up today and things continue to go well.”
Michael Yandell scored the winning run after he singled with two outs, stole second and raced home when Ronan Klancher’s grounder went through the legs of the Grantsville second baseman.
Service pitcher Cobey Cupp threw the final three innings to earn the win, improving the ALB state tournament runner-up Cougars to 24-11 on the season.
Grantsville first baseman Riley Jensen earned player-of-the-game honors after hitting two home runs and driving in six runs. He clubbed a grand slam to tie the game in the ninth inning.
Service starter Nick Hall pitched the first eight innings and entered the ninth with a 10-5 lead, but he was removed after issuing a leadoff walk.
Enter ace reliever Raleigh Pigg, who was lights out during last week’s state tournament but struggled on this day to find his rhythm. He walked two batters and hit another, helping Grantsville pull closer at 10-6.
Cupp replaced Pigg and immediately faced Jensen, who crushed a grand slam to tie the game 10-10. However, Cupp bounced back to get out of the inning and force extra innings.
“Giving up that home run, it did suck – a lot – but I just kept pitching. I didn’t think about it,” Cupp told me. “I either pitch and win or pitch and lose, but I gotta pitch either way. I tried to focus on that.”
Cupp faced Jensen again in the 11th inning, nursing a one-run lead. This time he struck him out on a four-pitch sequence of nothing but curveballs.
“It was nasty,” Cupp said of his curve. “I surprised myself honestly. My arm felt good.”
Service banged out 16 hits, with Pigg getting five of them. Cupp reached base four times on a single, double and two walks. Pigg and Hall combined for five RBIs.
The Kenai Post 20 Twins outhit the Cheyenne Post 6 Sixers but it wasn't enough to prevent an 11-4 loss in an elimination game at the Legion AAA Northwest Regional Tournament in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
The host team scored in each inning it batted, taking advantage of 10 walks.
Kenai outhit the Sixers 9-6, with Josh Darrow and Kenny Griffin each going 2-for-5.
Griffin's two-out RBI single in the top of the first inning gave the Twins an early 1-0 lead.
Mathew Daugherty gave Kenai a 2-1 lead when he singled, stole second base, went to third on a passed ball and scored on an error.
In the sixth inning, Gavin Petterson had an RBI single to score Calvin Hills.
Kenai's fourth run came in the ninth inning when Cody Quelland singled and later scored on an error.
The ALB Legion AA state champion Twins finished the season 32-10.
“What a great season and pleasure to be part of such fine young men,” Kenai coach Robb Quelland told me. “Many individual accolades but definitely a team game and a concept from the beginning.”
In addition to Kenai's sucess in Legion AA, the Twins also made the Legion A state tournament championship game.
“Ready for next year and building on the future and progress of the program,” Quelland said.
The coach also credited longtime Post manager Lance Coz, who has been with the Twins program for 40 years.
“He’s the backbone of the program,” Quelland said.
The Kennewick Outlaws of Washington scored early and often en route to a 16-2 victory over the Kenai Post 20 Twins on Wednesday.
The game came in the first round of the American Legion AAA Northwest Regional Tournament in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Kennewick banged out 16 hits but Kenai didn't help itself with seven errors.
Twins starter Joe Becher scattered seven hits and three walks over four innings of work. Only five of the 11 runs surrendered were earned.
Kennewick led 5-0 after three innings and then plated three more in the fourth and five in the fifth. It was 13-0 before Kenai got on the board.
The Twins won the Alaska Legion AA state championship, beating Service Post 28 in the title game thriller only four days ago.
Kenai had six base hits - Josh Darrow, Paul Steffenson, Kenny Griffin, Becher, Cody Quelland and J.J. Sonnen.
Sonnen had the team's only extra-base hit with a double.
Calvin Hills and Quelland - coach's kid - delivered the only RBIs for the Twins.
Kenai will face the Idaho/Wyoming loser Thursday at 10:30 ADT in an elimination game.
Legion coaches voted, stats from 18-game league season
Philip Wall Juneau Post 25 4-0 0.69 26 IP 26 K 0.65 WHIP
Nolan Monaghan Wasilla Post 35 3.06 ERA 17.2 IP .194 BBA
Bryce Swafford Juneau Post 25 5-0 0.90 30 IP 38 K 0.63
Sam Hanson Chugiak Post 33 4-0 W/L 1.29 ERA 25.1 IP 25 K .223 BAA
Cody Curfman Chugiak Post 33 2-2 W/L 3.37 ERA 29 IP 25 K .204 BAA
Mathew Daugherty Kenai Post 20 4-0 W/L 1.61 ERA 31/1 IP 30 K .211 BAA
Joe Becher Kenai Post 20 5-1 2.88 ERA 34.1 IP 48 K .123 BAA
Parker Johnson South Post 4 5-0 W/L 1.76 ERA 1 SV 43.2 IP 34 K
Jake Andresen Dimond Post 21 4-1 W/L 3.93 ERA 26 IP 32 K 1.98 WHIP
Nick Hall Service Post 28 4-1 W/L 1.38 ERA 26 IP 16 K 1.04 WHIP
Kaden Roettger Dimond Post 21 12 G 2.93 ERA 2 SV 16 IP 1.93 WHIP
Calvin Hills Kenai Post 20 1-0 W/L 1 SV 2.19 ERA 11.2 IP 12 K 1.80 WHIP
Colin King Fairbanks Post 30
Raleigh Pigg Service Post 28 .375 BA 10 R 10 RBI 9 BB .479 OBP
Matt Hess Chugiak Post 33 .394 BA 1 3B 23 R 13 RBI .650 OBP
Charlie Bucolo Chugiak Post 33 .358 BA 1 HR 22 RBI 20 R .460 OBP
Josh Darrow Kenai Post 20 .522 BA 1 HR 5 3B 31 R 21 RBI .783 SLG
Dylan Montagna Dimond Post 21 .373 BA 18 RBI 12 R 10 BB .602 OBP
Parker Johnson South Post 4 .485 BA 1 HR 26 R 23 RBI .563 OBP
Nolan Monaghan Wasilla Post 35 .333 BA 9 RBI .500 SLG 1.000 FLD
Finn Collins Juneau Post 25 .396 BA 1 HR 18 RBI 26 R 16 SB
Kasey Watts Juneau Post 25 .286 BA 2 HR 22 RBI 7 2B 15 R
Nick Hall Service Post 28 .421 BA 1 3B 23 R 16 RB 10 SB
Vander LeKites Chugiak Post 33 .364 BA 16 R 13 RBI 9 SB .571 OBP
Paul Steffenson Kenai Post 20 .446 1 HR 6 3B 33 R 26 RBI .708 SLG
Calvin Hills Kenai Post 20 .400 BA 4 2B 20 R 16 RBI .520 OBP
Mike Cesar Juneau Post 25 .375 BA 3 3B 17 RBI 23 R .594 OBP
Cody Curfman Chugiak Post 33 .426 BA 1 HR 2 3B 15 RBI 13 R
Julito Fazzini South Post 4 .420 BA 9 2B 16 R 13 RB 13 SB
Jeffrey Forster Wasilla Post 35 .314 BA 2 HR 22 RBI 18 BB .510 SLG
Wyatt Berg Fairbanks Post 30
Cooper Bailey Parsons Service Post 28 .360 BA 12 R 9 RBI .397 OBP
Sladen Mohl South Post 4 .426 BA 1 HR 23 RBI 29 R 10 SB
Starting Pitcher - Koby Burns Wasilla Post 35; Hank Boyer Wasilla Post 35; Shaun Walton Kodiak Post 17; Seth Hinson Bartlett Post 28; Gavin Petterson Kenai Post 20; Jack Carson Ketchikan Post 3; Cooper McLaughlin Palmer Post 15.
Relief Pitcher - Matt Hess Chugiak Post 33; Cody Leslie South Post 4.
Infield - Matt Palmer Wasilla Post 35; Ben Werner Wasilla Post 35; Boyer Wasilla Post 35; Ben Hall Fairbanks Post 30; Bryce Swafford Juneau Post 25; Zeb Storie Juneau Post 25; Sam Hanson Chugiak Post 33; Matthew Daugherty Kenai Post 20; Joe Becher Kenai Post 20; Gavin Petterson Kenai Post 20; Noah King Ketchikan Post 3; Aaron Davis Eagle River; Jared Froslie Eagle River; Seth Hinson Bartlett Post 28; Anthony Maldonado South Post 4; Derek McGinnis South Post 4; Luis Nunez West Post 1; Stanley Nolberto East Post 34; Jake Andresen Dimond Post 21; Kaden Roettger Dimond Post 21; Kyle Henrickson Dimond Post 21; Derek Scoggins Service Post 28; Carl Gatter East Post 34.
Outfield - Koby Burns Wasilla Post 35; Seth Rockenbach Kodiak Post 17; Ronan Klancher Service Post 28; Wyatt Shults Palmer Post 15; Tyler Borschnack Bartlett Post 28.
Utility - Shaun Walton Kodiak Post 17; Bela Armstrong Fairbanks Post 11; London Emerson Fairbanks Post 11; Lauuli Tosi East Post 34.
Catcher - Shawn Sande Ketchikan Post 3.
COACHES OF THE YEAR
Joe Tompkins Juneau Post 25
Rob Quelland Kenai Post 20
Willie Paul Service Post 28
Dan Montagna Dimond Post 21
ALB STATE TOURNAMENT
The Kenai Post 20 Twins scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to secure an 8-7 win over giant killer Service Post 28 on Saturday night at Mulcahy Stadium.
Calvin Hills' wheels provided the winning difference as his speed and heads-up base running set up the winning run.
After he singled with one out, Hills raced from first base to third base on a wild pitch and later scored on a grounder to shortstop in which Service all-star Raleigh Pigg looked Hills back to third before he fired a strike to first baseman Derek Scoggins for the out before Scoggins went home with a throw that was just late.
It was just one of many big plays on the night.
There were others moments like Kenai's Mason Prior making a head-first diving catch and then doubling up the runner on first base and closer Gavin Petterson working around a leadoff walk in the ninth inning before striking out the side to earn the save.
And then there was Scoggins, who drove in a runner from third on a comebacker in which he hustled down the line to beat the throw and tie the game at 7-7.
The No. 2 seeded Twins beat Service twice in the state tournament, including 17-1 on Day 2.
This was the fourth all-time Legion championship for Kenai, the first for head coach Robb Quelland. The team also won in 2012.
In winning the tournament, Kenai will represent the Alaska Legion Baseball at the Northwest Regional Tournament from Aug. 3-7 in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Kenai centerfielder Paul Steffensen was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. He batted .444 in five games and led the tournament with nine RBIs. Half of his eight hits went for extra bases, including an inside-the-park home run.
Service, the No. 6 seed, upset No. 3 South, No. 4 Chugiak, No. 5 Wasilla and No. 1 Juneau on the way to the title game.
Cougars manager Willie Paul guided his program to its first appearance in the state championship game since 2001.
For making the title title, Service earned the right to represent the ALB at the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament [NWCART] on Aug. 4-9 in Laurel, Montana.
In addition to Steffensen being named MVP, other awards included:
Service pitcher Raleigh Pigg won the Top Pitcher Award after going 1-0 and earning a save in his only two appearances. He pitched 10 innings, struck out seven and fashioned a 0.90 ERA.
Wasilla shortstop Matt Palmer had an RBI in all three games while batting .562 with seven total RBIs en route to winning the tournament's Big Stick Award.
Juneau shortstop Zeb Storie gobbled up groundballs like a vacuum, converting all 29 total defensive chances over the tournament, to win the Gold Glove Award.
Service 8, Juneau 6
Earlier in the day, the Cougars platd four runs over the eighth and ninth innings to knock out the Juneau Post 25 Midnight Suns in a knockout game.
It was Service's third consecutive win in an elimination game.
Cooper Bailey Parsons drove in three runs, Nick Hall had three hits and Carsen Sandau had two RBIs.
Relief pitchers Hall and Pigg combined to pitch the winal 6.2 innings.
Juneau's Bryce Swofford went 3=for-5 and Finn Collins and Stories each had two RBIs.
Fairbanks Wild 6, East 4
Evan Wilken and Ben Hall combined on a four-hitter to lift Fairbanks Post 30 over the Post 34 T-birds in the tournament championship game.
Wilken pitched the first five innings to college the win and Hall shut the door with two innings of scoreless relief for the save.
Axel Keeton scored two of his team's six runs. The Wild won despite having fewer hits than the T-birds.
East's Brian Sosa pitched all six innings for East. Standley Nolberto went 2-for-4 and scored a run.
ALB STATE TOURNAMENT
Juneau 7, Kenai 1
Philip Wall carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning en route to pitching a complete game as the Post 25 Midnight Suns handed the Post 20 Twins their first loss at the state tournament.
Top-seeded Juneau scored twice in the first, second and fourth innings to take control.
It was plenty of support for Wall. He tossed a three-hitter with four walks and six strikeouts.
Juneau banged out 13 hits, two each from Donavin McCurley, Zeb Storie, Quin Gist, Kasey Watts and Hall.
Storie had two RBIs and McCurley scored twice.
Kenai's Tyler Covey broke up Hall's no-no with a infield single to leadoff the eighth inning. Paul Steffensen's run-scoring base hit broke up the shutout in the ninth inning.
No. 2 seed Kenai entered the game as the lone tournament unbeaten, assuring itself in Saturday's title game.
Juneau will play Service Post 28 - a 5-4 winner over Wasilla Post 35 - at 3 p.m., with the winner facing Kenai at 6:30 for the state championship.
The Alaska state champion qualifies for the Northwest Regional Tournament on Aug. 3-7 in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
The second place team travels to Laurel, Montana, for the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament [NWCART] on Aug. 4-9.
Service 5, Wasilla 4
Derek Scoggins laced a double to score Cooper Bailey Parsons with the winning run in the 10th inning in an elimination game.
Scoggins finished with three hits and three RBIs on the day as the No. 6-seeded Cougars won their second loser-out game bya 5-4 score in as many days.
Nick Hall had two hits, including a double, and scored twice. Ronan Klancher doubled and had an RBI.
Hall picked up the win in relief of Ben Clayton and Cobey Cupp.
Wasilla rallied from deficits of 3-0 and 4-3.
Ben Werner drove in two runs and Matt Palmer tripled and added an RBI.
Wasilla's Sam Loyer pitched eight innings in earning a no-decision.
Fairbanks Wild 14, Eagle River 6
Wyatt Berg and Colin King tripled to highlight a 10-hit attack as Post 30 scored in all six innings the team batted.
Ben Hall had two hits and drove in three runs. Hunter Andrews scored three times, had two hits and added an RBI.
Eagle River's Ryan Gray went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
East 10, Palmer 7
Gaten Davis went 4-for-4 at the plate and pitched the final two innings to earn the save to headline Post 34's win.
Carl Gatter went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. Other East runs were driven in by Laauli Tosi, Davis, Logan Herman and Brian Sosa.
Palmer's Francisco had three RBIs for the Pioneers.
1 - Next Page
Northwest Regional Tournament
2016 Alaska Legion Baseball
|x-Kenai Post 20||66||16-2|
|x-South Post 4||63||15-3|
|x-Wasilla Post 35||60||14-4|
|y-Dimond Post 21||48||10-8|
|Fairbanks Post 30||45||9-9|
|Fairbanks Post 11||33||5-13|
|West Post 1||27||3-15|
|Palmer Post 15||22||2-16|
|x-Juneau Post 25||69||17-1|
|x-Chugiak Post 33||60||14-4|
|x-Service Post 28||54||12-6|
|y-Ketchikan Post 3||45||9-9|
|East Post 34||42||8-10|
|Bartlett Post 29||22||2-16|
|Kodiak Post 17||20||1-17|
Points: 4 Win 2 Tie 1 Loss 0 Forfeit
Each ALB team plays 18 league games [Top 8 to State Tournament; qualifying based on top three teams from each division plus two wildcard teams with most points. Bottom 8 to Mason Invitational]
x-automatic state qualifier
y-wildcard state qualifier
2016 Alaska Legion Championship Game
American Legion 2015 Highlights
SE 2015 Tournament Highlights
Past ALB AA Seasons
|(X) Chugiak Post 33||69||17-1|
|Juneau Post 25||66||16-2|
|South Post 4||54||12-6|
|Dimond Post 21||51||11-7|
|Valley Post 35/15||51||11-7|
|Kenai Post 20||51||11-7|
|Fairbanks Post 11||51||11-7|
|Fairbanks Post 30||48||10-8|
|Service Post 28||45||9-9|
|Kodiak Post 17||45||9-9|
|Ketchikan Post 3||39||7-11|
|West Post 1||27||3-15|
|East Post 34||24||2-16|
|Barlett Post 29||23||2-16|
(X) = State Champion
|Wasilla Post 35||63||15-3|
|Service Post 28||57||13-5|
|Dimond Post 21||54||12-6|
|Juneau Post 25||51||11-7|
|(X) South Post 4||48||10-8|
|Ketchikan Post 3||39||7-11|
|East Post 34||33||5-13|
|West Post 1||06||0-18|
National Division Standings
|Chugiak Post 33||57||13-5|
|Kenai Post 20||54||12-6|
|Kodiak Post 17||48||10-8|
|Fairbanks Post 30||45||9-9|
|Bartlett Post 29||42||8-10|
|Fairbanks Post 11||32||5-13|
|Palmer Post 15||21||1-17|
(X) = State Champion
|Wasilla Post 35||76||18-4|
|Juneau Post 25||73||17-5|
|South Post 4||70||16-6|
|(X) Chugiak Post 33||65||14-7-1|
|Dimond Post 21||59||12-9-1|
|Service Post 28||55||11-11|
|Kenai Post 20||55||11-11|
|Bartlett Post 29||46||8-14|
|Fairbanks Post 30/11||46||8-14|
(X) = State Champion
|(X) Kenai Post 20||71||17-3|
|South Post 4||62||14-6|
|Wasilla Post 35||59||13-7|
|Dimond Post 21||59||13-7|
|Fairbanks Post 11||59||13-7|
|Chugiak Post 33||52||11-9|
|Service Post 28||50||10-10|
|East Post 34||35||5-15|
|Bartlett Post 29||32||4-16|
|West Post 1||26||2-18|
(X) = State Champion