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Iconic, influential Alaska coach Tony Wylie passes away

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Nov 15, 2022

Tony Wylie, an iconic Alaska baseball coach who later become the state’s most influential scout, passed away over the weekend. He was 65.

The Anchorage native impacted virtually every elite baseball player from the state over the last 20 years as a coach at the high school and Legion levels and through his work at the Alaska Baseball Academy.

His fingerprints are on a dozen MLB draft picks, a record-tying four straight Legion state titles and a legacy of helping more than 100 players bridge the gap between the Last Frontier and the Lower 48.

“Tony affected my career in a profound and wholly positive way,” said 2017 San Diego Padres draft pick Jonny Homza of Anchorage. “He gave me, my brother and many others the opportunity to continue playing the game we love and opened doors for us that very likely wouldn’t have been opened otherwise. In fact, there’s no way I would be playing professional baseball today if it weren’t for Tony. His love for the game and dedication to his players will continue to be an inspiration to me and the entire Alaska baseball community.”

Wylie’s passing rocked the Alaska baseball community, hitting former players especially hard.

“Coach Wylie was basically a second father figure to me,” said two-time MLB draft pick Chad Nading of Anchorage. “He took interest in me as a 12-year-old kid and never left my side up until the day he passed away. Him and his family spent almost every Christmas Eve at our house for family dinner and gift exchange. Tony and my dad Curt became best of friends and so did my mom Dena and Sue. He was so much more than a coach to me and my family.”

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Wylie was a MLB draft pick in 1975, selected by the New York Mets in the 26th round out of Salinas High in California. He played two seasons of rookie ball as a teenager, splitting time between the outfield and first base.

He turned his focus to coaching and eventually made his way to Alaska.

Wylie coached at East High from 1999 to 2006, leading the T-birds to an ASAA state title in 2000 and winning 75 of 95 career games for a .789 winning percentage, which ranks No. 2 all-time in the 30-year history of the Cook Inlet Conference.

In Legion, his East Post 34 teams featured some of Alaska’s greatest players and produced a historic run between 2003 and 2006 by winning four consecutive state championships to match West Post 1's record set from 1965 to 1968.

From 2000 to 2006, East posted a 25-10 record at the state tournament and advanced to five straight title games. His 2003 team beat Whitefish (MT) 9-6 at the Legion Northwest Regional.

“Coach Wylie leaves a baseball legacy in Alaska that is hard to match,” said Ken Wooster, a former coach and current umpire. “But more importantly, he positively impacted hundreds of young people during his career. He will be greatly missed.”

Emerging from those East teams were MLB draft picks Juan Buck (2004), Corey Madden (2006), Anton Maxwell (2007) and Nading (2006, 2009).

Maxwell went on to play at Oregon State and then Single-A. Nading played at UNLV and then Double-A. Madden advanced to Triple-A after playing at St. Mary's.

“Tony was the reason I was able to get exposure at the right time,” Nading said. “He put me in every situation to be successful and that allowed me to play at the highest levels of baseball.”

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In 2003, Wylie created the Alaska Baseball Academy and used his national connections to get Alaskans in front of pro and college scouts. He served as a regional scout for the Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks.

He helped Scooter Bynum of Fairbanks get noticed, dipping into his own pocket to pay for travel expenses.

“Coach Wylie was the guy who put me in front of the right people, which ultimately ended up with me getting scholarship offers at every level and drafted,” said Bynum, a 2014 Cincinnati Reds draft pick. “He took me down to Arizona and put me in front of scouts and college coaches who didn’t even know who I was.”

Wylie’s reach extended four decades, stretching from the end of the 1990s to the beginning of the 2020s.

This year’s Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year Curtis Hebert is now at the University of Portland and credited Wylie for putting him in position to be seen.

“Tony had a huge impact on my career and so many other Alaskan baseball players,” said Hebert, who played for Wylie's travel ball team for five years. "He’s taken me on so many trips where I was able to get the exposure that helped me get to places, I’ve been able to go. Those trips have so many amazing memories to me and it’s all thanks to Tony.”

It’s hard to imagine the Alaska baseball landscape without Wylie. He was a staple at the fields. He knew everybody, and everyone knew him.

His towering shadow will always loom large over Alaska.

“Coach Wylie was the most passionate person I’ve ever met,” Nading said. “He was a proud husband, an unbelievable father and grandfather, diehard Raiders fan, but most of all coaches for kids all over the state of Alaska. He spent so much time scouting and calling parents. All he wanted was to see Alaska baseball players and their families find opportunities to advance their lives on and off the field.”

From regional wins to records, 2022 was a hit for Alaska

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Oct 26, 2022

If it wasn’t the Eagle River and Service Legion teams racking up regional victories, it was Paul Steffensen breaking the state’s all-time college hits record.

Or Brody Jesse getting drafted by the Reds.

Or Jonny Homza coming back from a broken neck for the Padres.

Or Bartlett making its first appearance at the Legion State Tournament since 2013 and winning two games for the first time since 2007.

Add it up and it was a historic year for Alaska baseball players.

Let’s start with the Legion regional tournaments, which saw Eagle River beat Fort Collins (CO) 3-2 at the Northwest Regional in Wyoming and Service defeat Vernal (UT) 7-0 at the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament in Utah.

Never before since the state starting sending teams to both tournaments in 1998 had two different Legion teams from Alaska won a game at two different regionals.

Eagle River’s win was capped by Dalton Smith’s walk-off single – Alaska’s first walk-off win at the Northwest Regional since 1998 when Chugiak beat Missoula (MT) 4-3.

ALASKA REGIONAL WINS SINCE 1986*
1986 – Dimond W 2-1 Idaho Falls (ID)
1996 – Chugiak W 17-7 Casper (WY)
1997 – Service W 7-3 Boise (ID)
1998 – Chugiak W 4-3 Missoula (MT)
2001 – Service W 8-3 Sheridan (WY)
2003 – East W 9-6 Whitefish (MT)
2009 – South W 5-4 Cheyenne (WY)
2018 – Juneau W 13-9 Missoula (MT)
2022 – Eagle River W 3-2 Fort Collins (CO)
*If you have info on wins before 1986, please contact me alaskasportshall@yahoo.com

In 1998, the Mustangs scored the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning after Eric Rogers scored from second base on Mike Warren’s fielder’s choice. Future MLB draft pick Joey Clark threw a 9-inning complete game and picked up the win despite eight walks.

At this year’s NWCART, Service starter Jake Rafferty and relievers Michael Sculley and Rilan Nicali spun the first shutout by an Alaska team at a regional tournament since Juneau in 2014 when Nathan Klein went all seven innings in the same tournament.

In April, Steffensen became Alaska’s college hits leader when the Kenai slugger smacked his 231st hit in a game for Saint Cloud State University.

Steffensen passed Scooter Bynum of Fairbanks for the top spot. Bynum had held the title since 2018.

HITS LEADERS FOR COLLEGE PLAYERS FROM ALASKA
251 – Paul Steffensen, St. Cloud State/Tennessee Tech/Mesa 2018-2022
230 – Scooter Bynum, Northern Illinois/Arizona Western 2015-2018
228 – Rob Conway, Iowa State/Mendocino 1998-2001
212 – Pat Floyd, Pacific/Southwestern 1987-1991
202 – Lance Ibesate, Jamestown/ Shasta 2013-2016

In May, Anchorage’s Parker Johnson was named Second Team All-GNAC – the first player from Alaska to earn all-conference honors in a league that dates back two decades.

Johnson tied for the league lead with eight wins and one shutout, ranked third with two complete games and fifth with a 3.86 ERA.

He threw a 9-inning complete game, scattering seven hits and striking out three in a 7-2 win over Montana State Billings that propelled the Wolves into the GNAC Tournament title game.

In June, Curtis Hebert pitched a 4-hit shutout and the South High Wolverines capped a 26-0 season with a 6-0 victory over Sitka in the championship game of the ASAA Division I state tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

With the win, South pushed its state-record winning streak to 44 games and secured the Cook Inlet Conference team’s second straight championship and fifth in school history.

Hebert was also named Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year and signed with the University of Portland.

In July, Jessee was selected by the Cincinnati Reds with the 303rd overall pick, making him the eighth-highest Alaskan among the 38 players from the state to be taken in the MLB Draft.

The 21-year-old rocket right-hander out of Gonzaga University made 18 appearances on a 37-19 team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The 6-foot-4 reliever furnished a 4.58 ERA in 35.1 innings with 48 strikeouts to 19 walks.

He racked up a career-high 10 strikeouts in four frames against Pepperdine to become the first Alaskan to record double-digit Ks against a NCAA Division I opponent since Sitka’s Matt Way of Washington State had 12 against Washington in 2009.

TOP 10 MLB DRAFT PICKS FROM ALASKA
2000 – Brian Montalbo P Anchorage 130/4 Atlanta Braves
2017 – Jonny Homza C / 3B Anchorage 138/5 San Diego Padres
1994 – Trajan Langdon 3B Anchorage 150/6 San Diego Padres
2009 – Matt Way P Sitka 167/5 Philadelphia Phillies
2012 – Dylan Baker P Juneau 173/5 Cleveland Indians
2001 – Chad Bentz P Juneau 202/7 Montreal Expos
2011 – Kellen Moen P Juneau 216/7 Kansas City Royals
2022 – Brody Jessee P Anchorage 303/10 Cincinnati Reds
1998 – Dustin Krug P Kodiak 316/11 Chicago Cubs
1990 – Marshall Boze P Soldotna 331/12 Milwaukee Brewers

In August, ten months after breaking his neck in a mountain bike crash, Homza made a valiant return to the baseball field.

He smoked a ground-run double in his first at-bat in his season debut as the fifth-year professional in the San Diego Padres organization began a rehab assignment in the rookie-level Arizona Complex League.

Homza started at designated hitter and batted cleanup, going 1-for-1 and reaching base in each of his two plate appearances.

Homza crashed on his bike last October on a Hillside trail in Anchorage when he flipped over the handle bars, landed on his head and cracked his neck. Even though he was wearing a helmet and walked away from the crash, he learned the next day that he had suffered a cervical fracture and needed surgery.

The 23-year-old was back on the field a few months later and a few months after that he played in his first game since Sept. 19, 2021.

MS baseball gets into swing with Saturday's Jamboree

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Sep 1, 2022

Here is the schedule for Saturday's Jamboree:jamboree 2022.jpg

 

Jessee settles into life with Cincinnati Reds' rookie team

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 30, 2022

Now that he’s in Arizona with the Cincinnati Reds rookie-ball team, Brody Jessee of Anchorage has met a ton of people. They all seem to have the same reaction when he tells them where he’s from.

“They have never met a baseball player from Alaska,” he said.

Jessee, 21, takes it to heart because he takes great pride in representing an entire state whenever he takes the field.

“It’s something that puts a chip on my shoulder and allows me to compete with an army behind me,” he said. “Knowing that I’m playing for not just myself, but for my family, friends, teammates, coaches and an entire state allows me to never allow something to get in the way of reaching the big leagues.”

Last month, Jessee was drafted in the tenth round by the Reds to became the highest drafted Alaska pitcher since 2012, when Juneau’s Dylan Baker was taken in the fifth round by Cleveland.

In three short years, Jessee has advanced from the Cook Inlet Conference to the West Coast Conference to the Arizona Complex League. He has maintained familiarity along the way by following a routine, which hardens his emotions.

However, catching a glimpse of yourself wearing the famed uniform of an MLB organization can soften even a 6-foot-4 rocket right-hander with laser focus.

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“When I take a step back and look in the mirror with a Reds jersey on it is sort of surreal to think about how bad I’ve wanted this exact moment since I was 4 or 5 years old,” Jessee said. “But at the end of the day, when the jersey goes on and I have to execute my pitches. That’s all that’s on my mind.”

In the pros, it’s all business. All the time.

Jessee made his debut with the ACL Reds two weeks ago, coming out of the bullpen and facing three batters. He retired the first hitter, plunked the second (who was erased on a caught stealing) and walked the third batter.

“It was a little shaky,” he said, “but I haven’t given up any runs in the following four innings.”

Jessee recently made his first appearance in the playoffs and threw scoreless frames over the ninth and tenth innings.

“It was thrilling to still be in that sort of high-pressure closer role, and to put up two zeroes also made that a really fond experience for me,” he said.

At Gonzaga, the All-WCC reliever posted a 7-3 record with five saves across 35 appearances in relief. He furnished a 4.71 career ERA over 63.1 innings and an 85-38 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

The biggest difference he’s noticed between the pro and college ranks is the willingness of pro hitters to swing at a lot more pitches.

“In college, there is a general approach preached by the head coach that is usually about battling with two strikes and looking for the ball away,” Jessee said. “However, at the professional level, it seems as though most hitters are just trying to crush the ball at any chance they get.

“And they can do that and still foul off a pitch they get surprised by because they are so talented. So, it’s been really fun learning how to adjust to a free-swinging line-up and start becoming a pitcher instead of a thrower.”

Service loses on 9-8 walk-off to Ridgeline (UT) at NWCART

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 7, 2022

For the second time in the four postseason games, Service Post 28 battled back from a three-run deficit only to lose on a walk-off.

It happened at the Alaska Legion AA State Tournament title game and it happened again in an elimination game at the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament.

Baseball can be cruel sometimes.

The Ridgeline Wolverines of Millville, Utah, beat Service 9-8 on Hayden Hansen’s one-out single through the hole on the left side to plate Tyson Smith.

Smith led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and advanced to second base on a sac bunt before scoring the winning run.

It was a roller-coaster game that saw the Cougars take a 5-0 lead after the top of the first only to find themselves down 8-5 after four innings.

Meanwhile, poor fielding cost the Cougars for the second straight night as Service allowed unearned runs in each of the second, third and fourth innings.

Service (23-13) also suffered from some bad luck – at the plate and in the field.

Hunter Christian was robbed of a two-out RBI after his hard grounder up the middle deflected off the pitcher’s glove and took a room-service hop to the shortstop, who stepped on the bag for a force out.

Later, second baseman Sean Giffen slipped on the bag taking the feed from the shortstop to deny a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play.

Meanwhile, Service pitchers hung tough.

Reliever Kolby Jensen got out of the third inning after stranding a runner in scoring position. In the fourth, Jensen struck out Cooper Clark – snapping his staff’s streak of 31 plate appearances without a strikeout dating back to last night’s 13-11 loss to Butte (MT).

Christian, who took over for Jensen, wiggled out of bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fifth to keep it an 8-5 game. It was premier postseason pitching performance that seemed to ignite the Cougars.

They needed a boost against Ridgeline reliever Mason Williams, who hadn’t allowed a run in his four innings of work before Service touched him up for a three spot in the fifth.

Owen Hickman and Jensen banged out back-to-back base hits to set up Sebastian Fournier, who smacked a line drive into the right-centerfield gap for a two-run triple.

Fournier – who led Service with seven RBIs in three NWCART games – scored on a wild pitch with one out to tie the game at 8.

Christian worked a 1-2-3 sixth inning, thanks to center fielder Carson Maltby’s marvelous running catch right at the fence and a terrific 12-to-6 curveball that caught Williams looking on strike three.

In the end, though, Ridgeline (30-2) made a few more plays to survive and advance.

Two Wolverines' relievers combined to retire the final nine batters in order, with Williams doing most of the heavy lifting after coming in relief after the first five Service batters reached base (and scored) in the first inning.

Fournier finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs, Jake Rafferty was 1-for-3 with two RBIs and Giffen went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Service finished the tournament with a 1-2 record, moving Alaska teams to 11-29 against Lower 48 competition at the NWCART since 2011.

Eagle River wins Legion A state championship

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 7, 2022

Tommy Molloy pitched six strong innings and helped Eagle River stretch its lead late with three RBIs to catapult the Wolves to an 8-1 victory over Chugiak Post 33 in the championship game of the Alaska Airlines Legion A State Tournament on Sunday at Bartlett High School.

Second baseman Cody Patraglia also picked up three RBIs and two of his team’s 10 hits – all singles – as the Wolves matched their AA counterparts for a sweep of Alaska’s 2022 American Legion state titles.

Bodi Anderson’s RBI groundout put Eagle River ahead 1-0 in the top of the second inning, and the Wolves took control with a three-run third frame. After Jack Mullen was hit by a pitch, Kam Kurtz and Ty Griffin followed with line-drive singles to push Mullen home, and Patraglia made it 4-0 with a line-drive single to right-center.

Staked to a comfortable advantage, Molloy did the rest with his right arm. After giving up a long double to Kyle McEwen on his first pitch of the day, the lanky starter settled down and faced the minimum 12 Mustangs through the fourth inning, getting help from catcher Jack Mullen when he threw out Samson Young attempting to steal in the second.

A two-run single by Molloy increased the lead to 6-0 in the top of the sixth, and he raced around to score from second base moments later on Petaglia’s infield-single smash off the hip of reliever RJ Remy.

Chugiak plated its lone run in the sixth when Weston Gracey raced home from second base on another ball that never left the infield. The Mustangs would then load the bases with none out, but Molloy escaped with two ground-ball forces at the plate, and an inning-ending strikeout of Remy.

Chugiak finished with four hits, including doubles by McEwen and Ethan Atkinson.

Molloy posted four strikeouts and was one of four Wolves to reach base three times, along with Anderson, Mullen and Griffin.

This was Eagle River's fourth straight appearance in the title game, winning in 2019, 2020 and this year.

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Butte (MT) hits 3 bombs, holds off Service 13-11 in Utah

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 6, 2022

The Butte Miners of Montana brought some thunder and lightning to the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament.

Butte bashed three home runs off three different Service Post 28 pitchers to build a big lead before hanging on for a 13-11 victory over the Cougars in a winner’s bracket game in Vernal, Utah.

Zach Tierney hit two home runs and Cayde Stajcar smacked another one as part of a 12-hit attack for the Miners (42-9), who moved to 2-0 in the tournament.

Tierney and Stajcar hit back-to-back jacks in the fourth inning as the Montana state champion built a 12-7 advantage.

The Cougars shot themselves in the foot with six errors – including five in one inning – yet they still found themselves in position to win the game at the end.

Service (23-12) scored two runs in the seventh inning and had the tying run in scoring position before the game ended on a pop up with the bases loaded. A common thread as the Alaska team left 11 runners on base.

Hunter Christian also hit a home run – one of four in the game – in a 10-hit attack. He launched a laser to left field over the 18-foot-tall fence.

The dimensions of the high school field are 330 feet down the lines and 380 to straightaway center field, although the altitude and 89-degree weather helped the ball fly out of the yard.

Vernal has an elevation of 5,328 feet. By comparison, Anchorage is at sea level.

Tierney’s first home run would have been out of any park in the country and might have hit the building across the street. The mammoth shot to left field gave Butte a 6-5 lead the Miners would never relinquish.

The third inning was a nightmare for the Cougars, as three players combined for five errors. When the dust settled, Butte had turned game upside down, turning a 5-2 deficit into a 9-5 advantage.

Credit Christian for immediately helping Service get that bad taste out of its mouth after he crushed a solo home run to lead off the fourth inning. Owen Hickman’s RBI single five batters later pulled the Cougars with 9-7, and suddenly we had a game again.

But then the Miners responded with another crooked number, thanks to back-to-back bombs to center field that might have been flyouts at Mulcahy Stadium.

Christian turned an 4-3 double play behind reliever Michael Sculley in the fifth inning that helped Service enjoy its lone 1-2-3 frame.

The Cougars pulled within 12-9 in the sixth inning on Sebastian Fournier’s two-out infield single. He hustled all the way down the line, signaling Service’s willingness to stay in the fight.

In the seventh, Sean Giffen and Hickman delivered RBIs to pull Service within 13-11, and Kolby Jensen reached base on a seven-pitch walk against two different relief pitchers to make things interesting at the end.

With two runners on, Jensen faced a 1-2 count when Butte made a move to the bullpen and called on closer George Riojas.

Riojas’ first pitch was a curveball that didn’t break and nearly hit Jensen’s helmet, but he kept his head and earned a base on balls to keep the line moving.

The game lasted nearly three hours.

Service is back at it Sunday in an elimination game against Ridgeline (UT) at 2 p.m. ADT.

Legion A State: Eagle River, Chugiak advance to final

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 6, 2022

Alaska Airlines Legion A State Tournament
Semifinal #1
Eagle River 9, Dimond-Gold 8

Brian Choinard drove in a run and later scored the winning run on a wild pitch to highlight his team's three-run rally in the seventh inning as the Wolves advanced to the title game for the fourth straight year.
Dimond scored six runs over the final two innings and took a 7-6 lead when Josiah James scored on a wild pitch and went ahead 8-6 on Gideon Lesslie's sac fly.
Eagle River will face the Chugiak/Kenai winner in Sunday's state title game at 2 p.m. at Bartlett High School.

Semifinal #2
Chugiak 4, Kenai 3 (8)

Caiden Capozzi drove in Ethan Atkinson with the winning run in the eighth inning thanks to a one-out bloop single to shallow right field over a drawn-in infield to send the Mustangs to the title game.
Capozzi also had an RBI as part of a three-run bottom of the fourth when Chugiak tied it at 3.
Kenai struck for three runs in the third keyed by Brett Hostetler, whose drove in run with a bunt single and later scored the third run on a wild pitch.
Chugiak will face Eagle River in Sunday's title game at 2 p.m. at Bartlett High School.

NWCART: Service beats Vernal (UT) 7-0 in tourney opener

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 5, 2022

Jake Rafferty threw 5.2 scoreless innings and teamed with two relievers for a combined shutout as Service Post 28 beat host Vernal 7-0 on Day 1 of the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament in Utah.

Rafferty was special, allowing just two hits and getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth with his final strikeout.

He also picked off a base runner and drove in a run with the bat as the Cougars picked up their first regional tournament win since 2016.

Michael Sculley got the final out in the sixth and Rilan Nicali sealed the deal with a clean seventh.

Service banged out an 11-hit attack, highlighted by RBI triples from Owen Hickman and Carson Maltby, and RBI doubles from Sean Giffen and Landon Martindale.

Service moved into the winner’s bracket and will play Butte (MT) on Saturday at 5 p.m. ADT.

The Cougars (23-11) got the party started early, striking for a pair of runs with two outs in the first inning.

Rafferty ripped the first pitch he saw into the hole on the left side and Hickman hammered a triple over the right-fielder’s head for a little oppo taco.

The fast start only motivated Rafferty, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound right-hander who pounded the zone and trusted his defense.

Giffen, the shortstop and team’s elder statesman, had a hand in six of the first eight outs on four assists and two putouts.

Giffen was on the receiving end of Rafferty’s pick off in the second inning and he saved an error by the pitcher in the third inning after stretching to catch an errant throw from Rafferty while using every bit of his 6-foot frame to keep his foot on second base for the force out.

Service struck for a pair of runs in the third on three consecutive hits – a single by Hunter Christian, a triple by Maltby and a double by Giffen.

Maltby’s missile flew over the right-fielder’s head as he pulled it to pull Service ahead 3-0.

In the fourth, Sebastian Fournier was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and scored on Landon Martindale’s double.

By this time in the game, the sun had set and the Cougars were under the lights.

It was showtime for guys like Rafferty and Hickman.

Hickman, a Swiss-army-knife utility player, filled in at catcher for starter Coen Niclai, who didn’t make the trip.

Hickman saved a run in the fifth with a beautiful backhand stab on pitch in the dirt and a runner on third base.

That same inning saw Rafferty wiggle out of the bases-loaded jam with an inning-ended called third strike, thanks to a fastball on the outside of the plate.

Sculley worked around a pair of walks in the sixth and Niclai worked a 1-2-3 frame.

Service’s win was in sharp contrast to how its next opponent advanced, with Butte winning a 15-10 slugfest.

That score was reminiscent to the 11-10 win Service posted over Grantsville (UT) in the 2016 NWCART.

Oregon champs ends Eagle River's run at NW Regional

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 5, 2022

When Dallin Roberts’ eight-pitch at-bat resulted in the go-ahead run scoring for the Eagle River Wolves in the second inning, it was easy to get caught up in the moment.

Was this the year a team from Alaska would finally advance to the final four at the Northwest Regional?

It looked good for a moment, but it didn’t happen.

The mighty Medford Mustangs on Friday used a six-run stampede in the third inning to ride off with a 12-2 win at the regional tournament in Gillette, Wyoming.

Medford (39-8) scored eight runs with two outs and outhit Eagle River 14-6 in seven innings at Hladky Memorial Stadium.

Alaska fell to 0-7 against Medford at the regional.

Eagle River (39-12) got two hits from Liam Lierman and RBIs from Dalton Smith and Roberts.

Roberts, the catcher, also threw out a runner trying to steal second base to end the top of the second inning.

In the bottom of the second, the Wolves scored both of their runs to take a 2-1 lead.

Jack Molloy and Alex Mullen reached. Smith knocked in the first run with an RBI groundout and Roberts added another RBI groundout to give the Wolves an early lead.

It was early, but the Wolves looked hungry to make history.

They loaded the bases in the first inning, plated two runs in the second and loaded the bases again in the third.

Credit Medford pitching for limiting the damage.

The Mustangs were nails with runners on base, ending each of the first three innings with a strikeout as Eagle River stranded six runners.

In the third, Medford strung together five straight hits and seven in all to reclaim the lead, 7-2.

Eagle River had only two batters reach base across the final four frames, and neither lasted long.

Landon Hudson’s walk in the fourth was erased by a 4-6-3 double play and Smith’s double in the sixth was wiped away when he was thrown out at third on a 9-4-5 relay.

Smith shined as a relief pitcher in the sixth, striking out Julius Bolstad in a 12-pitch battle.

Earlier, Eagle River reliever Charlie Wallace allowed just one run over two innings of work.

Yesterday, he earned the win in Eagle River’s 4-3 victory over Fort Collins (CO) – just the seventh win at the regional tournament for an Alaska team since 1986.

The two-time defending state champion Wolves were trying to become the first team from The Last Frontier to win two games.

Medford is Legion royalty.

The Mustangs are 18-time state champions out of Oregon and have qualified for the Legion World Series five times, making the title game twice.

Alaska is one of four states that has never qualified a team to the Legion World Series.

Eagle River becomes 9th AK team to win at NW Regional

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 4, 2022

After an ugly loss on Day 1 and getting no-hit through the first four-plus innings on Day 2, the Eagle River Legion baseball team could have folded like cheap suit.

Instead, the Wolves pieced together a custom-made comeback.

Eagle River scored runs in each of the final three innings to rally for a stunning 3-2 win Thursday over Fort Collins (CO) at the Northwest Regional in Gillette, Wyoming.

With the victory, Eagle River became just the ninth Alaska team to win a game at the regional tournament since 1986.

“We’re so pumped,” right fielder Jack Molloy said. “Out flights have to get changed now, which is totally awesome.”

No Alaska team has won two games at the regional, but the Wolves will have that chance when they play Friday against either Medford (OR) or Billings (MT) at 2 p.m. ADT.

LEGION POSTSEASON
Alaska Wins @ Northwest Regional
1986 – Dimond W 2-1 Idaho Falls (ID)
1996 – Chugiak W 17-7 Casper (WY)
1997 – Service W 7-3 Boise (ID)
1998 – Chugiak W 4-3 Missoula (MT)
2001 – Service W 8-3 Sheridan (WY)
2003 – East W 9-6 Whitefish (MT)
2009 – South W 5-4 Cheyenne (WY)
2018 – Juneau W 13-9 Missoula (MT)
2022 – Eagle River W 3-2 Fort Collins (CO)

Eagle River (29-11) made history with style points, winning on third baseman Dalton Smith’s walk-off base hit.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, eight-hole hitter Molloy mashed a double and came around to score the winning run when nine-hole hitter Smith stroked a single into left center field.

“I was looking for a fastball, looking to drive the ball the other way,” Smith said. “He threw a curveball and I crushed it.”

Smith was angry when he came to the plate with the game on the line.

“My pitch selection my first two at-bats were absolutely horrendous,” he said. “So, I was thinking, ‘Know what to hit in the zone.’ That curveball he threw me was right down the middle. He hung it.”

And Smith hammered it.

This was Eagle River’s first win in eight games against Lower 48 competition this season. The Wolves went 0-5 at a tournament in Eugene (OR) and lost to Napoleon (OH) in the final of the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic at Mulcahy Stadium.

“This is basically the same caliber of teams and some of the same teams actually, and we knew exactly what to expect from the pitching side of things and we weren’t intimidated at all,” Molloy said.

The Wolves lost 10-2 to Cheyenne (WY) in the first game of the NW regional and looked to be headed towards another defeat against Fort Collins, trailing 2-0 as pitcher Brady Hall carried a no-hitter through 4.2 innings.

Reigning Alaska State Tournament MVP Connor Johnson broke up the no-no with a two-out single.

“CJ getting that first hit in the fifth inning was clutch and that got us going,” Molloy said.

Johnson later scored on an error to get the Wolves on the board.

Meanwhile, Eagle River starter Liam Lierman had a solid start, striking out seven in five innings. The southpaw allowed four hits, two runs (one earned) and one walk.

He was replaced by reliever Charlie Wallace, who pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning. In the bottom half of the sixth, Eagle River tied the game 2-2 on a hit-and-run play. With Lierman on second and Noah Lower on first both in motion, Josh Thompson hit an infield single that scored Lierman with the tying run.

In the top of the seventh, Wallace ended the frame with a strikeout and the go-ahead run stranded on third base.

“Charlie did great on the mound. He’s a great closer,” Smith said. “I want to give props to Liam, too. After Liam came out, he was kind of bummed but he got that attitude back and got us back in the game with his energy.”

Eagle River has posted several walk-off wins this season, including a 4-3 number in the state title game. The players – all 12 of them – had a ton of confidence they could do it again.

“We absolutely knew going into the bottom of the seventh, there’s no way Colorado wanted to win as bad as we did,” Molloy said, “and I think that showed in that final inning.”

Eagle River drops 10-2 decision at Northwest Regionals

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 3, 2022

The Eagle River Wolves fell into an early hole and never recovered in a 10-2 loss to Cheyenne (WY) on Day 1 of the Northwest Regional in Gillette, Wyoming.

Cheyenne used five walks, an error, a two-run triple and a two-run single to plate six runs in the bottom of the first inning – all without recording an out.

The only reason the game went seven innings was because of Wolves’ relief pitcher Jack Molloy, who was nothing short of spectacular, especially under the circumstances.

He entered the game in the first with his team trailing 4-1 and the bases loaded with no outs.

Molloy gave up a single to the first batter he faced before striking out the next two batters looking and the next on a grounder to end the 35-minute first frame.

He retired 15 of 18 batters on his way to providing a fabulous five-inning stint. The southpaw allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits and zero walks. He struck out six.

Molloy gave up a run in the second inning on a two-out balk and another in the fourth after the leadoff batter reached on a three-base error and came home on a wild pitch.

Three Eagle River pitchers combined for nine wild pitches and two balks.

Molloy pitched 1-2-3 innings in each of the third and fifth in a 60-pitch performance that deserved praise.

Molloy also went 2-for-2 at the plate and scored a run. Have a day, young man.

Two-time defending state champion Eagle River led 1-0 on Noah Lower’s sac fly three batters into the game.

Dallin Roberts led off with a single, moved to second on Liam Lierman’s sac bunt and went to third on a wild pitch to set up Lower.

In the fourth inning, the Wolves scored against after Molloy singled, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Landon Hudson’s sac fly.

Hudson also drew an eight-pitch at-bat in the seventh inning before getting erased on a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Eagle River dropped to 28-11 overall and fell to 0-7 against Lower 48 competition this season.

The loss snapped the Wolves’ eight-game winning streak.

Cheyenne improved to 65-10 and advanced in the winner’s bracket and will face two-time defending Legion World Series champion Idaho Falls (ID) on Thursday.

Cheyenne’s stats read like a minor-league team.

First baseman Zack Costopoulos drove in his 75th run of the season and has combined for 18 home runs and 165 RBIs in the last two summers.

Eagle River fell into the loser’s bracket and will face Fort Collins (CO) in an elimination game Thursday morning.

Get your coffee ready. First pitch is at 7:30 a.m. Alaska time.

State Tournament Final: Eagle River slips by Service 4-3

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 26, 2022

Connor Johnson felt like he had been put through the ringer by the end of the game.

The Eagle River second baseman had just experienced an emotional roller-coaster after helping the Wolves slip by Service 4-3 in eight innings to win the Alaska Legion State Tournament title game Tuesday at Mulcahy Stadium.

“Oh, man, the feeling is kind of indescribable,” Johnson said. “I don’t know how to feel. I’m exhausted. That was a helluva game.”

Indeed, it was a classic. There were big plays, weird plays, extra innings and two historic players.

It even had a two-out, walk-off ending to give Eagle River (28-10) back-to-back championships, each time coming on one-run victories. Last year it was 1-0 over South on an Orazio Ramos home run. This year it was 4-3 over Service on a Dalton Smith walk.

Eagle River’s Dalton Smith. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon, Alaska Legion

Smith drew a four-pitch base on balls to drive in Noah Lower from third base with the winning run. Lower started the inning with a single and went to second on Josh Thompson’s walk. Both runners advanced on Landon Hudson’s beautiful bunt that went for a base hit.

Service relief pitcher Hunter Christian struck out the next two batters to set up the pivotal at-bat with Smith.

“I think it was even more wild and more stressful and more emotion than anybody can ever imagine,” Johnson said. “The momentum switched sides about 20 million times. They were excited, we were excited. It just makes you super exhausted.”

Lower not only scored the winning run, he went 2-for-3 and earned the winning decision at pitcher with two scoreless innings of relief to earn player-of-the-game honors.

Eagle River’s Noah Lower. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon, Alaska Legion

Lower, the starting shortstop, also earned the tournament’s Gold Glove Award.

He gave Eagle River a 1-0 lead three batters into the game. Johnson made it 3-0 after his two-run double, coming after he had fouled off three straight pitches with two strikes.

Johnson batted .467 in the tournament on 7-of-15 hitting and knocked in 12 RBIs – the most at state in nearly a decade and two shy of the tournament record – to win the MVP Award.

NOTEABLE RBI TOTALS AT STATE TOURNAMENT
14 – Josiah Covey Kenai 2013
13 – Ryan Skillern South 2007
12 – Mike Sauer Kenai 1999
12 – A.J. Hull Kenai 2012
12 – Connor Johnson Eagle River 2022

“I saw the ball well and hit pretty good, so I’m happy,” Johnson said.

He also helped turn a 6-4-3 double play in the fifth inning after making a bare-handed grab at Lower’s feed and throwing on to first base.

But in the sixth, he dropped an easy toss with his glove on a play he’s made a hundred times. His error came with two outs and allowed Service to score and tie the game at 3-3.

“I was baffled. I was like, ‘How do you drop that?’” said Johnson, who beat himself up immediately after the play.

“Then I knew, ‘You gotta pick yourself back up. We’re still in this. It’s tied. We still get to hit. It’s OK.’

“Competing through that adversity,” he said, “that’s what you have to do in that situation.”

Give Service (22-11) a ton of credit, starting with catcher Coen Niclai, who went 3-for-5 with an RBI in the title.

The rising junior threw out three base runners in five tournament games and batted .647 on 11-for-17 hitting with eight RBIs.

Coen’s batting average ranks No. 2 all-time in state tournament history.

HIGHEST BATTING AVERGE AT STATE TOURNAMENT
.818 – John Kennedy Kenai 1979
.647 – Coen Niclai Service 2022
.643 – Dennis Erisman Chugiak 1986

Niclai drove in the Cougars’ first run in the third inning and later Owen Hickman made it 3-2 after he scored on a wild pitch, making a daring run from third base after the ball had only skipped away maybe 20 feet from the catcher. A lot of teams wouldn’t have tried that with two outs.

Later in the third inning, third baseman Jake Rafferty got the Cougars out of a jam when he fielded a grounder and dived head first to get a force out and at third.

In the eighth, the Cougars loaded the bases when Martindale reached on an error, Sean Giffen singled for his 10th hit of the tournament and Rafferty's groundball down the line that actually hit Martindale's body as he reached third base. Because he was standing on the base, it was a base hit. Had he been in the field of play it would have been an out.

Service’s Jake Rafferty. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon, Alaska Legion

Service stayed in the game because of its pitching and defense. The Cougars made only one error and pitchers Landon Martindale, Rilan Niclai and Christian held the Wolves in check most of the game.

Eagle River came into the game hitting .404 as a team but were held off the scoreboard from the second inning through the seventh inning.

Martindale, who earned the save in yesterday’s 8-7 win over Kenai in the semifinals, got the start and bounced back after giving up three runs in the first inning. He threw shutout frames in the second, third and fourth innings and retired nine of 11 batters.

He was replaced by Rilan Niclai, the youngest player to pitch in the tournament. He hasn’t even started high school yet, but he was unfazed by the bright lights of Mulcahy.

The young gun threw three innings of relief, ending each of the fifth and sixth innings with strikeouts. One of those punch outs came on a 3-2 breaking ball, with his older brother catching; you gotta think that moment fulfilled a childhood dream of the brothers teaming up for big strikeout in the state tournament.

Service’s Rilan Niclai. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon, Alaska Legion

“It’s impressive, especially without their No. 1 pitcher, Jake (Rafferty),” Johnson said. “And throwing a Class of 2026 guy in there. That was really impressive. Props to them.”

Eagle River improved to 12-2 in the state tournament under manager Bill Lierman, who earned his eighth Legion state title.

Lierman won three titles as a player at Chugiak – his last coming 25 years ago. He then won three titles as a coach at Chugiak before joining the Eagle River coaching staff in 2020 and leading the Wolves to back-to-back titles.

In 1996, Lierman and Chugiak became one of just six Alaska teams to win a game at the Northwest Regional.

Last year, the Wolves dropped a tough 2-1 loss to Gillette (WY) in the first round en route to an 0-2 showing.

They are going back to Gillette, and they are going to play another Wyoming team in the first round Aug. 5.

“I’m excited to travel with the team and get out there and maybe do a little bit better than we did last year,” Johnson said.

Service will represent Alaska at the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament (NWCART) next week in Vernal, Utah.

Alaska Legion State Tournament Awards
MVP – Connor Johnson, Eagle River
Big Stick – Coen Niclai, Service
Top Pitcher – Hunter Williams, Kenai
Gold Glove – Noah Lower, Eagle River

Matson Invitational: Wasilla beats Ketchikan 7-3 in final

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 26, 2022

Matson Invitational
Title Game
Wasilla 7, Ketchikan 3

The Wasilla Post 35 Road Warriors are still unbeaten in the Matson Invitational.

Wasilla beat Ketchikan Post 3 by a 7-3 score in the tournament championship game at Mulcahy Stadium, improving to 12-0 all-time in the event.

Wasilla's victory clinched the program's third Matson title, joining the ones the Road Warriors won in 2018 and 2021.

Former manager Ken Ottinger led the team to the previous titles - this time, his son Taylon did it. Like father, like son.

Ketchikan was playing in its fourth title game in tournament history.

Wasilla got off to a quick start, going ahead 3-1 in the first inning thanks largely to Karsen Spradling, who knocked in a run and stole home in the frame.

Wasilla tacked on two more runs in the third and two more in the sixth.

It was plenty of support for pitcher Jaren Venie, who went 6.2 innings and was named MVP of the tournament.

Back-to-back errors cost Venie a complete game as he was chased due to the pitch count.

His battery mate Pedro Camacho won the tournament's Gold Glove Award.

Ketchikan's Terik Brown won the Big Stick Award and teammates Chase Hanis was named Top Pitcher.

Was (12-13)
Jaren Venie 6.2IP 0ER 6K
Karsen Spradling 2-4 2RBI 2R 3SB
Colton Haase 2-3 2R 3SB

Alex Bond 1-4 RBI
Dayton Greer RBI

Ket (8-17)
Thomas Kroscavage RBI
Chase Hanis 1-4
Bubba Williams 1-4 R
Colby Hanchey 2R

Alaska Airlines raffle winner: Phil Doherty

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 26, 2022

Phil Doherty was named the raffle winner of four Alaska Airlines vouchers.

The name was drawn on the field at Tuesday's Legion State Tournament championship game.

His son Collin sold him the lucky ticket.

All Alliance Baseball League teams had the chance to participate and raise money toward team and individual fees through the raffle, which began in 2017.

State Tournament: Service, Eagle River advance to final

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 25, 2022

Summoned from the center field to pitch, Landon Martindale stepped into a terrible situation: Two runners on base, no outs, game on the line.

Here you go, kid.

“I was shaking pretty bad,” he said. “It was nerve-racking.”

Showing nerves of steel, the Class of 2025 right-hander closed the door to preserve Service Post 28’s 8-7 victory over the Kenai Post 20 Twins in Monday’s semifinals of the Alaska Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Martindale ended the game on a strikeout with the tying run on third base, ending a white-knuckle ride for the Cougars in the seventh inning.

The 5-foot-2, 110-pounder came up big in a number of ways for Service, which beat Kenai at the state tournament for the first time since 2002, snapping a five-game losing streak.

He started the game in left field and moved to center in the third inning when Carson Maltby left the game with a knee injury and had to be helped off the field.

Two batters later Martindale recorded an outfield assist when he cut down a runner at third base.

Kolby Jensen, a rising junior, filled in for Maltby in the lineup and knocked in a run with a single to right field on his first swing fresh off the bench.

“With our team, there's always another guy who can do whatever the other guy can't,” Martindale said. “That's what's really nice about our team, anybody can step up.”

Martindale’s number was called in the seventh when the relief pitcher recorded a 3-out save in a pressure-cooker situation.

“I’ve been in that position a couple other times in the high school season,” he said. “I just kept telling myself, ‘Gotta get this next pitch.’”

With the win, Service manager Willie Paul has led his team to the state final for the third time since 2016.

The Cougars clawed back from early deficits of 3-0 and 4-1 on the strength of a seven-run fourth inning explosion.

“There's so much pressure and excitement because we're such a young team and we're doing so well,” Martindale said. “I like all the guys and it's fun. Whenever we're doing good or whenever we're doing bad, everybody has such good spirits.”

Sebastian Fournier, Hunter Christian, Jensen and Coen Niclai each had RBIs in the inning, but the big hit was Sean Giffen’s 3-run double.

Giffen, a recent high school graduate, is the elder statesman on the team as its only upperclassman.

Giffen’s double to deep right center field cleared the bases and provided Service with a 7-4 lead.

He roared to his dugout in delight.

“I love Giffen. He’s a great guy,” Martindale said. “That hit really got us going. Everybody was up on the fence, coming out of the dugout to pick up the next guy.”

Later that inning, Jake Rafferty and Niclai banged out back-to-back doubles that scored Service’s final run and proved to be the difference.

Kenai didn’t go away. The Twins pulled within 8-6 on Jacob Belger’s two-run single in the fifth inning and got as close as 8-7 in the seventh on Charlie Chamberlain’s RBI groundball.

Reliever John Brinner was brilliant after a rough start, bouncing back to retire 10 of the final 14 batters to give his team a chance at the end.

Eagle River 9, South 5

In the second semifinal, the Wolves overcame two rain relays and a 3-run deficit in the sixth inning to stun the South Post 4 Wolverines.

Defending state champion Eagle River sent 12 batters to the plate and scored seven runs; btw, this is the second time this team has scored seven runs in the sixth in this tournament.

The bottom of the sixth lasted 34 minutes, including two short separate rain delays.

“I think the rain delays worked in our favor,” said Eagle River slugger Noah Lower.

The Wolves faced three different South pitchers in the sixth and denied ace Isaac Johnson a shot at ending his Legion career with a victory.

The South star pitcher came into the game with a 13-0 career record at Mulcahy Stadium but settled for the no decision after five-plus innings.

Lower, along with Charlie Wallace, Dallin Roberts, Liam Lierman and Josh Thompson, all knocked in runs to give Eagle River a 7-5 lead.

Tournament MVP candidate Connor Johnson put the game out of reach with a two-run single, giving him a tournament-best 10 RBIs.

“Everything went our way tonight,” Lower said.

Eagle River improved to 11-2 at the state tournament under manager Bill Lierman, who joined the coaching staff in 2020.

South looked to be in control, nursing a 4-2 lead entering the sixth inning. The Wolves were down, but not out, and somehow rallied for a stunning postseason win.

“We just want it more,” Johnson said. “Bill pushes us, tells us to grind through it, compete the whole way through and overcome any obstacle that happens.

“Just have that mental capacity to keep competing until the last out.”

This was a rematch of last year’s state title game, won by Eagle River 1-0 on a perfect night for baseball.

This game featured pounding rain and wind gusts, hardly ideal conditions.

“It wasn’t that bad,” Lower said. “When you’re focused, you’re that in the game, nothing is throwing you off.”

Lower’s RBI single in the third inning made it 4-2 before Johnson settled into a groove and retired seven of the next eight batters.

Everything changed in the sixth, however, after Karson Kolberg and Johnson drew back-to-back walks and Alex Mullen was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Then came the rain and the first delay. Then the flood gates opened with seven runs.

Tonight’s game was another classic in the Eagle River-South matchup in what has become the state’s most high-profile rivalry.

“We all know what’s up when we play South. It’s going be a battle,” Lower said.

The way this one ended, he won’t forget about the ‘Monday Night Miracle’ for a long time.

“I don’t think I’m going to sleep tonight,” Lower said.

Matson Invitational: Ketchikan holds off Juneau 12-11

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 25, 2022

Matson Invitational
Semifinal: Ketchikan 12, Juneau 11

Terik Brown closed the door with three innings of relief to help Ketchikan Post 3 beat Southeast rival Juneau Post 25 in a 12-11 extra-inning slugest in the semifinals of the Matson Invitational at Mulcahy Stadium.

Brown also scored three runs, stole four bases, had two base hits and an RBI.

Thomas Kroscavage drove in four runs and Hayden Trudeau knocked in three as Ketchikan (8-16) advanced to Tuesday's championship game against top-seeded Wasilla (11-13).

Ketchikan led 6-0 in the fourth inning and outscored Juneau 4-3 in a wild eighth inning that used the international tiebreaker where each team started the inning with a runner on second base..

Juneau's Oliver Mendoza set a tournament record with a 5-for-5 performance at the plate. He also scored three runs and had two RBIs.

Juneau ended the season 15-13.

Ketchikan (8-16)
Thomas Kroscavage 1-2 3RBI 5IP
Terik Brown 3IP 1-2 2RBI 4SB 3R
Hayden Trudeau 1-2 3RBI
Bubba Williams 2-4 RBI

Juneau (15-13)
Oliver Mendoza 5-5 2RBI
Kasen Ludeman  2-4 2R RBI
Landon Simonson 2-3 3RBI
Olin Rawson 1-4 2R RBI

State Tournament: Kenai, Service win to advance

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 24, 2022

As the new kid in town, Hunter Williams puts a lot of pressure on himself to perform well with the Kenai Post 20 Twins.

Nothing brings players together like success and Williams and the Twins had plenty to celebrate in Sunday’s 11-1 win over Bartlett Post 29 at Mulcahy Stadium.

The Class of 2023 right-hander threw a complete-game gem, recording 21 outs on 85 pitches to secure Kenai a spot in the semifinals of the Alaska Legion State Tournament.

Williams fired a 4-hitter with six strikeouts and faced one over the minimum across the final five innings in a brilliant performance when his team needed it the most.

“Yesterday after we won, I had a feeling I would pitch this game today and when I found out that I was I wanted to make sure I was on point,” Williams said. “I kind of stayed to myself at the beginning of the game. I wanted to be active but I also wanted to throw hard. I did whatever I could to make sure that happened.”

Williams also reached base four times and finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and three runs scored as part of Kenai’s 13-hit attack.

A day after scoring four runs in the seventh inning in a wild 6-4 come-from-behind victory over No. 2 Chugiak Post 33, the Twins scored three runs in the first inning to draw first blood against the No. 6 Bears.

Kenai came in to the tournament seeded No. 7, but Williams believes the Twins are better than that.

“The games that we lost to bump us down were not by much,” he said.

Kenai won the Alyeska Pool in a three-way tie with South (2-1) and Bartlett (2-1). Kenai and South both advanced to the semifinals based on a tiebreaker of fewest runs in games between the three teams tied.

Williams, who is from Kodiak, joined the Kenai squad because his hometown Post 17 team hasn’t fielded a team in three seasons.

“A couple years ago I used to play against the Twins, and losing to them pretty bad, so joining them feels really nice,” Williams said. “It feels really nice to be part a team that is known for being good. A team people throw their best pitchers against them.”

That was the case against Bartlett, who threw Carl Colavecchio. The southpaw hadn’t pitched for most of the season as his coaches have eased him back, setting him up for this big start. It didn’t work out.

Six of the first 10 Kenai batters reached on walks and three of them scored on Andrew Pieh’s two-out, three-run double in the first inning that got the party started.

Williams’ two-out run-scoring single in the fourth inning made it 4-0.

Meanwhile, Kenai was in cruise control. Everything went right for the Twins, who picked off a runner (Williams) and threw out another trying to steal (Jacob Belger).

In the second, shortstop Gabe Smith made an error and on the next play made a spectacular 6-3 double play after diving for a liner and doubling up the runner at first.

“I definitely knew that I have a strong defense, but some surprised me, like that dive by my shortstop,” Williams said. “That was pretty cool. That saved a run, too.”

In the fifth, Kenai right fielder Simon Grenier made an error on a flyball but then threw out the batter pushing his luck trying to get to second base.

“It was just all the way around a great performance by my team. I feel so confident with them,” Williams said. “I think the biggest thing about this game was confidence.”

In the nightcap, Service Post 28 hung on for an 8-7 victory over Palmer Post 15 that clinched the Cougars the No. 2 seed in the Denali Pool with a 2-1 record. Eagle River won the pool with a 3-0 record.

It was a win-and-they’re-in scenario for the Cougars, who rallied from a 3-0 deficit early and then hung on for dear life as the Pioneers played three runs in the seventh and ended the game with the tying run on second base.

Service closer Hunter Christian pitched two innings to earn the save in relief of starter Sean Giffen, who earned the win with five innings.

Giffen was erratic early, and excellent late.

Nine of the first 14 batters he faced reached base as he gave up four runs in the first two innings before flipping the switch and racking up scoreless frames in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

“After the rough start it was my offense that really helped me bounce back,” Giffen said. “We were up by two in the second, so I just reset and put the first innings behind me. My teammates really picked me up.”

Service catcher Coen Niclai showcased his terrific two-way talent, throwing out two runners on the base paths and going 3-for-4 with three RBIs.

He twice threw out the leadoff runner after reaching base and then came up clutch with the bat with a two-run double in the sixth that proved to be the difference.

“Coen is a very special player,” Giffen said. “He is already an elite hitter and is the best defensive catcher in the state. But what makes him special is his leadership on the field at a younger age.

“The energy he brings to the field every game is crucial, and his double was the key play in tonight’s win. Just a big-time player making big time plays.”

Palmer’s Koen Leaders pitched all six innings and shut down Service over the third, fourth and fifth innings, thanks in part to a nice 4-3 double play from second baseman Owen Hayes, who caught a liner and doubled up the runner at first.

Bryant Marks was marvelous. The catcher went 2-for-3 with two walks, a double, a triple and two RBIs, including a two-out, two-run, two-bagger that brought Palmer within a run in his final at-bat of the season.

After not playing in the postseason since 1993, Palmer has qualified for state in 2019, 2021 and 2022.

State Tournament
Game 12

Kenai 11, Bartlett 1

Kenai (17-14, 2-1 Pool)

Hunter Williams 7IP 4H 6K 1PO 2-3 3R RBI

Andrew Pieh 3-5 4RBI

Atticus Gibson 2-3 3B RBI 3R

Jacob Belger 1-5 2B 2RBI 1CS

Bartlett (15-16, 2-1 Pool)

Connor Sessoms 2-2

Corey Gagnebin 1-2 RBI

Carl Colavecchio 1-3 R

Game 13

Service 8, Palmer 7

Service (21-10, 2-1 Pool)

Sean Giffen 5IP 6K 3-4 2R

Coen Niclai 3-4 2B 3RBI 2CS

Owen Hickman 2-4 2RBI

Kolby Jensen 1-3 2RBI

Hunter Christian 2IP SV

Palmer (16-15, 0-3 Pool)

Bryant Marks 2-3 2B 3B 2RBI

Koen Leaders 6IP 3K 2-2 2RBI

Brayden Parrent 2-4 2RBI

State Tournament

@ Mulcahy Stadium

Monday's Semifinals

2:15pm - Kenai (17-14) vs. Service (21-10)

5:30pm - South (24-8) vs. Eagle River (26-10)

Tuesday's Title Game

5:30 pm - Semifinals winners

Juneau escapes West to advance in Matson Invitational

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 24, 2022

Matson Invitational

Juneau 5, West 4
Joey Walker had a quality start for West, shutting out the Midnight Suns for 4 innings, until Juneau rallied for 3 in the 5th. 

Oliver Mendoza got the scoring started in the 5th with a deep sacrifice fly, bringing in Madden Mendoza. Kai Schmidt tacked on a much needed insurance RBI double in the bottom of the 6th, which ended up being the deciding run. 

Evan Fitzgerald had 2 RBI for the Eagles, who battled throughout the tournament and made it close in the end, having the tying run on base after scoring two in the seventh inning. 

Juneau will go on to face Ketchikan in a rematch from earlier in the tourney, when Ketchikan scraped by with a 2-0 win. 

The winner of the game tomorrow will face Wasilla in the Matson championship. 

Juneau (15-12)

Porter Nelson 3/4 RBI

Oliver Mendoza 1/4 RBI, 2B

Kai Schmidt 2/4 RBI, 2B

West (8-24)

Gabe Catternichio 2/3, 2R, BB

Joey Walker 4.67IP, 5K

Evan Fitzgerald 2/4, 2RBI

Fairbanks 7, North Pole 4

Shaun Conwell had 2 RBI, and Olav Moeller along with Landon Bicknell-Long allowed 1 earned run as the 49ers ended their season with a win in the Matson Invitational consolation game. 

Both teams were eliminated as of yesterday, and you can tell, they wanted to win, but had fun in the process. 

Familiar with each other from the Golden Heart City, Fairbanks Post 11 and North Pole Post 30 ended the season with smiles; which is what baseball is about. 

Fairbanks (7-19)

Shaun Conwell 2-4 2RBI

Landon Bicknell-Long 1IP, SV

Olav Moeller 6IP, 5K, ER

North Pole (8-21)

John Haas RBI

Ethan Frollo 1-4

Aaron Ziesel 1-2 BB

State Tournament Game 10: Eagle River 8, Palmer 2

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 23, 2022

State Tournament
Game 10 of 15
Eagle River 8, Palmer 2

The Wolves jumped out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back, getting a pair of RBIs from Noah Lower, Karson Kolberg and Connor Johnson to beat Palmer Post 15 8-2 on Day 3 of the Alaska Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Liam Lierman went 3-for-4 two runs scored and an RBI on a beautifully executed squeeze bunt that scored Charlie Wallace from third to make it 6-1.

Johnson knocked in two runs to give him a tournament-leading eight RBIs in three games.

Jack Molloy started on the mound and went three innings. 

But his play of the game came on defense when he snagged a comebacker with the bases loaded to rob Dylan Garrettson of a hit with the bases loaded and keep the game at 3-1.

Eagle River relievers Alex Mullen and Killian Johannes each threw two innings.

Palmer loaded the bases in the second, third and sixth innings but came away with just two runs and left 11 runners on base.

Garrettson's run-scoring single pulled Palmer within 3-1 in the second inning, but the Pioneers could draw no closer.

Eagle River (26-10, 3-0 Pool)
Liam Lierman 3-4 RBI 2R
Noah Lower 1-3 2RBI
Karson Kolberg 1-2 2RBI
Connor Johnson 1-1 2RBI
Josh Thompson 1-1 2R

Palmer (15-13, 0-2 Pool)
Nate Wilson 2-4 2B R
Landon Guggenmos RBI 2SB
Landon Kitzman 1-2 R
Dylan Garrettson 1-3 RBI
Bryant Marks 1-3 2SB

Matson Invitational Day 3: Wasilla advances to title game

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 23, 2022

Wasilla 5, Ketchikan 2

Karsen Spradling hit a 2-RBI single in the bottom of the 6th inning to highlight a 5-run Road Warrior rally as Post 35 marched to the Matson invitational championship game. 

Ketchikan’s Bubba Williams rolled through the Wasilla lineup for 5 innings strong, pitching a shutout until the Wasilla bats came alive. 

Karsen Spradling for the Road Warriors hit a clutch 2-out, 2-run single, scoring a third during the play due to his aggressive and heads up base running. 

Jace Crall pitched 5 2/3 strong for Wasilla, after reaching the maximum 105 pitch count. Colton Haase came in and slammed the door on the Kings, striking out 3 of 4 batters he faced. 

Wasilla advances to the Matson Invitational championship game Tuesday at Mulcahy Stadium for the second straight year, chasing their 3rd title in program history.

Wasilla (11-13)

Jace Crall 5.67IP, 6K, 2ER

Karsen Spradling 1-3 2RBI, BB

Alex Bond 2-2 BB

Colton Haase 1.33IP, 0ER, 3K, W

Ketchikan (7-16)

Bubba Williams 5.33IP, 2-3, 2B, BB

Terik Brown 2-4 RBI

McKinley Hamilton 2-4

 

Juneau 2, Fairbanks 1

A pitchers duel broke out at Bartlett High School, just 6 hits and 15 strikeouts throughout the game. 

Olin Rawson and Christian Nelson for Juneau and Shaun Conwell for Fairbanks pitched masterfully, having allowed a total of 2 hits through 4 innings. 

Rawson finished his six-inning start with a clutch strikeout with the tying run at third and the leading run at second to close out the potential rally. 

The sixth inning also held a great play by Oliver Mendoza of Juneau, who threw out the tying run at the plate for the 5-2 tag out. 

Juneau got the first run, breaking through on a suicide squeeze from Kasen Ludeman, driving in Mendoza. 

Kai Schmidt, who came in relief behind the plate in the fourth inning, made a beautiful throw in the seventh inning to throw out a 49er trying to advance on a ball in the dirt. 

Christian Nelson then closed the door in the 7th, picking up the save for the Midnight Suns. 

Conwell pitched a complete game, striking out seven and allowing only one walk throughout the game against the Juneau lineup. 

Juneau stays alive, playing in their only Matson appearance since rejoining American Legion baseball in 2013. 

Juneau (14-12)

Olin Rawson 6IP, ER, 8K

Christian Nelson 1IP, SV

Kasen Ludeman RBI

Oliver Mendoza 1-2, R

Fairbanks (6-17)

Shaun Conwell 6IP, 7K, BB, 2ER

Landon Bicknell-Long 1-3, R

Dylan Swarthout 1-3, 2B

Christopher Luskleet 1-3

 

West 6, East 2

West Anchorage Post 1 had solid pitching to advance in an elimination matchup against the East Anchorage Post 34 on Day 3 of the Matson Invitational.

Beckett Stolp started, allowing just two hits and two earned runs through 3 1/3 innings. Evan Fitzgerald cleaned it up with 3 2/3 of scoreless ball to secure the win. 

Defense from the Eagles came up big in the 6th, completing a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning stall the Thunderbirds. 

Blake Yawit had the only two hits for the T-Birds, along with stellar outfield play patrolling center field. 

West (8-23) 

Beckett Stolp 3.33IP, 2ER, 4K, 1-3, 2B, R

Paul Dittrich 2-3 RBI

Evan Fitzgerald 3.67 IP, 0ER, 1-2 RBI

Gabe Catternichio 1-3 RBI, R

East (6-25)

Edison Polanco 3IP, 2ER, RBI

Blake Yawit 2-4, R, 2SB

Eduardo Rodrigues 4IP, 5K, 3ER

State Tournament Game 9: Kenai 6, Chugiak 4

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 23, 2022

State Tournament
Game 9 of 15
Kenai 6, Chugiak 4

Kenai Post 20 scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to stun Chugiak Post 33 by a 6-4 score on Day 3 of the Alaska Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Jacob Belger, Andrew Pieh and Simon Grenier each had RBIs in the remarkable rally that keeps alive the Twins' state title hopes.

Kenai trailed 4-2 going into the seventh inning.

Atticus Gibson led off the seventh with a single and went to third on Hunter Williams' single. Belger's sac fly pulled the Twins within 4-3.

Gabe Smith walked and Pieh doubled in the tying run.

Kenai scored the go-ahead run on an error before Grenier's fielder's choice provided a little cushion.

Gibson tied the tournament record with a 3-pitch seventh inning, getting a flyout and two groundouts in the span of about 30 seconds.

Gibsonn went  the distance, throwing a 7-hit complete game with four strikeouts.

The loss spoiled a strong pitching performance by Cam Costanios, who struck out six batters of 5.1 innings and left with a 4-2 lead.

Kenai (16-14, 1-1 Pool)
Scored 4 runs in 7th
Andrew Pieh 2-4 2B RBI
Atticus Gibson 7IP 4K 102 3R
Jacob Belger RBI
Simon Grenier RBI

Chugiak (16-15, 0-3 Pool)
Cam Costanios 5.1IP 2R 6K
Jayden Steckel 3-3 RBI

State Tournament Game 8: Bartlett 5, South 2

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 23, 2022

State Tournament
Game 8 of 15
Bartlett 5, South 2

Bartlett Post 29 pitchers Nick Brandal and Corey Gagnebin held South Post 4 off the scoreboard for the final six innings to highlight a 5-2 upset in a No. 6 vs. No. 3 matchup on Day 3 of the Alaska Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

This is the first time Bartlett has won two games in the postseason since 2007. This was also the first time Bartlett had defeated South at the state tournament.

The Bears took a 4-2 lead in the fourth inning after scoring three runs on RBIs by Brandal and Connor Sessoms, who later scored to make it 4-2.

Brandal struck out the side in the bottom of the fourth and left after five innings, giving way to Gagnebin.

Gagnebin retired six of seven batters he faced to earn the save, ending the game on a fly ball to left field.

Gagnebin also pitched four innings and picked up the win in Bartlett's 7-3 win in 10 innings over No. 2 Chugiak on Day 1.

Bartlett (15-15, 2-0 Pool)
Nick Brandal 5IP 2R 3K RBI
Corey Gagnebin 2IP SV 3K 1-4 2B RBI
Connor Sessoms RBI
Luke Helgeson 1-2 2R

South (24-8, 2-1 Pool)
Kaden Bevegni 1-4 2RBI
Maddux Soland 2-3
Gavin Partch 1-3 R
Garrett Gross 3.1IP 1R

State Tournament Game 7: Service 9, Dimond 1

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 23, 2022

State Tournament
Game 7 of 15
Service 9, Dimond 1

Jake Rafferty threw 6.1 innings with five scoreless frames and Service Post 28 banged out five extra-base hits in a 9-1 win over Dimond Post 21 on Day 3 of the Alaska Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Sean Giffen and Coen Niclai each doubled and tripled, and were in the middle of a four-run fifth inning explosion that allowed the Cougars to break away.

Dimond's Garrett Lick ripped an RBI double in the second inning to give the Lynx an early 1-0 lead.

Niclai doubled and scored on Owen Hickman's groundball to tie the game in the fourth inning. Hickman later scored on a passed ball to give Service the lead for good.

Service was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position before Giffen's RBI's double, Rafferty's RBI single and Niclai's RBI triple in consecutive at-bats.

Dimond's Chase Mathews struck out seven batters over 4.1 innings, including back-to-back Ks looking to end the first inning with a runner on third.

He also ended the third with a strikeout and carried a shutout into the fourth inning.

Service (20-10, 1-1 Pool)
Jake Rafferty 6.1IP 6K 1-3 2RBI
Sean Giffen 3-4 2B 3B 2RBI 2R
Coen Niclai 2-3 2B 3B RBI 3R SB
Owen Hickman 1-3 3RBI SB

Dimond (18-13, 1-2 Pool)
Garrett Lick 1-2 2B RBI
Chase Mathews 4.1IP 7K
Shane Stephan 2-4 SB

State Tournament Game 6: South 11, Chugiak 1

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 22, 2022

State Tournament
Game 6 of 15
South 11, Chugiak 1

Skyler Sugita set the table and Ben Neuberger cleared it as South Post 4 cleaned up with an 11-1 win over Chugiak Post 33 on Day 2 of the Alaska Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Sugita, the leadoff man, went 3-for-4 with an RBI and four runs scored. Neuberger, the two-hole hitter, went 3-for-4 with a run and four RBIs.

Together, they set the tone for the Wolverines, who improved their winning streak to seven games.

Starter Luke Ivanoff was in complete control, throwing 1-2-3 frames in the first and third innings, and carrying a shutout into the fourth inning.

In the third inning, Kaden Bevegni's bases-loaded walk gave South a 1-0 lead and Isaac Johnson's two-run single made it 3-0. 

The next inning the Wolverines pushed their lead to 5-0 on Neuberger's two-run single.

Chugiak struck for its lone run in the fourth inning after Hunter Rau reached and came home on Michael Boudreau's two-out RBI triple down the right-field line.

In the fifth, Ivanoff tripled and scored and Sugita added a two-run single that opened the flood gates.

South (24-7, 2-0 in Pool)
Ben Neuberger 3-4 4RBI
Skyler Sugita 3-4 4R RBI
Kaden Bevegni 1-2 2RBI
Issac Johnson 1-4 2RBI
Luke Ivanoff 4.1IP 1H 4K 1-2  3B

Chugiak (16-14, 0-2 in Pool)
Michael Boudreau 1-2 3B RBI
Hunter Rau 1-1 R
Gabe Gruszynski 1-2

Matson Invitational: Day 2: Wasilla, Ketchikan unbeaten

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 22, 2022

Matson Invitational

Wasilla 15, West 11

In a game that had 26 runs and 27 hits, Wasilla Post 35 downed West Post 1 in a Matson Invitational title game rematch of 2021, and a state title rematch from 2020. 

The Road Warriors scored at least one run in every inning, including 5 in the bottom of the first. 

Helped out by the steady bat of Pedro Camacho, who doubled and drove in 3, Wasilla had contributions from Jared Venie and Breandan O’Donnell, who had two RBI a piece. 

Venie pitched fantastic in relief, in a game filled with so many runs, he went 3 1/3 innings without allowing one, letting up 1 hit and striking out 6.

Gabe Catternichio led the way out of the leadoff spot for the West side Eagles, going 4-5 with 3RBI. Beckett Stolp also added 3 hits in the effort for Post 1. 

West (8-24)

Beckett Stolp 3-5, 2B, 3R

Gabe Catternichio 4-5 3RBI, 2B

Orion Halliburton 2-4 2RBI

Cyrus Clendaniel 1-3 2RBI, 2B

Wasilla (11-13)

Pedro Camacho 2-4 3RBI, 2B, 2R

Jace Crall 3-4 RBI, BB, 2SB, 3R

Jaren Venie 3.33 IP, 6K, 0ER, 2-3 2RBI

Karsen Spradling 2-4, R, BB

Ketchikan 2, Juneau 0

Colby Hanchey and Johnathan Scobic combined for a complete-game shutout as the Kings advance through the winners bracket in the Matson Invitational. 

No doubt the play of the game, and of the tournament so far, was Hanchey’s diving catch on a Juneau bunt attempt to start a double play in the 6th. 

With no outs and runners at first and second, the Midnight Suns attempted to move the runners into scoring position with a bunt. Being down only two and late in the game, this was a good choice. But Hanchey was ready for it. 

Quick off the mound, Hanchey makes an incredible diving catch by the first base line, then throwing over to Chase Harris at first base to complete the double play. 

The battle of Southeast supremacy was dominated pitching, not just from Ketchikan. 

Pitcher Kai Schmidt and Landon Simonson did their part, allowing one earned run and racking up 8 punch outs. 

An RBI groundout from Ben Phillips and a timely Terik Brown RBI double is all Ketchikan needed. 

The Kings advance to face the Wasilla Road Warriors tomorrow in the winner’s bracket final, with both of the teams with two Matson titles, trying to make it three. 

Ketchikan (8-15)

Terik Brown 3-4 RBI, 2B

Colby Hanchey 4IP, 0ER

Johnathan Scobic 3IP, 0ER

Juneau (14-12)

Kai Schmidt 2-3, BB, SB, 4IP, 6K, 0ER

Olin Rawson 1-3

Landon Simonson 3IP, 1ER

East 10, North Pole 9

The Thunderbirds of Post 34 held off the Post 30 North Pole Wild comeback attempt. After leading 8-1 after the 4th inning, East stayed alive and eliminates the Wild in the 9th annual Matson Invitational. 

East was led by Bryce Erickson on the mound, who pitched 6 1/3 innings, striking out 8. Erickson also had 2 hits along with Andrew Hickman. 

Freshman Blake Yawit went off, reaching base 4 times, starting the game with a leadoff bunt, and ended the game with 3 hits including an RBI triple, scoring Jacob Pruitt which proved to be the game winning run. 

Yawit was also a menace on the base paths, tying an all-time Matson Record with 4 stolen bases. 

North Pole never gave up in the game, once being down 8-1 halfway through the game. Helped out by Jeremiah Forquer’s 4-inning relief performance only allowing 2 runs, North Pole caught up quickly with 5 runs in the bottom of the 5th highlighted by a Dalson Hines 2 RBI double. 

East Post 34 will play Fairbanks Post 11 on Saturday in a loser-out game. 

East (6-25)

Bryce Erickson 6.33 IP, 8K, 2-4, 2B, RBI

Edison Polanco 1-4 3RBI

Blake Yawit 3-4 RBI, Matson Record 4 SB

Andrew Hickman 2-4 RBI, 2B 

North Pole (8-18)

Remy Daravivanh 2-3 

Jeremiah Forquer 4 IP, 2 ER, 5 K

Dalton Hines 1-4 2RBI, 2B

State Tournament Game 5: Eagle River 1, Dimond 0

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 22, 2022

State Tournament
Game 5 of 15
Eagle River 1, Dimond 0

Connor Johnson's sac fly in the bottom of the seventh inning drove in Liam Lierman with the winning run as Eagle River walked off with a 1-0 win over Dimond Post 21 on Day 2 of the Alaska Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Lierman led off the seventh with a walk and then stole second base before moving to third on Noah Lower's sac bunt. With a runner on third and one out, Dimond was forced to intentionally walk the next two batters to load the bases and hope to turn an inning-ending double play.

Johnson smacked the first pitch he saw to center field, deep enough to score Lierman with the winning run to move the defending state champions to 2-0 in this year's tournament.

Eagle River pitchers Karson Kolberg and Alex Mullen combined on a 2-hit shutout.

Kolberg threw only 56 pitches, incouding a six-pitch gem in the second inning.

This was the Wolves' second 1-0 win in their last three state tournament games, dating back to last year's state title game against South.

Dimond's Garrett Lick pitched five shutout innings to earn a no decision. He also delivered the game's only extra-base hit with a double in the fifth inning.

He made his biggest impact on the bump, striking out for of the first five batters and finishing with a half dozen punch outs.

Ryan Swanstrom pitched a clean sixth inning, getting a flyout with the bases loaded to end the threat. He also banged out his team's other base hit.

Dimond catcher Joe Moriarty threw out a base runner in the third inning.

Eagle River (25-10, 2-0 in Pool)
Karson Kolberg 5IP 2H 0R 1K
Alex Mullen 2IP 0H 0R 2K
Connor Johnson 1-3 SF GWRBI
Liam Lierman 1-2 R 2SB HBP BB

Dimond (18-12, 1-1 in Pool)
Garrett Lick 5IP 0R 6K 1-2 2B
Ryan Swanstrom 1-3 1.1IP

State Tournament Game 4: Eagle River 15, Service 5

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 21, 2022

State Tournament
Game 4 of 15
Eagle River 15, Service 5

Connor Johnson drove in five RBIs to set the tone that carried top-seeded Eagle River to a 15-5 victory over Service Post 28 on Day 1 of the Alaska Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

The defending state champion Wolves didn't look sharp for most of the game but gashed the Cougars pitching staff for seven runs in the bottom of the sixth to end early by mercy rule.

Three Eagle River pitchers combined to issue 10 walks, helping Service put at least two runners on base in each of the first five innings.

Service scored four runs before getting its first hit with one out in the fifth inning. James Ivey singled and later scored to pull the Cougars within 7-4. Sean Giffen’s RBI single made it 7-5.

Johnson had a pair of two-run singles in each of the first and second innings to help Eagle River build an early 6-2 lead.

Josh Thompson, Noah Lower and Liam Lierman each had two RBIs for the Wolves, who touched up five Service pitchers for 14 hits and 15 runs.

Service's loss snapped a seven-game winning streak.
Eagle River  (24-10, 1-0 in Pool)
Connor Johnson 3-5 5RBI
Josh Thompson 2-3 2RBI 3R
Noah Lower 2-4 2B 2RBI 2R
Liam Lierman 2-4 2RBI 2R

Service (19-10, 0-1 in Pool)
Owen Hickamn 1-1 RBI
Sean Giffen 1-3 RBI
Had 7-game win streak snapped

State Tournament Game 3: Bartlett 7, Chugiak 3 (10)

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 21, 2022

State Tournament
Game 3 of 15
Bartlett 7, Chugiak 3 (10)

Carl Colavecchio's three-run triple in the 10th inning lifted Bartlett Post 29 over Chugiak Post 33 in a 7-3 marathon game that lasted 10 innings on Day 1 of the Alaska Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.
This not only was an upset with the No. 6 seed taking down the No. 3 Mustangs, but the Bears won their first game at the state tournament since 2013.
Blake Bacho's RBI walk with the bases loaded gave Bartlett a 4-3 lead and then Colavecchio cleared the bases with a triple to the gap.
This was the first time Bartlett beat Chugiak at the state tournament since 2004.
The historic effort was highlighted by several players, including Colavecchio's extra-base laser. Third baseman Luke Helgeson made a beautiful backhand, spin, throw across the diamond play and right fielder Connor Sessoms made a great catch to end the ninth inning and force extras.
And then there was Corey Gagnebin, who pitched four scoreless innings of relief to pick up the win.
Gagnebin also tied the game 1-1 with an RBI single in the fifth inning.
Down 3-1, Chugiak turned aa 6-4-3 double play to end the top of the sixth inning and then tied the game by scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth.
The Mustangs knotted the game at 3 on Jayden Steckel's sac fly that scored Fischer Sims.
This was Bartlett's first win over Chugiak in three meetings this season.
Bartlett (14-15, 1-0 in Pool)
Carl Colavecchio 3-5 3B 3RBI
Corey Gagnebin 4IP 1H 0R RBI
Blake Bacho 6IP RBI
John Grantier 2-5 RBI
Chugiak (16-13, 0-1 in Pool)
Cam Costanios 3IP 0ER 
Preston Rau 4.1IP 4K
Tyler Cage 1-3 2B

Matson Invitational Day 1: West, Ketchikan, Juneau win

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 21, 2022

West 13 Fairbanks 3

Makai Baylous and Joey Walker combined for 1 run allowed through 5 innings on the mound and a pair of RBI each, as the Eagles topple the 49ers in the opening round of the 9th Annual Matson Invitational. 

West Anchorage (5-12) brought down the rain in the 6th, plating 8 to put the mercy rule into effect and send the Eagles to the winners bracket in the double-elimination tournament.

The pitching staff from the West-siders was helped out by Orion Halliburton all day at shortstop. Making it look easy, including a great diving catch in the 5th to stymie a 49er potential rally. 

Christopher Luskleet provided most of the offense for Fairbanks (6-23), going 2-4 with 2 RBI. 

Ketchikan 10, North Pole 2

Chase Hanis threw a complete game, allowing 1 earned run, for the Ketchikan Kings as Post 3 was victorious over the North Pole 30 Wild in the opening round at the Matson Invitational. 

Ketchikan (6-15) had 6 different players drive in runs, but none bigger than a 2 RBI double by Terik Brown in the 2nd inning. The Kings later added on 5 runs in the final 2 innings to seal it. 

For North Pole (8-17), they had 11 hits including 2 from each of Jorge Pagan, Ethan Frollo, John Haas and Aiden Graetzsch. 

Juneau 9, East 6

Juneau Post 25 scored 4 in the bottom of the 6th to halt the East Thunderbirds upset attempt in the first round of play at the Matson Invitational. 

Porter Nelson had two triples and an RBI to add on to his 3 inning relief on the mound as Juneau (13-11) had a first round scare to the 15 seed Thunderbirds. 

East Post 34 (5-25) had a great day at the plate by the switch hitting power bat or Edison Polanco, who ended with a game-high 3 hits and an RBI. 

Juneau will head the winners bracket in their first time competing in the Matson Invitational since rejoining Alaska Legion Baseball in 2013. 

State Tournament Game 2: South 3, Kenai 2

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 21, 2022

State Tournament

Game 2 of 15

South 3, Kenai 2

Isaac Johnson pitched six strong innings and watched the South Post 4 bullpen nail it down with a nervous seventh inning to seal a 3-2 win over Kenai Post 20 on Day 1 of the Alaska Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Relievers Blake Peterson and Hunter Manderson combined to wiggle out of a wild seventh, leaving the bases loaded on a slow chopper to third to end the game. Peterson got the first two outs and Manderson got the save, but it didn't come easy.

Kenai bookended the game with runs, scoring the first with no outs in the first inning and the second with two down in the seventh.

Johnson made it tough for the Twins, scattering three hits and one walk while striking out six. At one point he recorded more outs (10) than he threw balls (9).

In the sixth inning, he helped turn a 1-2-3 double play to escape a two-on, one-out jam.

Kenai's Daltyn Deborski opened the game with a triple on the first swing of the game and scored on a throwing error on the same play.

South's Kaden Bevegni tied the game at 1 with an RBI triple in the bottom of the first.

In the second inning, nine-hole hitter AJ Sawicki and leadoff hitter Skyler Sugita had RBI base knocks to put the Wolverines ahead for good.

Even if Kenai didn't win, the Twins made winning plays. Take the catcher Jacob Belger, who backed up first base and helped turn a 4-6-2-6 double play to end the sixth.

South (23-7, 1-0 in Pool)

Isaac Johnson 6IP 6K

Hunter Manderson SV 1-3 2B R

Kaden Bevegni 1-3 RBI

Ben Neuberger 2-3 2B R

Gavin Partch 2-3

Kenai (15-14, 0-1 in Pool)

Hunter Williams 3IP 0R

Daltyn Deborski 1-3 3B R

Charlie Chamberlain HBP R

State Tournament Game 1: Dimond 3, Palmer 2

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 21, 2022

State Tournament

Game 1 of 15

Dimond 3, Palmer 2

Miah Eneix, Adam Boyce and Peyton Montagna each had RBIs in an explosive sixth inning that carried Dimond Post 21 to a 3-2 win over Post 15 Palmer on Day 1 of the Alaska Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Eneix's double tied the game at 1-1, Boyce's sac fly gave his team its first lead and Montagna's infield single provided the winning run.

This was Dimond's first Day 1 win at state since 2018, snapping a three-game losing streak.

The Lynx played solid defense and recorded four outs on the base paths - two rundowns, a pick off and an outfield assist.

That just made life easier for Dimond pitchers Eneix and Alex Bruce.

Eneix pitched the first six innings and struck out nine batters, including a stretch of five consecutive early on.

Bruce earned a one-inning save, getting a pickoff and two strikeouts. He ended the game with a strike out with the tying run on second base.

Palmer took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Koen Leaders' RBI single three batters into the game. 

Brayden Parrent pulled the Pioneers within 3-2 with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Both teams threw out base runners trying to steal home, each time coming with two outs.

Dimond (18-11, 1-0 Pool)

Miah Eneix 6IP 9K 1-2 2B RBI

Alex Bruce 1IP Sv 1-1 2B

Shane Stephan 2-4 4SB R

Peyton Montagna 1-3 RBI

Palmer (15-12, 0-1 Pool)

Landon Guggenmos 6IP 7K

Koen Leaders 1-2 RBI

Brayden Parrent 1-3 RBI

2022 Legion Team of Excellence

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 21, 2022

2022 Legion Team of Excellence_Page_1.jpg

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Legion State Tournament at-a-glance

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 20, 2022

Alaska Legion State Tournament at.jpg

Brody Jessee picked in 10th round by Reds in MLB Draft

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 18, 2022

Even though Anchorage’s Brody Jessee knew he would get drafted at some point today, the moment still caught him off guard.

Seeing your name scroll across the bottom of the TV screen will do that.

“It's all kind of just setting in now,” he said after getting picked in the 10th round by the Cincinnati Reds. “It’s very cool.”

It’s also historic.

Jessee was selected with the 303rd overall pick, making him the eighth-highest Alaskan among the 38 players from the state to be taken in the MLB Draft.

When it comes to Anchorage, only Brian Montalbo (4th round, Braves), Jonny Homza (5th round, Padres) and Trajan Langdon (6th round, Padres) have been drafted higher than Jessee.

The 21-year-old rocket right-hander out of Gonzaga University knew he would get drafted because of previous conversations he had had with his agent and scouts from different teams around the league.

“They were projecting second day,” he said.

“I was sitting there watching all of my teammates get drafted and just taking phone calls from everybody, thinking about where I might land and talking to my agent.”

The buildup to the moment he got drafted was crazy as he heard from the Phillies, Reds, Cubs and Yankees.

His phone kept ringing and ringing.

“They were calling talking numbers,” he said. “How about 7th, the 8th? How about 9th, how about after the 10th, trying to figure out what they were going to sign for as the picks were flying by. I was trying to talk to my agent about them, and he was hearing things. It was a whole thing.”

Jessee felt like he was living out a movie about the draft, with plot twists, nervous moments and a happy ending.

“The whole dramatic thing that you see on TV ended up happening to me,” Jessee said with a laugh. “But it was fun. It’s a lot of relief, a lot of excitement. My whole life for the next four or five years got decided today.”

The former South all-star is coming off his sophomore season at Gonzaga, where he ranked second with 18 appearances on a 37-19 team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The 6-foot-4 reliever furnished a 4.58 ERA in 35.1 innings with 48 strikeouts to 19 walks.

“My season itself, result wise, was a little underwhelming for myself just because I had set some lofty goals,” he said.

Still, there were marvelous moments like his two takeover performances, first against No. 4 Oklahoma State and then against West Coast Conference opponent Pepperdine.

He showcased a 97-mph fastball at Oklahoma State, mowing through the order on his way to racking up seven Ks in 3.2 scoreless inning and earning the win in a 2-1 victory.

A month later he racked up a career-high 10 strikeouts in four frames against Pepperdine – the first Alaskan to record double-digit Ks against a NCAA Division I opponent since Sitka’s Matt Way of Washington State had 12 against Washington in 2009.

Jessee finished with 48 Ks, one more than Montalbo had with California in 2001.

“It was kind of a ‘prove it’ season, where scouts could see me go length over four innings, show them that I could be a starter potentially,” Jessee said. “From that standpoint the season went really well.”

Already armed with a flaming fastball and disappearing slider, Jessee this year added a changeup to his arsenal. Having a third pitch to consistently lean on for outs is a game changer for a pitcher. It’s an element he’s worked hard on that didn’t come easy.

“I was always tinkering with a third pitch but I could never really call it my third pitch,” he said. “It just didn’t have a consistent shape and it wasn’t coming off the same, and I’d lose it for months on end.”

But that’s changed with his changeup.

“I’m understanding the way the ball is supposed to move now and how it’s supposed to feel out of the hand,” Jessee said. “I’m learning along the way.

“Compared to everybody I’m competing against, I have minimal experience, so it’s a matter of making every inning count, every bullpen count.”

Jessee didn’t play in a summer league like the ABL, opting instead to wait for the draft and work out with his personal pitching coach, Johnny Meszaros – a former MLB draft pick in 2013 – of Anchorage.

“He started training me after my freshman year in college and that’s the full reason why I’m here now,” Jessee said of Meszaros. “I’ve been training with him, working the slider, working the changeup and just really trying to refine my shapes, and stay healthy, lifting hard and staying on pace.”

Jessee was not ranked among the top 250 players entering the draft, before going No. 303 to Cincinnati.

“(This) definitely validates all the work I put in wasn’t for nothing,” he said. “At least someone, somewhere, sees the value and potential in that, so it’s a nice way for me to get my foot in the door to hopefully play in the bigs someday.”

Legion All-Star rosters released

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 18, 2022

2022 Legion All-Star Game_Page_1.jpg2022 Legion All-Star Game_Page_2.jpg

Legion notebook: Ivanoff has 8 RBIs, Hayes pitches gem

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 13, 2022

South Post 4 slugger Luke Ivanoff drove in eight runs Tuesday night to carry the Wolverines to a 13-1 victory over Wasilla Post 35.

Ivanoff hit a grand slam in the first inning at McManus Field and finished with eight RBIs – the most in Alaska Legion since 2017 when Kenai’s Paul Steffensen had seven RBIs.

Ivanoff went 3-for-4 with a home run to lead South’s 12-hit attack in five innings.

Also on Tuesday, the Palmer Post 15 Pioneers beat the Bartlett Post 29 Bears 2-1 and the Fairbanks Post 11 49ers knocked off the North Pole Post 30 Wild 15-3.

At Bartlett, Palmer pitching ace Owen Hayes threw another gem in the win over upstart Bartlett.

Hayes went six innings to earn the win, allowing three hits and striking out three. Bryant Marks threw the final inning to earn the save.

Five days ago, Hayes threw a 6-hit shutout to beat South 6-0.

This time he outdueled Bartlett’s Eli Corwin, who allowed one earned run over 5.1 innings.

In Fairbanks, Dylan Swarthout went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and four stolen bases to highlight the win for the 49ers.

This Week’s Legion AA League Games

South 13, Wasilla 1

South (19-7, 9-4)

Luke Ivanoff 3-4 HR 8RBI SB

Blake Peterson 5IP 6K

Maddux Soland 1-4 2RBI

Gavin Partch 2-3 RBI 3R HBP

Wasilla (9-12, 8-7)

Logan Bean RBI

Colton Haase 1-2 R BB

Breandan O'Donnell 1-2

 

Palmer 2, Bartlett 1

Palmer (15-10, 9-7)

Owen Hayes 6IP 3H 3K 1-2 BB

Koen Leaders 2-2 2B RBI BB

Landon Guggenmos 1-3 3B R

Nate Wilson R

Bryant Marks 1IP Sv

Bartlett (13-14, 10-6)

Eli Corwin 5.1IP 1ER 2K

Luke Helgeson 1-3 2B R

Corey Gagnebin 1.2IP 0R

 

Fairbanks 15, North Pole 3

Fairbanks (5-13, 2-10)

Dylan Swarthout 3-4 4RBI 4SB

Olav Moeller 3IP 0H

Bryson Roon 2-3 2RBI

Shawn Conwell 1-3 2RBI

North Pole (7-13, 3-9)

Dylan Earl RBI

Ethan Frollo 3BB R

Hunter Clements 2BB R

 

Bartlett 10, East 3

Bartlett (13-13, 10-5)

Carl Colavecchio 3-4 2RBI 2R SB

Corey Gagnebin 2-4 2RBI 2R 2SB

Nick Brandal 3.1IP 0R 2-4 SB

Connor Sessoms 1-2 RBI 2SB

East (4-21, 1-13)

Angus Nicholson 1-3 2RBI

Bryce Erickson 6IP 6K 1-2 2B

Blake Yawit 2-3 2R 2SB

 

Kenai 13, Palmer 6

Kenai (13-13, 7-7)

Jacob Belger 2-4 3B 3RBI

Hunter Williams 2-5 RBI 2.2IP 1ER

Simon Grenier 2-3 2RBI 2R

Gabe Smith 2-5 2RBI

Palmer (14-10, 8-7)

Kaesen Buzby 1-3 2RBI 4IP 3K

Koen Leaders RBI

Owen Hayes 2-4 2B

Landon Guggenmos 2-5 2B 3IP

 

Dimond 4, Ketchikan 3

Dimond (14-9, 9-4)

Miah Eneix 5IP 1ER 11K

Peyton Montagna 1-4 RBI SB

Joe Moriarty 1-2 2B RBI

Eli Lipinski 2IP 0R

Garrett Lick 2-3

Ketchikan (4-11, 1-10)

Bubba Williams 7IP 6K

Thomas Kroscavage 1-3 2B RBI

Trevor Sayer RBI

Colby Hanchey 1-3 SB

 

Chugiak 6, South 5

Chugiak (14-10, 11-2)

Preston Rau 7IP 2K

Michael Boudreau 1-1 2RBI

Landon Luebke 1-2 RBI

Connor Lanehart 1-2 2BB SB

South (17-7, 7-4)

Ben Neuberger 2-3 2B 2RBI

Kaden Bevegni 2-4 2RBI

Gavin Partch 1-3 RBI

Luke Ivanoff 3IP 1R

 

Bartlett 9, Wasilla 0

Bartlett (12-13, 9-5)

Blake Bacho 6IP 1H 5K

Corey Gagnebin 2-4 2B 2RBI 2R 2SB

Carl Colavecchio 2-4 2RBI 1IP

Connor Sessoms 1-3 2B 2RBI

John Grantier 3-4 RBI

Wasilla (9-11, 8-6)

Jace Crall 1-3

Dayton Greer 2.1IP 0R

Jaren Venie 3.2IP 4K

 

Service 19, Fairbanks 1

Service (16-9, 9-5)

Jake Rafferty 3IP 0H 1-3 3RBI

Sean Giffen 2-4 2B 2RBI 2IP

Hunter Christian 2-4 2B 3R

Landon Martindale 1-3 2RBI 3R

Carson Maltby 3R

Fairbanks (4-13, 1-10)

Grant Swarthout 1-3

Bryson Roon BB

Landon Bicknell-Long BB

Napoleon wins Todd Ryan, sweeps AK tournament tour

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 4, 2022

Backed by a 23-hit attack, the Napoleon Post 300 River Bandits of Ohio used a late-game rally to propel them to a 22-8 victory in the championship game of the Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament in Wasilla.

The Buffalo Post 270 Cobras of Minnesota and Napoleon combined for 30 runs and 10 extra-base hits.

The teams were tied 7-7 entering the sixth inning before the Bandits got busy.

Napoleon (28-4) scored eight runs in the sixth and six more in the seventh in a 14-run explosion that carried the team to the title.

DJ Newman went 4-for-5 with a home run, double and three RBIs. Wade Liffick was 4-for-5 and drove in two runs.

Sluggers Luke Krouse (2-for-5) and Abram Delano (3-for-6) each had four RBIs.

Buffalo (11-9) banged out 11 hits and tied the game at 7 after scoring four runs.

Evan Soeffker had a game for the ages – home run, two doubles and six RBIs.

Caleb Breuer was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.

Buffalo wrapped up its Alaska trip with a 6-6 record, finishing sixth in Anchorage, third in Kenai and second in Wasilla.

Yesterday, the Cobras handed Napoleon its only loss in 12 games in Alaska, snapping the Bandits’ 14-game winning streak in The Last Frontier dating back to 2019.

Napoleon stole the show this year, becoming just the third team in 20 years to win the Alaska Airlines Tournament Tour triple crown in Anchorage, Kenai and Wasilla.

Alaska Airlines Tournament Tour Triple Crown Winners

  • 2011 – Napoleon (OH)
  • 2015 – Castroville (TX)
  • 2022 – Napoleon (OH)

Napoleon became the first team to win the Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament four times, snapping a tie with Wasilla Post 35.

This was the highest scoring tournament title game since 2018, when Lone Peak (UT) beat Ketchikan 18-11.

In 2016, Wasilla beat Lanakila (HI) 15-7.

Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament Champions

  • 2022 – Napoleon (OH)
  • 2020-2021 – No Tournament
  • 2019 – Napoleon (OH)
  • 2018 – Lone Peak (UT)
  • 2017 – Walla Walla (WA)
  • 2016 – Wasilla (AK)
  • 2015 – Castroville (TX)
  • 2014 – Team Avenue (CA)
  • 2013 – Napoleon (OH)
  • 2012 – Castroville (TX)
  • 2011 – Napoleon (OH)
  • 2010 – Rained out
  • 2009 – Dimond (AK)
  • 2008 – Rained out
  • 2007 – Excelsior (MN)
  • 2006 – Wasilla (AK)
  • 2005 – East (AK)
  • 2004 – West Warwick (RI)
  • 2003 – Wasilla (AK)
  • 2002 – Kenai (AK)
  • 2001 – West Warwick (RI)
  • 2000 – Service (AK)

Outside teams rule Day 2 of Todd Ryan; OH v MN in final

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 3, 2022

Lower 48 teams took over Day 2 of the Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament at McManus Field in Wasilla.

The Buffalo Post 270 Cobras won two games to improve to 3-0 in the tournament, while the Napoleon Post 300 River Bandits of Ohio went 1-1 with a victory over the Palmer Post 15 Pioneers.

The Cobras have been the story in this tournament, taking a bite out of competition for a 31-14 scoring advantage.

They handed Napoleon an 8-5 loss, snapping the Bandits’ 14-game winning streak in Alaska dating back to 2019.

Buffalo (11-8) trailed 5-0 entering the fifth inning before coming alive offensively.

Evan Soeffker went 3-for-4 with a triple, double and three RBIs. Eric Johnson was 2-for-3, scored a run and pitched 1.1 scoreless innings.

Broc Mutterer came out of the bullpen to throw 2.1 innings of scoreless relief.

Make Butler drove in two runs for the Bandits, while DJ Newman was 2-for-3 with an RBI and Wade Liffick added an RBI.

Earlier in the day, Napoleon (27-4) rallied from a three-run deficit to plate six runs in the third inning and pull away from Palmer 10-7.

Napoleon slugger Breven Deckrosh went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs.

Deckrosh's dinger at McManus Field in Wasilla was his fourth home run in 11 Legion games in Alaska. He also hit bombs in Anchorage and Kenai.

Nobody had homered in all three tournaments in the same season in 20 years of the Alaska Airlines Tournament Tour before Deckrosh.

Newman was 2-for-5 with a double and two runs, and Nolan Schafer drove in a pair of runs.

Palmer’s Landon Guggenmos went 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs. Bryant Marks continued his torrid tournament, going 2-for-3 with a double and four runs.

Koen Leaders went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs for the Pioneers (10-8).

In the nightcap, Buffalo blanked Wasilla 12-0.

Caleb Breuer was 2-for-2 with a triple, double and two RBIs. Justin Johnson went 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

Jack Henry pitched four scoreless innings.

Alex Bond, Karsen Spradling and Chase Sivulich had base hits for Wasilla (9-9).

Monday’s Title Game

McManus Field, Wasilla

Napoleon (OH) vs. Buffalo (MN) 12:00pm

Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament begins in Wasilla

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 2, 2022

The Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament got started at McManus Field in Wasilla with three games.

In the first game, the Buffalo Post 270 Cobras of Minnesota rallied to beat the Palmer Post 15 Pioneers in an 11-9 slugfest.

Buffalo scored four runs in the sixth inning to take the lead for the first time.

Justin Johnson and Evan Soeffker each went 3-for-4 and hit home runs. They also combined for five RBIs.

Eric Johnson had a base hit, an RBI and scored three runs for the Cobras (9-8).

Palmer’s Bryant Marks doubled, tripled and had two RBIs.

Landon Guggenmos and Brayden Parrent each had two base hits, including a double, and combined for three RBIs for the Pioneers.

In the second game, the Napoleon Post 300 River Bandits of Ohio beat up Wasilla Post 35 Road Warriors by a 23-0 score.

Napoleon’s pitching staff extended its scoreless streak to 28 games dating back to tournaments in Anchorage and Kenai.

Luke Krouse went 3-for-3 with five RBIs for the Bandits (26-3).

Tylor Yahraus and Abram Delano each had two hits and three RBIs.

In the third game, Palmer defeated Wasilla 12-7 in Valley grudge match.

The Pioneers plated seven runs in the first inning and never looked back.

Koen Leaders went 2-for-3 with four RBIs and Marks reached base three times and scored twice.

Malachi Mukaabya had an RBI double for Palmer (10-7).

For Wasilla, Colton Haase had two RBIs and two runs scored. Karsen Spradling went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

Alex Bond batted 2-for-3 with a double and RBI for the Road Warriors (9-8).

Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament @ Wasilla

Sunday’s Games

McManus Field, Wasilla

Napoleon (OH) vs. Palmer 12:00pm NL

Napoleon (OH) vs. Buffalo (MN) 3:00pm NL

Buffalo (MN) vs. Wasilla 6:00pm NL

Newman leads Bandits over Kenai 3-0 in Bill Miller final

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 30, 2022

If Napoleon Post 300 looked unbeatable at the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic, the River Bandits looked untouchable in Kenai.

The Ohio team outscored opponents 28-0 in four games of the Bill Miller Big Fish Wood Bat Tournament, capped by a 3-0 win over the Kenai Post 20 Twins at Oiler Park.

Napoleon improved to 4-1 in Bill Miller title games since 2008.

Bandits ace DJ Newman spun a 4-hit shutout with eight strikeouts on the bump and went 2-for-4 with a double and RBI in the box.

Earlier this week he was named Midseason Classic MVP. As an encore he was the MVP of the Bill Miller title game.

Newman is a NCAA Division I-bound player headed to Bowling Green State University.

The Bandits (25-3) have four D1 pitchers, and two of them didn't throw.

Nevertheless, Napoleon's staff was lights out in the tournament, recording four straight shutouts and building a 25-inning scoreless streak while improving to 9-0 on its Alaska road trip.

Here's a breakdown of the 25-inning scoreless streak:

  • 7 - DJ Newman
  • 7 - Jayden Jerger
  • 4 - Breven Deckrosh
  • 4 - Wade Liffick
  • 2 - Abram Deano
  • 1 - Dade Robinson

Newman and Nolan Shafer combined for four of Napoleon's five hits as Kenai pitchers Attitcus Gibson and John Brinner pitched well. Gibson started and allowed two runs in four innings, including two scoreless frames. Brinner came out of the bullpen and allowed just one run over two innings.

Malakai Olson, Jacob Belger, Gabe Smith and Hunter Williams had base hits for the Twins (10-8).

Next up for Napoleon will be the Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament at Wasilla, the third and final tournament of its Alaska tour.

NapoleonBillMiller1.jpg

Bill Miller Big Fish Wood Bat

Champions Since 2004

  • 2022 – Napoleon (OH)
  • 2021-2020 No Tournament
  • 2019 – Auburn (RI)
  • 2018 – Columbia (TN)
  • 2017 – Napoleon (OH)
  • 2016 – Columbia (TN)
  • 2015 – Castroville (TX)
  • 2014 – Rained out – Service (AK) vs. Columbia (TN)
  • 2013 – Texarkana (TX)
  • 2012 – Rained out – Kenai (AK) vs. Columbia (TN)
  • 2011 – Napoleon (OH)
  • 2010 - N/A
  • 2009 - West Warwick (RI)
  • 2008 - Napoleon (OH)
  • 2007 - N/A
  • 2006 - Tuscaloosa (AL)
  • 2005 - Niwot (CO)
  • 2004 - Gresham (OR)

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Buffalo (MN) beats Bartlett for 3rd place in Bill Miller

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 30, 2022

The Buffalo (MN) Post 270 Cobras came back to beat the Bartlett Post 29 Bears 9-2 in the third-place game of the Bill Miller Big Fish Wood Bat Tournament at Oiler Park.

Buffalo (8-8) trailed until the fourth inning as the bottom of the order orchestrated the comeback.

The team's 6-9 batters went a combined 7-for-13 with five RBIs and six runs scored.

Six-hole hitter Jack Henry was 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs; Max Hartke was 1-for-3 with three runs; Caleb Breuer was 1-for-3 with two RBIs and Caleb Schwartz was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run.

Buffalo pitchers - starter Caleb Johnson and relievers Brady Anderson and Evan Soeffker - held Bartlett off the scoreboard for the final six innings.

Bartlett's Carl Colavecchio went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs. John Grantier went 2-for-3 with a run; he also pitched 1.1 innings.

Colavecchio's base knock gave his team a 2-0 lead in the first inning, a lead the Bears (10-10) held until the fourth inning.

A day earlier, Colavecchio made his season debut on the mound with one inning of work out of the bullpen. The standout pitcher had been hurt since the spring and didn't pitch during the high school season.

Next up for Buffalo will be the Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament at Wasilla, the third and final tournament of its Alaska road trip. The Cobras are 3-6 so far, but two of those losses are to 25-3 Napoleon (OH).

While on the Kenai Peninsula, the team did some fishing and enjoyed themselves off the field. This is why so many teams come to The Last Frontier.

Sometimes it's about more than just baseball.

Kenai, Napoleon start 2-0 at Bill Miller Wood Bat

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 28, 2022

The Kenai Post 20 Twins pulled out two one-run wins while the Napoleon (OH) Post 300 River Bandits stayed unbeaten in Alaska on the first day of the three-day Bill Miller Big Fish Wood Bat Tournament at Oiler Park in Kenai.

The Twins edged Buffalo (MN) 5-4 with Daltyn Debroski scoring the winning run in the first of two games for Kenai. 

In the nightcap, Gabe Smith came out of the bullpen to throw six shutout to highlight a 3-2 win over Bartlett.

Napoleon - on the heels of winning the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic in Anchorage - continued its winning ways, improving to 7-0 on this trip in The Last Frontier.

The River Bandits blanked Buffalo (MN) 4-0 behind the 1-2 punch of pitcher Jayden Jerger and slugger Breven Deckrosh.

Jerger threw a 3-hit shutout and Deckrosh hit a home run, his third in six games in Alaska.

Napoleon beat Bartlett 10-0 in five innings on the strength of four shutout innings by Wade Liffick.

Game 1
Napoleon (OH) 4, Buffalo (MN) 0

Napoleon (22-3)
Jayden Jerger 7IP 3H 6K
Breven Deckrosh 2-3 HR 3RBI
Nolan Schafer 2-3 3B

Buffalo (6-7)
Taylor Morrissette 6.2IP
Justin Johnson 1-3 2B
Logan LaPlante 1-2 BB

Game 2
Napoleon (OH) 10, Bartlett 0

Napoleon (23-3)
Yylor Yahraus 3-4 2R
Breven Deckrosh 2-2 2B RBI
Wade Liffick 4IP 0H

Bartlett (10-7)
Nick Brandal 1-1 BB
Blake Blacho 4IP 3ER

Game 3
Kenai 6, Buffalo (MN) 5

Kenai (9-6)
Simon Grenier 1-1 2RBI
Daltyn Debroski 2-4 3B 2R
Atticus Gibson 3IP 1ER 

Buffalo (6-8)
Justin Johnson 2-4 2B RBI
Carson Schwartz 1-2 2B BB RBI
Broc Mutterer 4IP 0ER

Game 4
Kenai 3, Bartlett 2

Kenai (10-6)
Gabe Smith 6IP 0ER 5K
Charles Chamberlain 1-3 RBI
Jacob Belger RBI
Atticus Gibson 1-2 2B 2R

Bartlett (10-8)
Eli Corwin 6IP 2ER 6K
John Grantier RBI
Luke Helgeson 1-3 2B R BB

Napoleon holds off hard-charging Wolves for Classic title

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 26, 2022

Alaska 529 Midseason Classic @ Mulcahy Stadium Day 4 of 4

Game 17
Title Game
Napoleon (OH) 11, Eagle River 8

The Post 300 River Bandits made tournament history by winning a record fourth title in a slugfest victory to cap a 5-0 showing, beating the top Legion teams from Anchorage along the way.

Napoleon banged out 12 hits, scored in six of the seven innings and led from start to finish.

The team has now won Midseason Classic championships in 2022, 2019, 2013 and 2011 under longtime manager Randy Bachman.

Napoleon (21-3) was uncharacteristically sloppy defensively with five errors, but the River Bandits countered with five extra-base hits.

Breven Deckrosh provided the main power source, going 3-for-4 with a home run, double and three RBIs.

It was his second homer of the tournament, the first time that's happened since Kaleb Keith of Castroville (TX) in 2012.

Deckrosh had an RBI single in the first inning, a RBI doublein the fifth inning and a solo home run in the seventh inning.

Tylor Yahraus went 3-for-4 with an RBI and three runs, and Mark Butler was 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Butler's two-run double pushed Napoleon's lead to 10-2.

Napoleon's Luke Krouse had a pair of doubles and drove in a run, capping quite the day for the southpaw sensation.

Earlier in the day, he helped the River Bandits beat Service 8-1 in the semifinals as he carried a perfect game into the seventh inning. He lost his bid at history with one out in the final frame after Service's Sean Giffen doubled down the third-base line.

Napoleon had everything working, advancing to the tournament title game for the fifth time and improving to 27-5 at Mulcahy Stadium since 2005.

Eagle River made the title game interesting after the Wolves came alive with four runs in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth, bringing the tying run to the plate.

Noah Lower led the charge, going 4-for-4 with two RBIs. He singled in each of the first, third, fifth and sixth innings.

Back-to-back RBIs by Lower and Josh Thompson pulled Eagle River (14-2) within 10-8, cutting what was an eight-run deficit down to a deuce.

Eagle River was making its first appearance in the Midseason Classic championship game after winning its first four tournament games, including a 17-9 beat down of Chugiak in the semifinals held earlier in the day.

Alaska 529 Midseason Classic 
All-Time Champions

  • 2022– Napoleon (OH)
  • 2021-2020 No Tournament
  • 2019 – Napoleon (OH)
  • 2018 – South (AK)
  • 2017 – Walla Walla (WA)
  • 2016 – Columbia (TN)
  • 2015 – Castroville (TX)
  • 2014 – Columbia (TN)
  • 2013 – Napoleon (OH)
  • 2012 – Columbia (TN)
  • 2011 – Napoleon (OH)
  • 2010 – Dimond (AK)
  • 2009 – Chugiak (AK)
  • 2008 – Fairfield (CA)
  • 2007 – Chugiak (AK)
  • 2006 – Rained out - Tuscaloosa (AL)
  •  vs. Dothan (AL)
  • 2005 – Niwot (CO)
  • 2004 – West Warrick (RI)
  • 2003 – San Francisco (CA)
  • 2002 – Phoenix (AZ)
  • 2001 – West Warrick (RI)
  • 2000 – Lewiston (ID)
  • 1999 – Service (AK)
  • 1998 – Tacoma (WA)
  • 1997 – Chugiak (AK)
  • 1996 – Yakima (WA)
  • 1995 – Kennewick (WA)

Napoleon (OH) clinches Classic's final berth to semis

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 25, 2022

Alaska 529 Midseason Classic @ Mulcahy Stadium Day 3 of 4

Game 12
Napoleon (OH) 7, Dimond 1

We won't forget the name Jackson Bergman anytime soon after the big right-hander flirted with the tournament strikeout record in six dominating innings.

The 6-foot-6 pitcher racked up 13 strikeouts, one shy of the record set in 2011 by Zach Ferntheil of Service Post 28.

Bergman allowed three hits and one walk. He struck out the side in the third and fifth innings, and had two Ks in each of the first, second and fourth innings.

The River Bandits (19-3, 3-0 Pool A) banged out 11 hits and flexed some muscle with three doubles and a triple, with two of them coming on back-to-back at-bats.

DJ Newman went 3-for-3 with two doubles, two RBIs, a stolen base and three runs.

Tanner Rubenstein was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and Dan Schmetz was 2-for-3.

Napoleon can beat opponents many ways, like blasts or bloops. Or bunts.

Tylor Yahraus executed a sensational safety squeeze to drive in a run and make it 3-1 in the second inning. Newman's RBI double made it 4-1 in the fourth inning when the River Bandits pulled away.

Dimond flashed some glove love, turning a 5-2-3 double play to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning and getting nice catches from left fielder Eli Lipinski to end the second, third, and fourth innings.

Lipinski's best catch was a sliding grab near the warning track to rob slugger Breven Deckrosh of extra bases.

Catcher Kenton Cooke went 2-for-3 and threw out a runner trying to steal second for the Lynx (6-8, 0-3 Pool A).

Game 11
Napoleon(OH) 11, Chugiak 1

Nate Atkins pitched all five innings and Chase Clark drove in four runs, keyed by a three-run triple in the second inning. Clark, Ethan Steinke and Nolan Schafer each went 2-for-3.

Service survives Buffalo (MN) to advance to Classic semis

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 25, 2022

Alaska 529 Midseason Classic @ Mulcahy Stadium Day 3 of 4

Game 10
Service 5, Buffalo (MN) 4

Landon Martindale's two-run triple put the Cougars up in the sixth inning and Sean Giffen made it stick with a six-out save.

With the win, Service (10-4, 2-1 Pool B) clinched a spot in Sunday's semifinals while Buffalo will play in the fifth-place game.

Locked in a scoreless pitcher's duel through four innings, the teams warmed up the bats down the stretch.

There were three lead changes in three consecutive at-bats, first with Service taking a 2-0 lead only to see Buffalo storm back for a 4-2 lead only to see Service storm back to reclaim the lead for good.

Martindale mashed a shot over the right-fielder's head to score the go-ahead runs.

Giffen - the only high school graduate among the young Cougars - worked around a runner in scoring position in the sixth inning and wiggled out of a two-on jam in the seventh inning.

Buffalo (5-5, 1-2, Pool B) tied the game in the fifth inning on Justin Johnson's two-run double.

Johnson would later come around to score the go-ahead run followed by another run scored by Evan Soeffker that made it 4-2.

Jack Henry went 2-for-2 with an RBI for the Cobras.

Nine-hole hitter Zach Salonek made his tournament debut and went 2-for-2 with a double and sac bunt.
 

Midseason Classic: Eagle River punches ticket to semis

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 25, 2022

Alaska 529 Midseason Classic @ Mulcahy Stadium Day 3 of 4

Game 9
Eagle River 7, Buffalo (MN) 0

Pitcher Jack Molloy was marvelous, throwing a 1-hit shutout with five strikeouts as the Wolves punched their ticket to Sunday's semifinals.
Molloy was perfect through 11 batters, walked one and never allowed a runner to reach scoring position.
Liam Lierman continued his torrid tournament, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs. The Class of 2025 standout is now batting .727 in three games on 8-for-11 hitting with two triples and a double.
Josh Thompson was 2-for-3 with a RBI single in the fifth inning that gave Eagle River (13-1, 3-0 Pool B) a 4-0 lead.
The Wolves jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning with one run coming home on Landon Hudson's single and two on wild pitches.
Buffalo starter Evan Soeffker settled down and threw scoreless frames in the third and fourth inning.
Eagle River - the defending Legion state champion - extended its lead to 5-0 on Charlie Wallace's RBI and took a commanding 7-0 lead on Lierman's two-run triple.
This is Leirman's first taste of the Midseason Classic. His dad Bill played in the tournament's inaugural championship game in 1995 with Chugiak in a 5-4 loss to Kennewick (WA).
Buffalo (5-4, 1-1 Pool B) got its lone base hit from Justin Johnson with two outs in the fourth inning.
Johnson, the catcher, also threw out a runner trying to steal second base in the seventh inning.
Jack Henry drew an eight-pitch walk in the fifth inning and Brady Anderson tossed 2.2 innings of scoreless relief for the Cobras.
Eagle River won two games on Saturday, outscoring opponents 24-0.

Eagle River 17, West 0
Liam Lierman drove in four runs and Charlie Wallace pitched a five-inning shutout as the Wolves outhit West 15-1 in five innings.
Lierman finished 3-for-4, so did Jack Molloy, who added three RBIs. Alex Mullen batted 2-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs for Eagle River.
West's Liam Gunn had his team's lone base hit. Relief pitcher Paul Dittrich didn't allow an earned run in two innings for the Post 1 Eagles (5-11, 0-3 Pool B).

Midseason Classic Day 2: 5 games; Chugiak into semis

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 24, 2022

Napoleon (OH) 5, South 3

Wade Liffick drove in Dade Robinson with the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning in the first extra-inning game of the tournament.

Napoleon added another run when Liffick scored on a wild pitch to provide a two-run cushion.

Relief pitcher Jayden Jerger closed it out with a 1-2-3 bottom half of the eighth, ending the game on a flyout to right field.

Jerger pitched the final three innings, striking out five as the Napoleon staff combined for 13 Ks.

Starter DJ Newman had five and reliever Nate Adkins had three - all three coming in the fifth inning and all three called third strikes.

Liffick finished 3-for-4 for Napoleon (17-3, 1-0 Pool A), which got a home run from Breven Deckrosh.

Deckrosh drilled a laser over the left-field wall in a no-doubter that got out in a hurry.

South starter Garrett Gross was good. Better than good, Gross was great.

He struck out Deckrosh to end the sixth inning for his first K of the day.

Gross pitched 7.2 innings, holding a Napoleon team coming into the game hitting .346 to just one run over the first four innings. He followed that up with scoreless frames in the sixth and seventh innings.

Trailing 3-1, South struck for a pair of runs in the sixth inning to tie the game at 3.

It came on a blast and a bloop. First, Luke Ivanoff smoked an RBI double to left center and then Gavin Partch executed a beautiful bunt single to plate the tying run for the Wolverines (11-3, 1-1 Pool A).

Chugiak 6, South 1

Pitchers Tyler Cage, Preston Rau and Jayden Steckel combined on a 6-hitter and carried a shutout into the seventh inning.

The Mustangs struck for four runs at the plate in the top of the first inning and tied the tournament record by turning three double plays in the field.

Landon Luebke's two-run single gave Chugiak a 2-0 lead. Michael Boudreau's RBI groundout made it 3-0 and then Luebke scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-0.

The pitchers took it from there.

Cage started and threw 2.1 scoreless innings. Rau entered and threw 3.2 scoreless innings. Steckel closed it out with the final frame for the Mustangs (5-4, 1-0 Pool A).

South scratched out a run across in the seventh inning to avoid being blanked, which was kind of a big deal. The Wolverines have been shut out just one time in the last four seasons - in last year's Legion state title game.

Chugiak will settle for another milestone - first Alaska team not named Eagle River to beat South since Ketchikan defeated the Wolverines 9-4 on July 3, 2021, in Ketchikan.

The Mustangs turned three double plays in each of the first three innings, the first time that's happened in the tournament since 2014 when Columbia (TN) did it in the title game against South.

Chugiak third baseman Connor Lanehart was part of two twin killings, both 5-3 numbers when he fielded a grounder, stepped on the bag and fired across the diamond.

South's Jared Krison drove in the lone run for South (11-4, 1-2 Pool A), scoring Connor Lowe.

Chugiak 7, Dimond 6

Jayden Steckel drove in the winning run in the seventh inning with a sac fly and pitched the final frame for the save as the Mustangs punched their ticket to Sunday's semifinals.

Fischer Sims' two-run single put Chugiak up 5-4 in the seventh and Steckel's sac fly made it 7-4.

Relief pitcher Cam Costanios picked up the win with two innings of work. The hard-throwing southpaw was wild, but effective.

Other standouts for Chugiak (6-4, 2-0 Pool A) included Colter Thomas and Andrew Gruszynski.

Thomas, a mid-game substitute in right field, threw out a runner at the plate trying to score from second base in the seventh inning, preserving his team's 7-6 lead.

Gruszynski started the game in right field but moved to catcher in the fourth inning after Hunter Rau left with an apparent shoulder injury. Gruszynski ended the sixth inning after backpicking a runner off first base.

Dimond took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning after Alex Bruce singled in Eli Lipinski and later scored on a wild pitch.

Lipinski started on the mound and pitched 6.1 strong innings, striking out eight batters and picking off two baserunners.

In the fifth inning, Chugiak stormed back with three runs and went ahead 3-2 after Gruszynski doubled and scored on Costanios' RBI single.

Dimond (6-7, 0-2 Pool A) responded with a pair of runs to take a 4-3 lead, keyed by Chugiak errors. Pama Brito singled and scored and Miah Eneix walked and later scored.

Buffalo (MN) 11, West 0

Taylor Morrissette was masterful, striking out seven batters and allowing only one hit in four innings of work on a day when his team won in five.

Morrissette fanned five of first six batters and retired the first 10. He also had a four-pitch third inning.

The Post 270 Cobras (5-3, 1-0 Pool B) struck for eight runs with two outs in the first inning, highlighted by Broc Mutterer's two-run single, Logan LaPlante's two-run single and Caleb Brewer's two-run double.

Mutterer and Max Hartke each had three RBIs. Justin Johnson went 2-for-3 with a double.

West's Evan Fitzgerald had one of his team's two base hits and threw out a runner trying to steal second base.

Cyrus Clendaniel broke up Morrissette's no-hit bid with a soft single with one out in the fourth inning.

Relief pitcher Makai Baylous allowed just two runs over three innings for the Post 1 Eagles (5-9, 0-1 in Pool B).

He entered an 8-0 game and kept things respectable the rest of the way, throwing strikes and trusting his defense.

Service 13, West 0

Coen Niclai, Sebastian Fournier and Chase Mascelli each drove in two runs to lead an 8-hit attack.

Owen Hickeman and Landon Martindale combined to throw a five-inning shutout.

Hickman struck out five of the first nine batters he faced for Service (9-4, 1-1 Pool B).

Niclai now has five RBIs in two tournament games. Carson Maltby walked five times, scored three times and stole two bases.

Fournier finished 2-for-4 with a double, stolen bag and two runs.

Sean Giffen, Kolby Jensen and Hickman also had RBIs.

Cyrus Clendaniel and Michael Halpern banged out base hits for West (5-10, 0-2 Pool B).

Alaska 529 Midseason Classic

Pool A

2-0 Chugiak

1-0 Napoleon (OH)

1-2 South

0-2 Dimond

Pool B

1-0 Eagle River

1-0 Buffalo (MN)

1-1 Service

0-2 West

SCORES & SCHEDULE

THURSDAY

South 15, Dimond 13

Eagle River 9, Service 8

FRIDAY

@ Mulcahy Stadium

Buffalo (MN) 11, West 0

Service 13, West 0

Napoleon (OH) 5, South 3 (8)

Chugiak 6, South 1

Chugiak 7, Dimond 6

SATURDAY

@ Mulcahy Stadium

9:15am Eagle River vs. West

11:30am Eagle River vs. Buffalo (MN)

2:15pm Service vs. Buffalo (MN)

5:00pm Napoleon (OH) vs. Chugiak

7:30pm Napoleon (OH) vs. Dimond

SUNDAY

Consolation Games @ K fields

10:00am 7th Place Game B4 vs. A4 @K3

10:00am 5th Place Game A3 vs. B3 @K4

Championship Round @ Mulcahy

1:00pm Semifinals B2 vs. A1

3:30pm Semifinals A2 vs. B2

6:30pm Championship Game

Alaska 529 Midseason Classic Day 1 recap: 2 games

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 23, 2022

There was no such thing as a comfortable lead on Day 1 of the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic at Mulcahy Stadium.

South held off Dimond 15-13 after leading 15-7 in the seventh inning.

Eagle River survived Service 9-8 after leading 9-2 in the fourth inning.

Both winners improved to 1-0 in this the first of three pool-play games to set the table for Sunday’s championship round.

In Pool A, South’s Skylar Sugita went 2-for-2 with a double, two sac flies, three runs and three RBIs.

He also pitched four innings of relief to pick up the win.

Kaden Bevegni went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs. His double in the fifth inning gave South a 9-6 lead.

Isaac Johnson – better known for his pitching – flashed a hot bat with a 2-for-2 day with three RBIs.

South Post 4 (11-2, 1-0 Pool A) banged out six extra-base hits, including a triple by Ben Neuberger.

Dimond Post 21 (6-6, 0-1 Pool A) got RBIs from seven players, including Garrett Lick, who went 3-for-5 and drove in three runs.

Pama Brito went 2-for-2 with two RBIs and Miah Eneix added two RBIs.

The teams combined for 24 hits across seven innings and set a tournament record for most runs in a game.

In Pool B, Eagle River rode some two-out magic to hold off the Post 28 Cougars.

The Wolves scored seven runs with two outs, including three by Jack Molloy and two by Liam Lierman.

Molloy finished 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs. His two-run two bagger in the third inning gave Eagle River a 4-1 lead.

In the fourth inning, the Wolves (11-1, 1-0 Pool B) struck for five runs thanks to seven straight batters reaching base on six hits and a walk.

Noah Lower recorded a one-inning save, getting the final two outs with the tying run in scoring position.

Service’s Coen Niclai went 3-for-4 with a home run, double and three RBIs.

With his team down 9-2, he launched a rocket to left field to ignite a rally.

In the sixth inning, Carson Maltby and Nicali delivered back-to-back RBIs to get Service (8-4, 0-1 Pool B) within a run.

Alaska 529 Midseason Classic
Pool A

1-0 South
0-0 Dimond
0-0 Napoleon (OH)
0-1 Dimond
Pool B

1-0 Eagle River
0-0 Buffalo (MN)
0-0 West
0-1 Service


THURSDAY

South 15, Dimond 13

Eagle River 9, Service 8


FRIDAY
@ Mulcahy Stadium

9:15am Buffalo (MN) vs West

11:30am Service vs. West

2:15pm South vs. Napoleon (OH)

5:00pm South vs. Chugiak

7:30pm Dimond vs. Chugiak


SATURDAY

@ Mulcahy Stadium

9:15am Eagle River vs. West

11:30am Eagle River vs. Buffalo (MN) 

2:15pm Service vs. Buffalo (MN) 

5:00pm Napoleon (OH) vs. Chugiak

7:30pm Napoleon (OH) vs. Dimond


SUNDAY

@ Mulcahy Stadium

10:00 B4 vs. A4 (@K3)

10:00 A3 vs. B3 (@K4)

1:00pm Semifinals B2 vs. A1

3:30pm Semifinals A2 vs. B2

6:30pm Championship Game

Alaska 529 Midseason Classic features loaded field

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 22, 2022

The Alaska 529 Midseason Classic has a new sponsor and a new name, but the tournament remains the granddaddy of the Alaska Legion Baseball summer series.

It all gets started today with the first of four days at Mulcahy Stadium. The tournament wraps up with Sunday night's championship game.

Five of the eight teams in the field are former winners, giving this year’s event a ‘Tournament of Champions’ vibe.

The three-time champion Napoleon River Bandits of Ohio are back, looking to add to its collection of titles from 2019, 2013 and 2011.

They will be joined by fellow three-time winner Chugiak, the only team from Alaska with multiple titles (2009, 2007, 1997).

Other winners from The Last Frontier that are in this year's field include South (2018), Dimond (2010) and Service (1999).

Rounding out this year’s field will be the Buffalo Cobras of Minnesota in addition to West and defending Alaska state champion Eagle River.

Alaska 529 Midseason Classic
Past Winners

2021-2020 No Tournament
2019 – Napoleon (OH)
2018 – South (AK)
2017 – Walla Walla (WA)
2016 – Columbia (TN)
2015 – Castroville (TX)
2014 – Columbia (TN)
2013 – Napoleon (OH)
2012 – Columbia (TN)
2011 – Napoleon (OH)
2010 – Dimond (AK)
2009 – Chugiak (AK)
2008 – Fairfield (CA)
2007 – Chugiak (AK)
2006 – Tuscaloosa (AL)
            Dothan (AL)
2005 – Niwot (CO)
2004 – West Warrick (RI)
2003 – San Francisco (CA)
2002 – Phoenix (AZ)
2001 – West Warrick (RI)
2000 – Lewiston (ID)
1999 – Service (AK)
1998 – Tacoma (WA)
1997 – Chugiak (AK)
1996 – Yakima (WA)
1995 – Kennewick (WA)

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Bartlett captures Midnight Sun Tournament title

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 20, 2022

Bartlett Post 29 won the Midnight Sun Tournament with a 12-2 win over Fairbanks Post 11 in the title game.

John Grantier pitched six inningsand drove in two runs in a player-of-the-game performance.

He scattered six hits and one walk while striking out a half dozen.

The Golden Bears improved to 7-5 on the season, a huge improvement for a team that has averaged just 4.4 wins over the last five years.

Luke Helgeson and Corey Gagnebin each went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Connor Sessoms went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, and Wyatt Rust was 2-for-3 with a run.

Dylan Swarthout of Fairbanks pitched five innings and recorded a base hit.

Grant Swarthout was 2-for-2 with a run and RBI, and Chris Luskleet also had an RBI.

The Midnight Sun Tournament is the first of four stops on the Alaska Airlines Tournament Tour. Next up is the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic, which starts Thursday and runs through Sunday night's championship  game.

After that the Tour goes to Kenai for the Bill Miller Big Fish Wood Bat Tournament and then the Todd Ryan Memorial tournament in Wasilla.

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Legion camp all-stars lose 8-0 to Anchorage Bucs, Diaz

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 16, 2022

Santa Clara slugger Michael Diaz homered and drove in three runs to power the Anchorage Bucs to an 8-0 victory over the Legion camp all-stars in the annual Sladen Mohl Game at Mulcahy Stadium.

The left-handed hitting Diaz launched a moon shot to right field in the fifth inning that landed on the Kosinski field beyond the wall and across the street. It was impressive.

The only other extra-base hit of the game came off the bat of another Santa Clara batter in Jon Jon Berring, who ripped a two-run double over the right-fielder’s head in the seventh inning.

The Bucs of the Alaska Baseball League scored five runs in the final two innings. Before that, however, the Legion all-stars battled to keep the game close.

The game was a culmination of the four-day College Coaches Camp, which celebrated its 28th year.

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Eli Lipinski of Dimond Post 21 and Liam Lierman of Eagle River each threw scoreless frames and each recorded a strikeout – the only two Ks for the Legion staff.

Andrew Hickman of East Post 34 retired the only batter he faced to end the fifth inning.

Eagle River’s Alex Mullen could have thrown a scoreless frame but a two-out error with the bases loaded led to a pair of unearned runs.

It was the only error of the game.

Bucs starter Peyton Stiers from Parkland Community College was sensational, pitching four hitless innings and facing the minimum of 12 batters. He racked up five strikeouts, four of them looking.

The only baserunner Stiers allowed was a leadoff walk to Lierman to open the game, but Lierman was easily erased trying to steal second base by Oklahoma State-bound catcher Derek Smith, a 2022 high school grad from Scottsdale, Arizona.

For Lierman, playing in the game for the first time carried special significance as the College Coaches Camp is named after his grandfather Bill Lierman Sr. and the camp director is his father Bill Lierman Jr.

Stiers gave way to reliever Chandler Brooks, who closed it out for a three-inning save.

Dimond’s Shane Stephan delivered the Legion team’s lone base hit with one down in the fifth inning, hitting a slow roller deep in the hole for an infield single. It was a clean hit.

The Bucs featured several familiar faces in former Legion players Reid Brock, Ricky Gatter and Dylan Maltby.

Brock played the whole game at second base and went 0-for-1 with two walks, including an 11-pitch battle with his former teammate Gavin Partch of South Post 4.

Gatter went the whole way at shortstop and made two beautiful plays, including one in the hole to rob Palmer Post 15’s Brayden Parrent of a base hit in the third inning.

Maltby played the entire game at third base and made several slick, on-the-move throws, and robbed Chugiak Post 33’s Hunter Rau of a base hit in the sixth inning.

For the Legion all-stars, right fielder Carl Colavecchio of Bartlett Post 28 and Lierman both made web gems with nice catches on the run.

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Fairbanks camp all-stars drop 9-3 decision to Panners

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 15, 2022

Cooper Irinaga and Bailey Layral drove in runs and Shawn Conwell pitched a clean inning for the Legion camp all-stars during a 9-3 exhibition loss to the Fairbanks Goldpanners at Growden Park.

The Goldpanners banged out 12 hits and got six strong innings from pitcher Jake Taylor, who also had an RBI.

The game was a culmination of the two-day College Coaches Camp in Fairbanks, featuring players from North Pole Post 30 Wild and the Fairbanks Post 11 49ers.

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Hunter Clements led the Legion all-stars with a 3-for-4 effort. Irinaga and Layral had RBIs to fuel a two-run frame in the sixth inning.

Taylor scattered seven hits and three runs while striking out 10.

Conwell started for the Legion all-stars and pitched a scoreless first inning. Reliever Chris Luskleet took the loss.  

Among the Panners with base hits were former Legion players Alex Garcia and Alex Troppman.

The annual Midnight Sun Tournament begins late tonight, with the Wild hosting the 49ers at 12:05 a.m. at Arco Field.

Jessee caps historic season out of Gonzaga bullpen

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 13, 2022

Brody Jessee’s sophomore season at Gonzaga University was historic by Alaska baseball standards.

There were incredible individual performances like his 10 strikeouts against Pepperdine and his lights-out outing at fourth-ranked Oklahoma State.

There were also accomplishments like his 48 strikeouts on the season, tied for seventh on Alaska’s all-time top 10 list among players at the NCAA Division I level.

His 18 appearances, 1.53 WHIP and 4 wins were also good enough to break into the top 10 while he just missed with a 4.58 ERA, which he trimmed by a full run over the final month of the season.

Jessee played a pivotal role on a 37-19 Zags team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament and was eliminated in the Blacksburg Regional.

The hard-throwing reliever ranked second on the team with 18 appearances, illustrating his importance coming out of the Zags’ bullpen.

He showcased a 97-mph heater against Oklahoma State, mowing through the order on his way to racking up seven Ks in 3.2 inning and earning the win a 2-1 victory in one of the greatest pitching performances by an Alaskan on the college stage.

A month later he registered a career-high 10 strikeouts against Pepperdine – the first Alaskan to record double-digit Ks against a Division 1 opponent since Sitka’s Matt Way of Washington State had 12 against Washington in 2009.

Jessee finished with 48 strikeouts in 35.1 innings, one more than Anchorage’s Brian Montalbo had with Cal-Berkeley in 2001 and seventh on the all-time list.

MOST STRIKEOUTS BY ALASKAN IN NCAA DIVISION I SEASON
124 – Matt Way (Sitka) Washington State 2009
76 – Corey Madden (East) St. Mary’s 2006
69 – Anton Maxwell (East) Oregon State 2005
68 – Matt Way (Sitka) Washington State 2008
62 – Chad Bentz (Juneau-Douglas) Long Beach State 2001

Last season, he cracked the top-5 with 4 saves. This year, he cracked the top-10 in wins and appearances.

In just two seasons, Jessee has established himself as one of the best college pitchers from Alaska.

He is one of three guys from the state – joining Matt Way and Kenai’s Mike Smith – to collect 7 wins and 4 saves at the Division 1 level.

Jessee ranks ninth all-time with 36 appearances and seventh with a 4.69 ERA.

Most impressive, though, is how quickly he’s climbed into the top-5 on Alaska’s all-time strikeout list. Jessee already ranks No. 4 and is the only reliever on the list, surrounded by MLB Draft picks.

MOST STRIKEOUTS BY ALASKAN IN NCAA DIVISION I CAREER
239 – Matt Way (Sitka) Washington State 2006-2009
134 – Brian Montalbo Cal-Berkeley (Dimond) 2001-2003
114 – Anton Maxwell (East) Oregon State 2005-2007
*85 – Brody Jessee (South) Gonzaga 2021-2022
84 – Corey Madden (East) St. Mary’s 2005-2006
*-Active

Hebert named Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 7, 2022

South has turned into a baseball factory and senior Curtis Hebert is the latest star to earn Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year honors.

This makes five winners in seven years for the Wolverines.

The NCAA Division I signee at Portland produced an outstanding season on the mound, behind the dish and at the plate to help South finish 26-0 and capture a second straight state championship.

South also extended its state-record winning streak to 44 games dating back to 2019 when he was a freshman in high school.

Hebert won state player-of-the-year honors, threw the 15th no-hitter in Cook Inlet Conference history and matched the conference record with eight RBIs in one game.

At pitcher, Hebert posted a 4-0 record with one save in six appearances and a 0.00 ERA in 26 innings. He struck out 46 batters and walked 20.

The right-hander didn’t allow a base hit on the season until the second inning of the state title game, ending a hitless streak of 20.2 innings.

Hebert batted .429 batting on 30-of-70 hitting in 26 games. He drove in 27 runs, scored 22 and stole 22 bags. He had 10 extra-base hits, including a pair of home runs.

His versatility and efficiency are what separate him from the other players in the state.

Hebert’s future might be at catcher, where he has developed nicely and has a rocket of an arm. His throws on stolen-base attempts are so precise his infielders barely have to move their glove.

Hebert started catching when he was 13 but played the position off and on until this year.

He credited former MLB draft pick Johnny Meszaros of Anchorage for accelerating his progression over the last two years.

Gatorade Alaska Baseball Player of the Year
2022 – Curtis Hebert, South
2021 – Dylan Maltby, South
2020 – Leland Wilson, West
2019 – Jacob Woodall, South
2018 – Michael Cesar, Juneau-Douglas
2017 – Jonny Homza, South
2016 – Jonny Homza, South
2015 – Nathan Bonck, Ketchikan
2014 – Scooter Bynum, Monroe Catholic
2013 – Erickson Fish, Sitka
2012 – Zach Ferntheil, Service
2011 – Adam Manzer, West
2010 – Dylan Baker, Juneau-Douglas
2009 – Ross Venneberg, Sitka
2008 – Joe Kohan, Juneau-Douglas
2007 – Ryan Skillern, South
2006 – Chad Nading, East
2005 – Zach Mixson, Juneau-Douglas
2004 – Craig Thibodeaux, Chugiak
2003 – Anton Maxwell, East
2002 – Antoine McLeod, East
2001 – Corey Madden, East
2000 – Brian Montalbo, Dimond
1999 – Chad Bentz, Juneau-Douglas

Alaska 529 returns as premier sponsor

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 5, 2022

Alaska 529 is an education savings plan designed to make it easy for families and friends to save for education in and out of Alaska. Their new incentive programs Dash to Save and Dash to Save More offer unique benefits that are aimed at reducing the burden of paying for higher education.

For more than 20 years they have been committed to providing families with the tools for success when it comes to Alaska's youth and that is exactly why we are grateful for their sponsorship of Alaska Legion Baseball. 

While it may seem like our focus is on the ballfield, the goal of our organization is to provide after school and summer programs that will provide Alaska's youth with the life skills that will help them succeed in whatever path they choose.

We also strive to open as many doors as possible for players to continue playing baseball at the next level and potentially earn a scholarship towards a higher education. With this goal in mind The Alaska 529 became the perfect organization to partner with and what better way to highlight our common goals than to award players with the Alaska 529 Smart Play/Player of the Game.  

This award is given to one player from each team during each live streamed game, which can be watched on www.alaskalegion.com.  

Alaska 529 Midseason Classic is back and better than ever. With the continued support of Alaska 529, we are excited to announce that this year's Alaska Legion AA tournament will feature six of the top teams from the state as well as teams from Buffalo, Minnesota; and Napoleon, Ohio.  

This year's field is sure to turn up the heat for the last weekend in June.

We want to thank Alaska 529 for all they do for families across the state and especially for their continued support of Alaska Legion Baseball.

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State Tournament Title Game: South 6, Sitka 0

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 4, 2022

Curtis Hebert pitched a complete-game gem and the Wolverines capped a 26-0 season with a 6-0 victory over Sitka in the championship game of the ASAA Division I state tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

With the win, South pushed its state-record winning streak to 44 games and secured the Cook Inlet Conference team's second straight championship and fifth in school history.

Hebert tossed a 4-hitter with eight strikeouts, needing 117 pitches to record 21 outs.

He retired nine of the first 11 batters and eight of the final nine in a dominating performance. He allowed only one runner to third base, and that was because of a balk.

Five different South players had RBIs and the Wolverines scored in each of the final four frames to pull away from the Southeast Conference champions.

Hebert drove in the game-winning run as well with a third-inning groundout that made it 1-0. Ben Neuberger added another RBI groundout to make it 2-0.

A sac fly by Kaden Bevegni in the fourth inning pushed South's advantage to 3-0.

Neuberger doubled to open the fifth inning to signal the end of the road for Sitka starter Bryce Calhoun, a freshman who didn't wilt under pressure.

The slow-throwing southpaw mixed breaking balls beautifully to keep the Wolverines off balance and give the Wolves (15-8) a chance.

It never happened.

Hebert snuffed it out, shutting down a Sitka offense that had scored 20 runs over the first two games of the state tournament. The right-hander got stronger as the game went and racked up more strikeouts in the second half of the game, including five of the last eight batters.

Calhoun pitched four innings and kept South off the scoreboard in the first two innings, getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the first thanks to a 4-6-3 double play. He in the second inning he got Oliver Brown to ground out with a runner in scoring position. No small task.

In the end, South just had too much. Too much pitching, too much hitting, too much depth. Not just for Sitka, but the entire state of Alaska.

State Tournament 3rd Place: Colony 14, Chugiak 7

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 4, 2022

Koen Leaders went 4-for-4 and Drake Gallagher drove in four runs as Colony doubled up Chugiak 14-7 in the third-place game of the ASAA Division I state tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Colony banged out 12 hits and improved to 3-1 against Chugiak all-time at the state tournament dating back to 2009.

Leaders, Colton Haase and Brayden Parrent also had two RBIs for the Knights (12-6).

Colony had four extra-base hits as Nate Wilson, Leaders, Gallagher and Karsen Spradling doubled, and Bryant Marks tripled.

Chugiak got doubles from Andrew Gruszynski, Hunter Rau, Tyler Cage and Landon Luebke.

Cage's RBI single tied the game at 3 in the third inning. Gruszynski, a center fielder, threw out a runner at the plate for the Mustangs (14-9).

State Tournament 4th Place: Ketchikan 5, Wasilla 1

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 4, 2022

Jesse Loughman pitched a 108-pitch complete game with eight strikeouts and got two double plays behind him as Ketchikan beat Wasilla 5-1 in the fourth-place game of the ASAA Division I state tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Loughman scattered seven hits and two walks and gave up his lone run in the fifth inning, when the Warriors had a runner reach third base for the first time in the game.

Van McGarrigan, Kyle Klinger and Max Malouf had RBIs for the Kings (17-7).

This game was a rematch of the 2019 state title game won by Wasilla, 8-6.

Wasilla's Jace Crall and Logan Bean each went 2-for-4 and combined for their team's lone run with Crall knocking in Bean.

Reliever Colton Savala threw three scoreless frames, third baseman Alex Bond turned a 5-3 double play after catching a liner and catcher Pedro Camacho make a slick bare-handed snag on a pop up for the Warriors (16-8).

State Tournament Semifinals: South 7, Colony 1

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 3, 2022

NCAA Division 1 signees Oliver Brown and Curtis Hebert each had two hits, a two-bagger and two RBIs to spearhead a Wolverines’ offense that continues to be in sync as seven different players recorded base hits.

Brown, who is headed to Holy Cross in the Patriot League, played his usually steady game at shortstop, in the box and on the bases. He has a smoothness about his game, making the tough plays look easy.

Take the grounder he fielded in the second inning when he threw a bull’s-eye of a throw on the move, off one leg. Later in the frame he doubled and later scored from third base on a wild pitch, just beating the play at the plate.

He added a two-out, two-run single in the third inning that made it 7-1, scoring Hebert and Ben Neuberger.

Undefeated defending state champion South (25-0) extended its state-record winning streak to 43 games and will play in Saturday’s state title game against Sitka (15-7).

South’s early-strike offense was the perfect complement to the pitching of starter Luke Ivanoff and reliever Gavin Partch, who danced around trouble all night as Colony left 10 runners on base.

Ivanoff scattered six hits and four walks over six innings. His catcher, Hebert, threw out a baserunner at second base and Ivanoff turned a double play after catching a line drive and doubling up the runner at first base. Ivanoff also escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third, and Partch wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth.

Colony's Karsen Spradling went 3-for-4 and scored on Bryant Marks' two-out single in the third inning.

Knights' starter Koen Leaders went the whole way and kept South off the scoreboard in each of the final three innings, including a five-pitch sixth inning.

The Colony defense produced several web gems by the catcher (Marks), first baseman (Malachi Mukaabya), center fielder (Nate Wilson) and left fielder (Colton Haase). 

Colony (11-6).will play in tomorrow's third-place game against Chugiak (14-8).

State Tournament Semifinals: Sitka 12, Chugiak 3

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 3, 2022

Dylan Marx doubled, tripled and drove in five runs to lead Sitka’s 9-hit attack as the Wolves came alive late to pull away from Chugiak 12-3 in the semifinals of the ASAA Division I state tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Marx finished 4-for-6 and scored three runs to help Sitka reach the state final for the first time since 2017. The Wolves ranks No. 2 in Alaska high school baseball history with five championships, one behiond archrival Juneau-Douglas.

Sitka (15-7) will play in tomorrow’s state final against the winner of the other semifinal between South and Colony.

Sitka trailed 3-1 going into the sixth inning before turning the game on its head, kickstarted by Marx’s three-run, bases-clearing triple to put the Wolves ahead for good. He scored on a balk to make it 5-3.

The Wolves weren’t done feasting on the Mustangs, chewing up three relief pitchers for seven runs in the seventh inning. Marx again came up big with a two-run double. At one point, five straight Sitka batters recorded RBI.

Sitka starter Grady Smith was sensational, throwing a 90-pitch complete game with five scoreless frames. He ended the game by retiring nine of the final 12 batters.

Marx didn’t just swing a smoking hot bat he also made the defensive play of the game in the sixth inning when he threw out a Chugiak baserunner from right field trying to go first to third base.

Chugiak led 3-1 after five innings.

Michael Boudreau went 2-for-3 and scored a run. Fischer Sims and Gabe Gruszynski each singled and scored.

Mustangs' starter Landon Luebke allowed one unearned run in the first 3.2 innings and worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third inning.

The Mustangs turned two double plays, including an 8-3 twin killing after center fielder Andrew Gruszynski caught a flyout and doubled up the runner at first base, beating the runner trying to score from third base to negate a run.

Chugiak (14-8) will play in tomorrow's third-place game.

State Tournament Consolation: Wasilla, Ketchikan win

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 3, 2022

Wasilla 8, Eagle River 7

Logan Bailey scored from third base on Pedro Camacho’s bunt with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning as Wasilla walked off with an 8-7 victory over Eagle River in consolation action on Day 2 of the ASAA Division I state tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Wasilla scored two runs in the seventh inning after Eagle River had scored two runs in the top of the seventh.

The game featured six lead changes.

Bailey, who got the win in relief, doubled and scored on Camacho’s RBI single to five Wasilla a 6-5 lead in the fifth inning.

In the seventh, Eagle River took a 7-6 lead after Dallin Roberts and Noah Lower walked and later scored. Roberts scored on a passed ball and Lower came home on Landon Hudson’s groundout.

Camacho went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and threw out a baserunner from behind the plate. Bailey went 2-for-4 with two runs and Jace Crall had two RBIs.

Eagle River’s Alex Mullen had three RBIs, Josh Thompson went 2-for-4 and Lower scored twice and made a beautiful bare-handed grab on Alex Bond’s chopper to short and threw him out.

Wasilla (16-7) advanced to Saturday’s fourth-place game. Eagle River (15-6) saw its season come to a close. The teams split their two-game series this season.

Ketchikan 10, Service 9

Kegan Moore's two-run double in the sixth inning proved to be the difference as Ketchikan rallied from a six-run deficit in an 10-9 victory over Service in consolation action on Day 2 of the ASAA Division I state tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Down 6-0 entering the bottom of the fourth inning, the Kings caught fire with a 10-run rally over the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

Van McGarrigan had an RBI triple and two-run double in the come-from-behind win in the first-ever meeting in high school baseball between Service and Ketchikan.

Ketchikan tied the game at 6 on Kyle Congdon's bases-loaded walk, then scored a run on a wild pitch and another on a passed ball before Moore's two-out, two-run single to make it 10-6. Moore also got the win in relief.

Service pulled within 10-8 in the seventh inning on Landon Martindale's two-run triple and got within 10-9 on Sebastian Fournier's RBI bloop single.

The Cougars' bullpen blew it for starter Owen Hickman, who carried a shutout into the fourth inning and left with a 6-1 lead.

Ketchikan (16-7) has advanced to the fourth-place game against Wasilla (16-7) in a rematch of the 2019 state title game.

Service - a team with zero upperclassmen - lost both games at the state tournament by one run to finish the season 12-8.

State Tournament Quarterfinals: South 11, Ketchikan 1

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 2, 2022

Isaac Johnson spun a six-inning 2-hitter and the Wolverines ended the game early after scoring six runs in the sixth to wrap up Day 1 of the ASAA Division I state tournament with an 11-1 victory at Mulcahy Stadium.

Johnson allowed the first three batters to reach and fell behind 1-0 on a sac fly before going in shutdown mode. He allowed only two baserunners the rest of the way, tossing shutout frames over the final five innings. He struck out seven and pushed his personal record to 8-0.

South extended its state-record winning streak to 42 games and will play in Friday’s semifinals against Colony in a rematch of last year’s state title game.

Oliver Brown and Ben Neuberger each drove in three runs for South (24-0) while Sean Giffen had two RBIs and Carson Maltby and A.J. Sawicki had one RBI.

Catcher Curtis Hebert went 2-for-2 with a triple, two runs and a beautiful head-first dive to grab a pop up behind the plate.

Brown's two-run triple in the sixth inning made it 8-1. Brown also drove in a run on a sac fly - one of three by South; the others came on flyouts by Neuberger and Maltby.

Ketchikan (15-7) came into the game hitting .317 as a team but hit the wall against Johnson, going 2-for-20 against the right-handed ace.

Colby Hanchey doubled and scored his team's lone run. He also pitched five innings, getting glove love from his catcher, Dylan Nedzwecky, who threw out a baserunner in the first and third innings.

State Tournament Quarterfinals: Chugiak 7, Wasilla 5

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 2, 2022

Jayden Steckel drove in two runs and pitched a three-out save to help Chugiak defeat Wasilla 7-5 on Day 1 of the ASAA Division I state tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

The game featured six lead changes, with the Mustangs plating two runs in the top of the seventh to pull ahead for good.

Chugiak Tyler Cage and Fischer Sims set the table for the seventh-inning rally and Gabe Gruszynski and Seth Strange knocked in the go-ahead and insurance runs.

Strange, the nine-hole hitter, reached base three times, scored two runs and had an RBI for the Mustangs (14-7).

Starting pitcher Preston Rau racked up the win with six strong innings, scattering eight hits.

His battery mate Hunter, who doubles as his younger brother, threw out two baserunners behind the plate and the Mustangs turned a 6-3-5 double play.

Wasilla (15-7) got two RBIs apiece from Pedro Camacho and Alex Bond. Camacho had run-scoring base knocks in the first and third innings. Bond's two-run single tied the game at 5 in the sixth inning.

Steckel ended the game after getting back-to-back outs with the tying run on first base.

State Tournament Quarterfinals: Sitka 8, Eagle River 6

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 2, 2022

Dylan Marx drove in the tying run in the sixth inning and threw a shutout frame in the seventh inning to seal the deal and secure Sitka’s 8-6 victory on Day 1 of the ASAA Division I state tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Sitka rallied from a 6-4 deficit in the bottom of the sixth with a four spot, capped by Tanner Stinson’s two-out, two-run single.

Sitka (14-7) has advanced to the state semifinals for the first time since 2017.

The Wolves had three players with two hits in Marx, Nik Calhoun and Chance Coleman. Coleman, the nine-hole hitter, added an RBI and run.

Calhoun pitched five innings, allowing just two hits while racking up a half dozen strikeouts. The right-hander dominated the first four innings and retired 10 straight at one point.

Meanwhile, the offense was doing its part, building a 3-0 lead through four innings on the strength of RBIs from Bridger Bird and Coleman.

Eagle River (15-5) scratched across a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning and Sitka answered with a run in the bottom half.

The sixth inning was crazy, with each side making a comeback.

Eagle River scored two runs and got the benefit of two bang-bang plays on fielder's choice to extend the inning. That's when nine-hole hitter Charlie Wallace ripped a two-out, two-run single on the eighth pitch of the at-bat to put the CIC power ahead 6-4.

A year ago, Eagle River beat Sitka 12-1 in the first round of state. With the Wolves storming back to take the lead, it looks like maybe Eagle River just had Sitka's number.

It didn't happen.

Sitka flipped the script with a barrage of base hits in the bottom of the sixth, highlighted by two-run base knocks by Marx and Stinson.

State Tournament Quarterfinals: Colony 5, Service 4

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 2, 2022

Bryant Marks led off the eighth inning with a triple and scored on Brayden Parrent's RBI single as Colony survived and advanced after edging Service 5-4 in extra innings on Day 1 of the ASAA Division I state tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Marks and Parrent combined for all five RBIs and relief pitcher Zephon Rhowmine picked up the win with 1.2 innings.

Marks was 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs after his bases-loaded double in the third inning gave Colony a 3-0 lead.

Parrent was the next batter and singled in Marks to make it 4-0. That combo came up clutch again in the eighth inning to push Colony (11-5) into Friday's final four.

Parrent finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs while Colton Haase, Karsen Spradling and Koen Leaders scored runs.

Haase started on the mound and threw 6.1 innings on 100 pitches. He scattered four hits and six walks while striking out four.

Service (12-7) forced extra innings after scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh, keyed by Jake Rafferty's two-run double on an 0-2 count.

The Cougars tied the game when Rafferty scored on a two-out error.

Rafferty was remarkable, striking out 10 in five innings. At one point he struck out five straight batters. The big right-hander also struck out the side in the second and fourth innings.

His only hiccup came in the third inning after he loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batsman to bring up Marks, who left a mark with his extra-base knock.

Rafferty's 2-hit, 3-RBI, 10-strikeout performance was strong. His double-digit Ks was the most at the ASAA D1 state tournament since 2018 when South's Gage Webster had 13 Ks and Ketchikan's Cody Kemble had 10.

Michael Sculley pitched two innings of scoreless relief and Hunter Christian retired three straight batters with Parrent standing on second base in the eighth inning to thwart further damage.

State Tournament: Day 1 preview, stat leaders, trivia

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 1, 2022

There are no gimmies in the first round of the ASAA Division I baseball state tournament.

All four first-round matchups pack a punch as the road to the championship begins Thursday at Mulcahy Stadium.

The most intriguing opener pits defending state champion South Anchorage (23-0) against Southeast power Ketchikan (15-6) in a marvelous matchup between title contenders.

The Wolverines feature NCAA Division I signees Curtis Hebert (Portland) and Oliver Brown (Holy Cross) and are riding a state-record 41-game winning streak that dates back to 2019.

Hebert is an elite pitcher, catcher and hitter who was named CIC MVP after rewriting the record book. He pitched the 15th no-hitter in league history and tied the league’s single-game RBI record of 8.

The right-hander hasn’t allowed an earned run in 19 innings on the mound. At the plate, he’s batting .403 on 25-of-62 hitting with 2 home runs and 24 RBIs in 23 games.

Brown is a sharp shortstop and skillful baserunner who is batting .371 on 23-of-62 hitting with 32 runs, 26 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. A closer on the mound, he posted a 1-0 record and two saves with a 0.00 ERA and 11 strikeouts in seven innings.

South pitchers Isaac Johnson (0.41 ERA, 38 IP) and Luke Ivanoff (0.71 ERA, 28.1 IP) have combined to go 13-0 this year. Meanwhile, Ketchikan counters with a terrific trio of Van McGarrigan (2.49 ERA, 50.2 IP), Jesse Loughman (4.14 ERA, 44.0 IP) and Colby Hanchey (2.58 ERA, 35.1 IP).

Ketchikan is hitting .317 as a team to fuel an offense averaging 8.1 runs per game. Big bats Dylan Nedzwecky (.469 BA, 35 RBIs) and Loughman (.348 BA, 31 RBIs) lead the way while table setter Hanchey (.330 BA, 44 runs) has made 124 plate appearances this year – more than some varsity kids get in a career.

South and Ketchikan have met twice previously at the state tournament, with South winning in 2018, Ketchikan in 2012.

 

Schedule Change

ASAA made a slight change to the schedule, flipping time slots of the first two matchups to accommodate Sitka’s late-arriving travel. As a result, Colony/Service was moved to 10 a.m. and Sitka/Eagle River will now play at 1 p.m.

First National Bank Alaska

ASAA Division I State Tournament

At Mulcahy Stadium

10am - Colony (10-5) vs. Service (12-6)

1pm - Sitka (13-7) vs. Eagle River (15-4)

4pm - Wasilla (15-6) vs. Chugiak (13-7)

7pm - Ketchikan (15-6) vs. South (23-0)

 

Other First Round Previews

  • Colony is making its fifth straight appearance at state while Service is back for the first time since 2017. This matchup is a clash of styles as Colony wins with offense and Service wins with defense. The Knights are led by Koen Leaders (.403 BA, 23 RBIs, 1.69 ERA) and Brayden Parrent (.409 BA, 22 RBIs). The Cougars, who received the lone at-large berth, own a .963 team fielding percentage. Owen Hickman (.409 BA) is one of five starters with a .600+ on-base percentage. Colony and Service have never met at the state tournament.
  • Sitka and Eagle River will square off in the first round of state for the second straight year. Eagle River won last year’s meeting 12-1 for the team’s first victory in just its second appearance at the state tournament. This game has serious star power between Sitka’s Nick Calhoun (.471 BA, 32 SB) and Eagle River’s Noah Lower (.365 BA, 0.81 ERA). Sitka, the smallest school in the Division I field, has won 24 of 31 games all-time at state for a .774 winning percentage.
  • Wasilla and Chugiak both finished the season on a tear, ripping off identical 7-2 records over the final nine games. Will Plowman (.455 BA) and Pedro Camacho (24 RBIs) are top hitters for Wasilla, which averages 9.6 runs per game and has four players with 20 RBIs or more. Chugiak’s Jayden Steckel (.444 BA), Michael Boudreau (.342 BA) and Hunter Rau (22 RBIs) spearhead the offense. Steckel also went 4-2 on the mound and a steady third baseman. Wasilla beat Chugiak 13-1 in the semifinals of the 2019 state tournament, their only other postseason meeting.

 

Notable Stat Leaders

BATTING AVERAGE

.471 (32-68) – Nik Calhoun, Sitka

.469 (45-96) – Dylan Nedzwecky, Ketchikan

.455 (20-44) – Will Plowman, Wasilla

.444 (20-45) – Jayden Steckel, Chugiak

.429 (21-49) – Bridger Bird, Sitka

.412 (21-51) – Ben Neuberger, South

.409 (18-33) – Owen Hickman, Service

.409 (27-66) – Brayden Parrent, Colony

.403 (25-62) – Curtis Hebert, South

.403 (25-62) – Koen Leaders, Colony

.381 (16-42) – Drake Gallagher, Colony

.377 (20-53) – Bryant Marks, Colony

.371 (23-62) – Oliver Brown, South

.365 (19-52) – Noah Lower, Eagle River

.364 (12-33) – Jack Molloy, Eagle River

.358 (19-53) – Alex Bond, Wasilla

.351 (13-37) – Connor Lanehart, Eagle River

.349 (15-43) – Connor Johnson, Eagle River

.348 (31-89) – Jesse Loughman, Ketchikan

.343 (24-70) – Kaden Bevegni, South

RBI

35 – Dylan Nedzwecky, Ketchikan

32 – Garren Henning, Sitka

31 – Jesse Loughman, Ketchikan

29 – Nik Calhoun, Sitka

26 – Oliver Brown, South

24 – Kaden Bevegni, South

24 – Pedro Camacho, Wasilla

24 – Jace Crall, Wasilla

24 – Curtis Hebert, South

23 – Koen Leaders, Colony

22 – Brayden Parrent, Colony

21 – Alex Bond, Wasilla

21 – Hunter Rau, Chugiak

20 – Logan Bailey, Wasilla

19 – Bridger Bird, Sitka

19 – Colby Hanchey, Ketchikan

19 – Nate Wilson, Colony

RUNS

44 – Colby Hanchey, Ketchikan

32 – Oliver Brown, South

30 – Colton Haase, Colony

29 – Logan Bailey, Wasilla

27 – Bubba Williams, Ketchikan

26 – Will Plowman, Wasilla

24 – Ben Neuberger, South

24 – Bryant Marks, Colony

23 – Pedro Camacho, Wasilla

23 – Hunter Christian, Service

23 – Van McGarrigan, Ketchikan

23 – Wyatt Walling, Wasilla

STOLEN BASES

32 – Nik Calhoun, Sitka

26 – Garren Henning, Sitka

20 – Logan Bailey, Wasilla

17 – Bubba Williams, Ketchikan

16 – Karsen Spradling, Colony

15 – Colby Hanchey, Ketchikan

14 – Oliver Brown, South

14 – Will Plowman, Wasilla

14 – Syker Sugita, South

13 – Drake Gallagher, Colony

12 – Brayden Parrent, Colony

11 – Hunter Christian, Service

10 – Sean Giffen, South

10 – Jonathan Scoblic, Ketchikan

10 – Jayden Steckel, Chugiak

INNINGS

50.2 – Van McGarrigan, Ketchikan (2-0, 2.49)

44.0 – Jesse Loughman, Ketchikan (1-0, 4.14)

43.0 – Isaac Johnson, South (7-0, 0.41)

35.1 – Colby Hanchey, Ketchikan (2-0, 2.58)

28.1 – Luke Ivanoff, South (6-0, 0.71)

27.2 – Grady Smith, Sitka (1.27)

27.0 – Nik Calhoun, Sitka (0.51)

27.0 – Jayden Steckel, Chugiak (4-2, 4.14)

25.0 – Jace Crall, Wasilla (5-0, 3.76)

25.0 – Preston Rau, Chugiak (3-2, 2.24)

24.1 – Dayton Greer, Wasilla (1-1 2.88)

24.0 – Landon Luebke, Chugiak (3-1, 2.30)

22.0 – Zephon Rhowmin, Colony (1-0, 1.56)

22.1 – Koen Leaders, Colony (1-1, 1.69)

19.0 – Curtis Hebert, South (3-0, 0.00)

19.0 – Jake Rafferty, Service (3-1, 1.84)

17.2 – Noah Lower, Eagle River (2-1, 0.81)

16.1 – Josh Westerman, Chugiak (1-0, 1.71)

15.1 – Bryce Calhoun, Sitka (3.65)

14.0 – Jack Molloy, Eagle River (2-0, 1.50)

13.2 – Dalton Smith, Eagle River (1-0, 2.56)

11.0 – Michael Sculley, Service (1-0, 0.63)

STRIKEOUTS

48 – Isaac Johnson, South

43 – Luke Ivanoff, South

39 – Nik Calhoun, Sitka

38 – Van McGarrigan, Ketchikan

34 – Curtis Hebert, South

34 – Jayden Steckel, Chugiak

25 – Colton Haase, Colony

25 – Grady Smith, Sitk

22 – Colby Hanchey, Ketchikan

21 – Jake Rafferty, Service

21 – Jarem Venie, Colony

20 - Koen Leaders, Colony

20 – Preston Rau, Chugiak

 

Trivia Question

Who was the last player to hit a grand slam and pick up the winning decision at pitcher in the state tournament title game?

The answer will be revealed during Third Inning Trivia in Thursday’s 1 p.m. live stream on nfhs.com with broadcaster Nate Sagan.

South's Hebert named MVP to headline All-CIC awards

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 1, 2022

For the fourth time in five years, a player from South has earned MVP honors in the Cook Inlet Conference.

Senior all-star Curtis Hebert earned the 2022 Don Rabung MVP Award in a vote by head coaches over fellow finalists Oliver Brown of South and Noah Lower of Eagle River.

Hebert was a trifecta of terrific as an elite pitcher, catcher and hitter. He pitched the 15th no-hitter in CIC history and tied the league’s single-game RBI record of 8.

The right-hander hasn’t allowed an earned run in 19 innings on the mound. At the plate, he’s batting .403 on 25-of-62 hitting with 2 home runs and 24 RBIs in 23 games.

Hebert was also selected first-team pitcher and first-team catcher.

He’s the seventh South player to win MVP honors, including recent winners Jacob Woodall in 2019, Lian Lincoln in 2018 and Jonny Homza in 2017.

CIC MVPs Per School

8 - East

8 - Service

7 - South

4- Chugiak

4 - Dimond 

1 - Bartlett

1 - Eagle River

1 - Bartlett

Hebert was the MaxPreps Preseason Player of the Year and has signed to play NCAA Division I baseball at the University of Portland.

Brown was first-team shortstop and second-team pitcher while Lower was first-team utility and first-team pitcher.

South’s Isaac Johnson won the Wade Blasingame Top Pitcher Award. The right-handed ace posted league hits in wins (7), innings (34) and strikeouts (48).

Recent Top Pitcher Award winners from South include Parker Johnson in 2017 and Brody Jessee in 2019.

Bartlett outfielder Carl Colavecchio had a big night, taking home the Big Stick Award and sharing the Gold Glove Award with Service middle infielder Sebastian Fournier.

Colavecchio hit .420 on 21-of-50 hitting with 16 RBIs, 14 runs and seven-extra base hits in 18 games.

Colavecchio is the second Bartlett player to win the Big Stick Award, joining first baseman Logan Williams in 2015. He’s the fifth Golden Bear to win a Gold Glove.

Fournier is the fourth Service player to win a Gold Glove, the first since shortstop Jake Ridley in 2012.

2022 ALL-CIC Team_Page_1.jpg

2022 ALL-CIC Team_Page_2.jpg

CIC Tournament Title Game: South 3, Eagle River 2

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 26, 2022

The stars came out for the South baseball team in the Cook Inlet Conference Tournament title game.

The terrific trio of Isaac Johnson, Oliver Brown and Curtis Hebert played a huge role in helping the No. 1 seed Wolverines hold off No. 2 Eagle River 3-2 at Mulcahy Stadium to run their state-record winning streak to 41 games dating back to 2019.

Johnson dominated on the mound and carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, Brown drove in the winning run with a two-run triple in the fifth inning and Hebert threw out two baserunners behind the plate and then took the mound and earned a three-out save.

Eagle River held South (23-0) off the scoreboard for the first four innings, turned two double plays, hit a home run – and lost.

Baseball can be cruel sometimes.

Not if you’re a South fan, though. The Wolverines all season have showcased big bats, a dynamite defense and bionic arms on their way to racking up ten mercy-rule wins.

All of the games haven’t been easy, and when challenged, they have responded like a championship team. Thursday was no different, holding off an Eagle River (15-4) team that has challenged South better than any team in the state, losing three of the last four head-to-head matchups by 1 or 2 runs.

It helps to have three college-ready stars in Johnson (NCAA Division II Concordia University St Paul), Brown (NCAA Division I Holy Cross) and Hebert (NCAA Division I Portland).

With his team trailing 1-0 in the fifth inning, South’s Carson Maltby smacked a one-out double to get the party started. One out later, Skyler Sugita laid down a beautifully executed drag bunt for an infield since that advanced Maltby to third.

First came a bloop, then a blast.

Brown crushed an opposite-field, two-run triple to the right-center gap to score Maltby with the tying run and Sugita with the go-ahead run. It was a rocket shot that you don’t see off the bat of many high school players.

Unsung hero A.J. Sawicki of South provided what proved to be the game-winning run when he doubled in Luke Beard all the way from first base in the sixth inning. Earlier this season Sawicki filled in for Sean Giffen at second base and the defense didn’t miss a beat. Here, he didn’t miss the pitch.

A 3-1 lead with Johnson on the bump usually spells doom for opponents. Even though he trailed most of tonight’s game 1-0 after a runner reached on an error and later scored on a wild pitch in the second inning, the 6-foot-4 rocket right-hander was in total command.

He had three 1-2-3 frames and retired 13 of 16 in one stretch, with two of those runners being erased by his catcher, Hebert, catching two runners stealing second base.

He got Eagle River’s big stick Noah Lower to ground out to end the sixth inning in a best-on-best matchup to take his no-hit bid into the seventh inning.

Eagle River slugger Connor Johnson led off the seventh inning and turned on a fastball, crushing a solo home run that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center, some 365 feet away. This was his second bomb in three games.

Eagle River’s first hit came on the South ace’s 87th pitch.

Hebert closed it out with a runner in scoring position, striking out the final two batters to earn the save.

Johnson didn’t just hit a bomb for the Wolves; the slick second baseman also made a bare-handed snag on the flip from shortstop to turn a 6-4-3 double play in the second inning and was part of another DP in the fourth inning.

Both teams already punched their tickets to the next week’s ASAA Division I state tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

CIC Tournament 3rd Place Game: Chugiak 8, Dimond 4

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 26, 2022

Chugiak (13-7) become the third CIC team to earn an automatic berth to state after doubling up Dimond 8-4 in the tournament’s third-place game in the early game.

The Mustangs pieced together four straight two-out base knocks to take the lead for good in the fourth inning and Josh Westerman delivered a remarkable relief pitching performance.

Westerman pitched six strong innings, scattering eight hits and allowing one run. He held the Lynx in check long enough for Chugiak to warm up on offense.

The same could be said for Steckel, who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs. He also turned an unassisted double play to snuff out a fourth-inning rally.

He also delivered one of the RBI singles by the Mustangs in the fourth inning when seven straight batters reached base with two outs. Fischer Sims, Carter McCormick and Michael Boudreau also came up clutch with a little two-out magic.

Sims finished 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs. Andrew Gruszynski was hit by a pitch twice and scored two runs and twin brother Gabe Gruszynski got hit by a pitch and scored a run.

Dimond banged out 10 hits, led by Shane Stephan’s 4-for-4 night. Stephan batted 9-for-14 in four CIC Tournament games and played superb shortstop with several web gems.

CIC Tournament Semifinals: South 5, Dimond 2

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 25, 2022

Luke Ivanoff outdueled Logan Smith in a battle of flamethrowers and when the smoke cleared South's winning streak reached 40 after a 5-2 victory in the Cook Inlet Conference Tournament semifinals at Mulcahy Stadium.

Ivanoff was incredible, striking out 11 over a 99-pitch complete-game performance. He scattered four hits and four walks but also struck out nine of nine batters in one stretch.

Smith was sensational despite one forgettable inning, not allowing a base hit until his 96th pitch when beat out an infield single deep in the hole at short.

Together, Ivanoff and Smith made opposing batters look like tourists - combining for 11 caught-looking strikeouts.

Smith struck out two hitters in the bottom of the second. Ivanoff struck out two in the top of the third.

Smith struck out the side in the bottom of third. Ivanoff struck out the side in the top of the fourth.

The win advanced South to next week's ASAA Division I state tournament and punched its ticket to tomorrow night's CIC championship game against Eagle River at 7:30.

South (22-0) scored four runs in the fourth inning without the benefit of a base hit after the first six batters reached base - BB, HBP, BB, BB, HBP, E5.

The Wolverines tacked on another run in the fifth inning aided by Oliver Brown's walk, Giffen's single and Ben Neuberger's sac fly - South's first RBI in the last 10 innings dating back to last weekend.

Smith allowed one hit and struck out eight over five innings.

Two weeks ago, South swept Dimond in a doubleheader by a combined score of 26-0.

But this is a much different Lynx squad. 

Confidence restored after winning four of its last five, including back-to-back tournament games.

Peyton Montagna went 2-for-3 with a run, Eli Lipinski smacked a two-run double and Smith walked twice. Shane Stephan singled and scored.

Dimond (8-11) will play Chugiak in tomorrow's CIC Tournament third-place game at 5 p.m.

CIC Tournament Semifinals: Eagle River 6, Chugiak 1

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 25, 2022

Alex Mullen and Dalton Smith combined for a 4-hitter and Josh Thompson drove in the winning run as No. 2 Eagle River pulled away to beat No. 3 Chugiak 6-1 in the Cook Inlet Conference Tournament semifinals at Mulcahy Stadium.

Mullen started and pitched 4.2 innings to earn the winning decision before giving way to Smith, who recorded a seven-out save.

The win punched Eagle River's ticket to next week's ASAA Division I state tournament as well as a trip to tomorrow night's CIC championship game against South at 7:30.

The Wolves got there by beating crosstown rival Chugiak for the third time this season.

With two outs and two on in the fourth inning of a 1-1 game, Thompson ripped a single to center field that scored Jack Molloy, who just beat the relay home in a play at the plate.

Eagle River (15-4) added two more runs in the fifth inning on RBIs from Connor Lanehart and Charlie Wallace.

Meanwhile, Mullen was mowing. After allowing an unearned run in the second inning, he retired nine straight batters before issuing a base on balls to Fischer Sims with two outs in the fifth inning.

Another walk signaled the end of the road for Mullen, who was replaced by Smith, a freshman, who got a strikeout to end the threat.

Smith pitched around a single in the sixth and then closed it out with a game-ending double play, thanks to shortstop Landon Hudson.

Eagle River’s two-run sixth inning was straight out of Hollywood as three-hole hitter Noah Lower - arguably the CIC's top hitter - laid down a surprise bunt with runners on second and third, with Thompson breaking from second base and never breaking stride to come around to score. It was reminiscent of the final play in the movie ‘Major League’.

Chugiak (12-7) took a 1-0 lead in the second inning after Tyler Cage doubled and scored on the third baseman's error. The Mustangs threatened with two on in the the fifth and seventh innings, but no dice.

The Mustangs will face Dimond in the CIC Tournament third-place game tomorrow night at 5.

They say you always see something different at the ballpark and today was no different as this game featured four outs on the base paths, three double plays and a batter's interference call.

CIC Tournament 2nd Round: Chugiak 2, West 1

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 24, 2022

Chugiak’s brother battery of pitcher Preston Rau and catcher Hunter Rau stole the show.

The No. 3 Mustangs’ twin powers took center stage in their team’s 2-1 victory over No. 6 West in the second round of the CIC Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium, as Preston threw a 70-pitch complete game and Hunter threw out two baserunners.

Preston Rau enjoyed a five-pitch first inning, had three baserunners wiped away on the basepaths, benefited from a 6-4-3 double play and racked up a trio of 1-2-3 frames.

West starter Caden Greenhalgh was just as sharp, holding the Mustangs off the scoreboard with five straight shutout frames.

The pitcher’s duel lasted all of 1 hour and 19 minutes.

Both teams did all of its scoring in the first inning before the pitchers turned Mulcahy into a bagel factory, exchange zeroes on the scoreboard.

West’s Beckett Stolp singled on the first pitch of the game. Cyrus Clendaniel singled on the second pitch of the game. By the third pitch, it was 1-0 on Orion Halliburton’s sac fly. Two pitches later the inning was over on a double play.

Chugiak tied the game after Jayden Steckel doubled down the third-base line and later scored on Hunter Rau’s sac fly. Michael Boudreau, who had walked, eventually scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-1.

From there, Preston Rau was rocking and rolling. He retired eight straight before Clendaniel singled in the fourth inning – and then got erased by Hunter Rau’s rocket right arm.

In the sixth inning Stolp singled and met the same fate on the basepaths as Hunter Rau chopped him down at second base.

Chugiak’s left fielder Carter McCormack made a head-first diving catch to rob Gabe Caternicchio of a base hit in the sixth inning to deny the Eagles a first and third situation, maybe even saved a run.

The next batter bounded a ball to shortstop Gabe Gruszynski, who went to third for the 6-5 putout to wipe away a runner in scoring position.

Preston Rau was loving it. He struck out four and walked zero over his sensational seven-inning performance.

Greenhalgh – who threw a no-hitter earlier this season – suffered a tough-luck loss as he struck out seven over six innings and didn’t allow a run after the first inning.

With the win, Chugiak advanced to tomorrow’s 5 p.m. semifinal against No. 2 Eagle River.

CIC Tournament 2nd Round: Dimond 5, Service 3

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 24, 2022

Garrett Lick and Alex Bruce set the tone that carried the No. 5 Lynx to a 5-3 victory over No. 4 Service in the second round of the CIC Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Lick ripped a two-out, two-run single in the top of the first inning and then made a diving catch on a pop up and was part of an inning-ending double play in the bottom half of the first.

Meanwhile, Bruce took it from there, pitching a complete-game with five scoreless frames and five strikeouts to keep Dimond’s season alive.

The Lynx will face top-seeded South in tomorrow’s 7:30 p.m. semifinal.

Dimond also got a sensational night from shortstop Shane Stephan, who played flawless in the field. He started a 6-4-3 double play in the first inning, saved a run with a beautiful play to end the second inning and was money on five other putouts.

He was so good he helped turn a 1-6-3 single play that looked like a double play. Bruce fielded a comebacker with a runner on second base and threw it to Stephan in an attempt to start a rundown, but Stephan fired to first base for the out.

Bruce scattered five hits and five walks and got error-free defense behind him. He walked the first two batters of the third inning before settling in and retiring the next seven straight batters.

After giving up runs in the fifth and sixth innings he shut the door in with a 1-2-3 seventh.

Stephan made the defensive play of the game in the second inning when he robbed Andrew Hickman of an RBI single after diving to snag a grounder, jumping up and throwing a rocket to first base.

Meanwhile, Service’s steady defense looked shaky at times and it cost the Cougars. They made back-to-back errors in the third but escaped after third baseman’s Jake Rafferty turned a 5-3 double play. A dropped pop up doomed them in the fourth inning as it opened the door to more Dimond runs as the Lynx took a 4-0 lead.

Joe Moriarty and Pama Brito collected those RBIs. Another Moriarty RBI in the fifth inning pushed Dimond’s lead to 5-0.

Service’s Payton Cole went 2-for-2 with a double, run and RBI. He doubled and scored in the fifth inning on Coen Niclai’s RBI and drove in a run in the sixth inning to score Owen Hickman, who had doubled, to make it 5-3.

This was Dimond’s first win in three meetings over Service on the year.

CIC Tournament 1st Round: Dimond 10, Bartlett 7

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 23, 2022

Ryan Swanstrom pitched a one-inning save, drove in a run and made a sensational catch in left field to highlight No. 5 Dimond in a 10-7 victory over No. 8 Bartlett in the first round of the CIC Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Starter Eli Lipinski earned the winning decision and went 2-for-5 with three RBIs for Dimond, which advanced to tomorrow's second round against No. 4 Service.

Dimond scored in every inning and held off a spirited Bartlett squad that scored the most runs versus the Lynx since 2006.

Luke Hoen tripled and scored on Pama Brito's RBI groundout for the winning run, making the score 8-5 in the fourth inning.

Swanstrom made maybe the defensive play of the year in the CIC when he made a diving catch and threw the ball all the way to first base to double up the runner for a rare 7-3 double play.

Lipinski's RBI gave Dimond a 4-1 lead in the second inning as the Lynx looked to repeat their 10-0 win over Bartlett earlier this season.

But the Golden Bears weren't going away.

Bartlett’s Carl Colavecchio’s RBI groundout made it 4-2 as he drove in both of his team’s first two runs. John Grantier’s triple drove in a run and he scored on an error to tie the game at 4.

Stephan and Lipinski each delivered RBIs in the third, just like they did in the second, to put Dimond ahead for good at 7-4.

But in the fifth inning, Bartlett pulled within 8-7 on Alex Egoak’s sac fly. And in the seventh inning the Bears brought the tying run to the plate with runners on second and third before Swanstrom ended the threat and the game.

CIC Tournament 1st Round: West 3, East 0

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 23, 2022

Michael Tillman and Makai Baylous combined on a shutout as No. 6 West blanked No. 7 East 3-0 in the first round of the CIC Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Tillman struck out nine over six innings and Baylous earned the save with a white-knuckle seventh inning for the Eagles, who advanced to tomorrow’s second round game against No. 3 Chugiak.

Tillman and East starter Bryce Erickson were both dynamite, matching each other strikeout for strikeout through the first three innings.

Erickson didn’t allow a base hit until his 71st pitch with one out in the fourth inning.

Tillman didn’t allow a base runner to reach scoring position on his watch, getting glove love from his defense in the form of two double plays and a caught stealing.

Beckett Stolp walked to lead off the bottom of the first inning and eventually scored on a wild pitch for the game's first run.

West eight-hole hitter Sam Ziersel's RBI single in the fourth inning made it 2-0 and Gabe Caternicchio's two-strike, two-out base knock pushed West's cushion to 3-0.

East outhit West 8-3.

Jacob Pruitt, Kenton Cooke and Andrew Malone each had two hits for the T-birds. Malone threw out a base runner at third base in the first inning and Juan Franco made a nice bare-handed flip for an out in the sixth inning.

East's offense, which had been quite all night, came alive in the seventh inning.

Erickson reached after getting hit by a pitch, which ended Tillman's night. Baylous entered the game and struck out the first batter on three pitches before giving up back-to-back hits by Cooke and Austin Johnson.

But the Eagles cut down a run at the plate for the second out and Baylous ended the game with a strikeout.

CIC League Finale: Rau rakes, has 5 RBIs for Chugiak

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 21, 2022

Chugiak 16, East 1

Hunter Rau raked, going 3-for-3 with 5 RBIs to highlight Chugiak's four-inning victory at Mulcahy Stadium.

Jayden Steckel drove in three runs and scored twice while starter Landon Luebke and Preston Rau combined for a 2-hitter.

Other players with RBIs included Shayden Davis, Michael Boudreau, Luebke and Tyler Cage for the Mustangs (11-6, 5-2 CIC).

East's Austin Johnson doubled and Angus Nicholson tripled.

Kaleb Wegg drove in his team's lone run and Blake Yawitt scored for the T-birds (3-13, 1-6 CIC).

East also made some nice defensive plays, converting a 1-3 tagout after the ball hit starter Andrew Malone in the foot and ricocheted to first baseman Nicholson.

Willy Nunez made two web gems, finishing off a 6-2-5 rundown and making a beautiful throw on the move for another out.

CIC League Finale: Johnson has shutout, but Bears battle

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 21, 2022

South 9, Bartlett 0
Starter Issac Johnson fired a 3-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts in a dominating performance at Mulcahy Stadium.

But maybe the biggest star was Bartlett pitcher Nick Brandal, who came on in relief and tossed five consecutive shutout innings against the CIC's first-place team.

Brandal came on with the Golden Bears down 8-0 with one out in the first inning in what looked like a laugher.

He wasn't playing around, though.

Brandal allowed one run to score before throwing up a bunch of goose eggs in an excellent effort.

He pitched a 1-2-3 second inning, struck out two batters in the third inning and saw his defense cut down a run at the plate in the sixth inning.

South's 3-hole hitter Curtis Hebert - who has really come on in the last two weeks - went 4-for-4 with a double and three RBIs for the Wolverines (21-0, 7-0 CIC).

Sean Giffen went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs. AJ Sawicki was also 2-for-4 and Oliver Brown 2-for-3.

Bartlett's Eli Corwin went 2-for-3, including a single on the first pitch of the game. Luke Helgeson also had a base hit for Bartlett (6-11, 0-7 CIC).

CIC League Finale: Johnson's homer highlights ER win

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 21, 2022

Eagle River 11, West 1
Connor Johnson hit a big fly and Landon Hudson finished with four RBIs as Eagle River won by mercy rule in five innings at Mulcahy Stadium.

Johnson ripped a solo home run in the third inning to push his team's lead to 5-1.

Hudson, the No. 9 hitter, doubled in a pair of runs in the second inning and added an two-run single in the fifth inning.

Starter Karson Kolberg and reliever Josh Thompson combined for eight strikeouts for Eagle River (14-3, 6-1 CIC).

Kolberg also drove in two runs, as did Liam Lierman, who also scored twice.

West's Beckett Stolp went 2-for-2 with a walk and Gabe Caternicchio drove in a run for the second straight game.

The Eagles (4-15, 2-5 CIC) also turned a 5-4-3 double play in the fourth inning.

Today's CIC Schedule
At Mulcahy Stadium
4pm Bartlett vs. South
7pm East vs. Chugiak

CIC League Finale: Service clinches 4th seed for tourney

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 21, 2022

Service 11, Dimond 1

The top of the Service lineup went a combined 8-for-12 and starter Jake Rafferty pitched five strong innings to power the Cougars at Mulcahy Stadium.

Hunter Christian, Sebastian Fournier and Coen Niclai also combined to score seven runs in a matchup to determine the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye at next week's CIC Tournament.

Fournier went 4-for-5 with a triple and double and two RBIs. Christian also tripled and doubled. The two of them combined to give Service a 1-0 lead four pitches into the game.

It set the tone as the Cougars (12-5, 4-3 CIC) scored seven runs in the first two innings.

Rafferty allowed six hits and one run over his five innings of work. Reliever Owen Hickman closed it out with two scoreless frames.

Dimond banged out seven hits and got an RBI from Eli Lipinski. Reliever Alex Bruce tossed three scoreless frames while Shane Stephan, Peyton Montagna and Garrett Lick each had two hits for the Lynx (6-11, 3-4 CIC).

 
Today's CIC Schedule
At Mulcahy Stadium
1pm Eagle River vs. West
4pm Bartlett vs. South
7pm East vs. Chugiak

CIC League Day 13: Chugiak doubles up West

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 20, 2022

Chugiak 10, West 5

Catcher Hunter Rau drove in two runs and threw out a baserunner to get it done for the Mustangs at Mulcahy Stadium.

Gabe Gruszynski went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. Michael Boudreau and Landon Luebke each went 2-for-3 and scored a run. Boudreau also doubled.

Jayden Steckel struck out seven over four innings of work for Chugiak (10-6, 4-2 CIC). He also started a 1-6-3 double play in the first inning.

West's Caden Greenhalgh drove in two runs for West (4-14, 2-4 CIC).

Orion Halliburton and Gabe Caternicchio had RBIs. Halliburton and Sam Ziersel hit doubles.
 

CIC League Day 12: Dimond runs away in blowout win

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 19, 2022

Dimond 16, East 1

Shane Stephan, Peyton Montagna and Garrett Lick each had two base knocks in a 10-hit attack at Mulcahy Stadium.

Stephan and Pama Brite each scored three runs. Montagna and Joe Moriarty had two RBIs apiece for the Lynx (6-10, 3-3 CIC).

East's Blake Yawit scored the lone run for his team while Willy Nunez and Kenton Cooke had base hits for the T-birds (3-12, 1-5 CIC).
 

CIC League Day 12: Hickman and Hickman lead Service

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 19, 2022

Service 10, Bartlett 0

Owen Hickman went 3-for-4 and drove in five runs, and Andrew Hickman pitched four shutout innings at Mulcahy Stadium.

Service took control with a five-run second inning.

Owen Hickman and Coen Niclai each smacked triples 

Hunter Christian went 2-for-3 with a run and Sebastian Fournier scored three times and drove in a run for the Cougars (11-5, 3-3 CIC).

Bartlett was doomed by errors, which allowed Service to score nine unearned runs.

Eli Corwin, Carl Colavecchio, Kevin Tapia, John Grantier and Alex Egoak all had hits for the Golden Bears (6-10, 0-6 CIC).

South's Hebert throws 15th no-hitter in CIC history

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 17, 2022

A no-hitter was just about the only thing the South baseball team hadn’t accomplished during its 36-game winning streak.

Curtis Hebert changed that Monday night.

The senior right-handed pitcher threw the third no-no in school history and the 15th in the Cook Inlet Conference since 1994, needing 105 pitches to record 21 outs in a 6-1 non-league victory over Wasilla in the Valley.

Hebert racked up 11 strikeouts, five groundouts and five flyouts in his complete-game gem to record the first South no-hitter since Jonny Homza in 2016.

His night didn’t feature an auspicious start as he hit the first batter of the game on an 0-2 count and awarded him second base on a wild pitch. But he settled down to strike out the side.

He retired 12 straight batters before walking Wasilla’s George McSorely to lead off the fifth inning.

Hebert finished with four walks, including two to start the seventh inning, when he lost his shutout.

Only two of the 15 no-hitters in CIC history were not shutouts, with the 2015 no-no thrown by West’s Sean Duffy in a 5-1 win over East being the other.

Hebert also helped himself at the plate, going 3-for-4 with an RBI. The Wolverines (19-0) also got runs batted in from Oliver Brown, Skyler Sugita and Ben Neuberger.

Wasilla pitcher Dayton Greer went the distance for the Warriors (11-5), scattering eight hits and allowing only three earned runs against the state’s most potent offense that usually wins by mercy rule.

Hebert also gave Greer a tip of the cap.

Hebert and Greer weren’t the only gamers on the field. Home plate umpire James Taylor also came to play.

Taylor was hit by a pitch in the second inning and his hand swelled up quickly, but he didn’t come out of the game.

CIC League Day 10: Eagle River revs up hit parade

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 16, 2022

Eagle River 11, Dimond 3

It was singles night at Mulcahy Stadium for the Eagle River Wolves.

Eagle River banged out 13 singles and had five players with two hits as the Wolves built an early 7-0 cushion and cruised down the stretch.

Pitchers Liam Lierman and Jack Molloy combined to scatter four hits and two walks while striking out seven.

Eagle River (12-3, 5-1 CIC) had six consecutive singles in the second inning by Lierman, Josh Thompson, Dallin Roberts, Noah Lower, Alex Mullen and Karson Kolberg.

Lierman, a southpaw, struck out four of the first eight batters he faced. He finished with four innings and started a 2-6 double play to end the third inning after catching a pop up and firing to second base to double up the runner.

Dimond (4-10, 2-3 CIC) got a nice relief effort from Ryan Swanstrom, who allowed three runs in five innings, with two of them coming with two outs in the seventh.

Garrett Lick singled, scored and made a beautiful diving stop to rob Thompson in the sixth inning.

Joe Moriarty had an RBI and Peyton Montagna scored a run, stole a base and hit an opposite-field flyball all the way to the warning track in right field.

CIC League Day 9: Charmed Wolverines seize first place

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 14, 2022

South 3, Eagle River 1
South has all the makings for a long winning streak - pitching, defense and four-leaf clovers.

For the second straight day, the charmed Wolverines saw opponents make key miscues that helped them escape another upset bid at Mulcahy Stadium.

Friday, it was a 1-0 win over Juneau. Tonight, it was a 3-1 win over Eagle River.

In the end, a win is a win, and South extended its state-record winning streak to 35 games after winning the battle of CIC frontrunners.

The Wolverines (17-0, 5-0 CIC) prevailed on the strength of pitching (Isaac Johnson, Oliver Brown) and defense (Curtis Hebert, Kaden Bevegni).

But Eagle River did let them off the hook a few times as well, making mistakes that led to all three runs.

The Wolves even shot themselves in the foot on offense, with Dallin Roberts' groundball hitting Karson Kolberg on the base paths for a double whammy - Kolberg was out and Eagle River lost a runner in scoring position.

South took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Carson Maltby walked, stole second base and scored on Cutis Hebert's RBI double. On Maltby's steal, he was initially called out but the umpire immediately changed the call after the ball popped out of the infielder's glove on the tag.

Eagle River tied it in the third inning after Charlie Wallace singled, stole second and scored on Noah Lower's RBI bloop single.

That was the first run South has allowed in 20.1 innings across five games in CIC league play.

Lower also started on the mound for the Wolves and was locked with South ace Johnson in an old-fashioned pitcher's duel. Lower retired 12 of 15 at one point. Johnson worked around trouble, getting strikeouts to end the first, second, third, fourth and sixth innings. 

South took a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning, capitalizing on two miscues by Eagle River. The Wolves had a chance to turn 6-3 double play but the throw to first was rushed and pulled the first baseman off the bag, allowing Hebert to reach.

Credit the Wolverines for executing a hit-and-run to get Hebert to third base on Ben Neuberger's single through the right side. South went for a squeeze the next batter and the bunt bounced right back to the pitcher, who had Hebert nailed at home with an accurate throw but it was high and Hebert slide under the tag.

South added to its cushion in the seventh inning after courtesy runner Gavin Alexander scored, racing home all the way from second base on an infield-single-throw-gets-away play.

Brown closed it out with a clean seventh to earn the save. 

Lower pitched 5.3 innings, scattering five hits and two walks while striking out three. He also drove in the lone run for the Wolves (11-3, 4-1 CIC) and made a nice catch on a high pop up to end the seventh.

On Don Rabung Day, this game pitted three of the top players in contention for the Don Rabung CIC MVP Award in Lower, Brown and Johnson.

CIC League Day 9: Five-run first inning fuels Chugiak

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 14, 2022

Chugiak 7, Bartlett 1

Owen Dockstader's bases-clearing, three-run double in the first inning fueled the Mustangs at Mulcahy Stadium.

Jayden Steckel allowed one run over four innings and teamed with Preston Rau and Gabe Gruszynski for the 6-hitter.

Tyler Cage went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. The third baseman also made the defensive play of the game when he snagged a hot shot at the hot corner and threw out the runner from his knees.

Michael Boudreau, Carter McCormick and Fischer Sims added RBIs for Chugiak (9-5, 3-2 CIC).

Eli Corwin went 2-for-4 and Brad Beals was a beaut out of the bullpen.

Luke Helgeson drove in his team's lone run and Kevin Tapia, Alex Egoak, Wyatt Rust and Beals had base knocks.

Beals pitched three innings of relief, allowing just two hits, one run and zero walks for the Golden Bears (6-9, 0-4 CIC).

CIC League Day 9: Hickman's pitching carries Service

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 14, 2022

Service 11, East 1

Owen Hickman pitched five shutout innings and went 3-for-4 with the bat to help head coach Willie Paul make history.

Paul, a former Service catcher, became the sixth coach in CIC history to reach the 60-win benchmark in a career.

Hickman gave up two hits and zero walks while striking out two. He doubled in a run during a five-run fourth inning by the Cougars (8-5, 2-3 CIC).

Andrew Hickman (no relation) had a double, scored two runs and drove in three runs with a sac fly in the fourth inning and two-run two-bagger in the fifth inning.

Service belted out four doubles, including one by Hunter Christian, who also made the Alaska 529 Smart Play of the Game after ranging to field a ball and throwing across his body to get Willy Nunez by a step.

Christian, Landon Martindale and Aiden Pereault also had RBIs for Service.

Nunez got a hit later in the game while Jacob Pruitt scored the lone run for East (3-9, 1-3 CIC). Kenton Cooke doubled and Kaleb Webb singled.

CIC League Day 9: Lipinski, Stephan spark Dimond win

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 14, 2022

Dimond 12, West 2

Eli Lipinski pitched all six innings, scored two runs and had an RBI to help the Lynx stay hot at Mulcahy Stadium.

Dimond has won three out of its last four games to pump life back into its season following a 1-7 start.

Lipinski struck out eight batters and allowed two hits and a walk. His RBI pushed Dimond's lead to 6-2 in the fifth inning.

Two-hole hitter Shane Stephan went 2-for-2 with two sac flies and three RBIs for the Lynx (4-8, 2-2 CIC). He had an RBI single in the first inning and run-scoring flyballs in the fourth and sixth innings.

Peyton Montagna went 2-for-2 with two runs, two stolen bases and an RBI. Joe Moriarty had two RBIs and Pama Brito scored two runs.

West's Paul Dittrich, a freshman cleanup hitter, drove in both of his teams runs with a base hit in the first inning and a run-scoring groundball in the fourth inning.

Center fielder Beckett Stolp was part of a 8-2 double play after throwing out a runner at the plate, his second assist on a double play in the last three games.

Three-hole hitter Orion Halliburton tripled and scored twice for the Eagles (4-12, 2-3 CIC), who have dropped two in a row since Caden Greenhalgh's no-hitter Thursday.

Don Rabung Day to be celebrated Saturday at Mulcahy

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 14, 2022

One of the founding fathers of high school baseball in Alaska will be celebrated Saturday at Mulcahy Stadium.

Don Rabung Day will honor the former Dimond Legion Post 21 manager around 12:30 p.m. – right after the Dimond/West game and right before the East/Service game.

A short ceremony will be held on the field, featuring his family and former players. Lt. Governor Kevin Meyer will be on hand to make remarks about the man who touched so many lives.

Rabung passed away last November at the age of 85.

A former professional pitcher in the Cleveland Guardians farm system in 1950s, Rabung brought his love of the game to Alaska and shared it with hundreds of young men as a coach and then as an official with the American Legion of Alaska.

 

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Don Rabung (center)

Rabung was a longtime Legion district director and preached honor and honesty.

“He was a man of little words but when he spoke you listened and he was probably right,” his grandson Wesley wrote on Facebook.

In 1992, Rabung and Earl Davis were key figures in getting high school baseball off the ground in Alaska. It started with the Cook Inlet Conference and grew, with ASAA creating a state tournament in 2000.

“I didn’t think it would grow to the extend it is now,” Rabung told me in 2012. “It’s good for the kids, and that’s what you got to look at.”

Rabung played two seasons of pro ball, lacing 'em up for Class B Yakima of the Northwest League in 1955 and Class A Montgomery and Knoxville in the South Atlantic League in 1956.

He posted a respectable 3.45 ERA in 352 innings during an era when a starting pitcher finished the job, as evidence of his 18 complete games in 43 career starts.

Rabung compiled a pro record of 16-24 with 260 strikeouts in 59 appearances.

“I never did make it to ‘The Bigs,’” he said. “I was just one of those guys not good enough to make it, but at least I had a chance.”

Rabung didn’t give up on baseball, instead putting himself in position to create a path for the next generation.

He led Dimond Post 21 to back-to-back Legion state championships in 1986 and 1987.

Ken Wooster was a member of Rabung’s coaching staff and credited the man for inspiring him to become a coach himself.

“I loved that old man,” Wooster said. “We lost one of the great ones. Old school in the best sense of the phrase."

“He was a great man,” said longtime Alaska coach Tony Wylie. “He was old school, respected the game like we’re supposed to and a great pitcher in his day.”

In 2012, Cook Inlet Conference baseball directors Steve Nerland and Don Winchester renamed the league’s MVP award in his honor – the Don Rabung CIC MVP Award.

“I told coaches, ‘Your program is only as good as your integrity,’” he said in 2012. “If it’s all about winning you kind of lose sight what you should be teaching those young kids; how to handle adversity because in baseball there’s a lot of adversity.

“Once you learn how to handle that then it becomes a life skill and it helps you in your everyday life.”

CIC League Day 8: Greenhalgh fires CIC’s 14th no-hitter

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 12, 2022

West 5, Bartlett 0

Caden Greenhalgh threw the 14th no-hitter in Cook Inlet Conference history, needing just 80 pitches to record 21 outs and make history at Mulcahy Stadium.

The right-handed pitcher struck out two hitters and faced just 22 batters, one above the minimum. He worked around four walks, getting two erased on double plays and another on a caught stealing.

This is the first no-hitter in the CIC since 2019 and the third in West history, joining Randy Aquino in 1994 and Sean Duffy in 2015.

There always seems to be a great defensive play tied to a no-hitter and this one was no different as West left fielder Cyrus Clendaniel robbed Bartlett’s Kevin Tapia with a leaping catch in the second inning.

The Eagles (4-9, 2-2 CIC) turned a 6-4-3 double play in the third inning and an 8-4 twin killing in the fifth inning. In the sixth inning catcher Evan Fitzgerald threw out a baserunner trying to steal third base to give Greenhalgh 18 up, 18 down.

In the seventh, he walked Eli Corwin to lead off and got Luke Helgeson to ground out to first base, allowing Corwin to second. Bartlett’s leading hitter Carl Colavecchio was intentionally walked and Greenhalgh got the final two outs on groundballs.

The final out came when third baseman Michael Tillman threw a strike to first base to end the game and make Greenhalgh only the 14th CIC pitcher since 1992 to throw a no-no.

In an era when people celebrate abbreviated no-hitters like it’s the real deal, this was the genuine article.

Offensively, Paul Dittrich went 2-for-2 with a walk, RBI, stolen base and two runs. Clendaniel and Gabe Caternicchio also had RBIs for West.  

Bartlett’s Andre Jameson drew two of his team’s four walks and the Golden Bears (6-7, 0-4 CIC) made several nice defensive plays. Both catchers, John Grantier and Corwin, each threw out baserunners and first baseman Nick Brandal made a nice catch against the fence in foul territory.

CIC League Day 8: Ivanoff invincible in 6-inning shutout

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 12, 2022

South 10, Service 0
Pitcher Luke Ivanoff was invincible over his six-inning shutout, holding the Cougars to one hit overall and two baserunners over the final four frames.

The rocket right-hander struck out five batters and issued four walks, with two of them coming in the first inning. He settled down nicely after that in a dominating 82-pitch performance.

Leadoff hitter Oliver Brown went 2-for-4 with a triple, run and two RBIs. Three-hole hitter Kaden Bevegni doubled in a couple runs as part of a five-run sixth inning that triggered the mercy rule.

Service was one out away from forcing South (14-0, 4-0 CIC) to play a full seven innings. That's rarity for the Wolverines, who already beat Dimond in three innings, and West and Chugiak in five innings in league play this season.

South took control in the second inning with three runs, keyed by RBI singles from Luke Beard and Brown. The Wolverines made it 5-0 in the third after scoring two runs on wild pitches.

From there, Ivanoff went into cruise control. He retired seven of the final eight batters, getting the benefit of a 6-4-3 double play to erase a walk in the fourth inning.

The Cougars (7-5, 1-3 CIC) had plenty to hang their hat on. Starter Andrew Hickman had a scoreless first inning against a South team that came in averaging 7.0 runs in the first inning of CIC league play.

Owen Hickman got his team's lone base knock and robbed Curtis Hebert of an RBI with a nice play to end the first inning.

Service reliever Sebastian Fournier was sublime, retiring six of the seven batters he faced in throwing two scoreless innings.

South has been held off the scoreboard in only five of 19 innings this season - and Fournier owns two of those goose eggs.

CIC League Day 7: Dimond breaks out in 10-hit attack

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 11, 2022

Dimond 10, Bartlett 0
The top of the lineup delivered a top-shelf performance to complement the pitching of Joe Moriarty and Alex Bruce at Mulcahy Stadium.

Leadoff batter Shane Stephan and 2-hole hitter Peyton Montagna each went 2-for-3 with a walk and combined to score five runs.

Montagna drove in three runs with a two-run double in the fourth inning and a RBI single in the fifth inning. He also scored the walkoff run on a dropped-third-strike-throw-down-to-first-beat-the-relay-home play.

Garrett Lick was 2-for-3 with a double and RBI as Dimond banged out 10 hits, including six on nine pitches during a base-hit blitz in the fourth inning.

After losing seven of their first eight games, the Lynx (3-7, 1-2 CIC) have won back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Moriarty started and did not allow a hit over his three innings, working around a pair of walks in the second inning. Moriarty also robbed Luke Helgeson of a base hit and RBI to end the fifth inning.

Bartlett's John Grantier and Brad Beals had base hits for the Golden Bears (6-6, 0-3 CIC). Grantier smacked a single through the left side and Beals executed a beautiful bunt with two strikes.

First baseman Nick Brandal played well in digging out low throws on a night when neither team made an error.

CIC League Day 6: Martindale saves the day for Service

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 10, 2022

CIC League Day 6: Service 8, West 7

Landon Martindale pitched the final four innings and ended the game on a strikeout with the tying run on second base at Mulcahy Stadium.

He also went 3-for-3 at the plate and scored two runs on a night when Service rallied from a 5-1 deficit and then hung on for dear life.

Martindale had retired the Eagles nine up and nine down - thanks to his catcher Coen Nicali throwing out a runner who had reached on an error - over the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

The seventh inning was a little bumpier after Orion Halliburton ripped a two-run double down the left-field line to make it a one-run game.

Hunter Christian went 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs for Service (7-4, 1-2 CIC). Owen Hickman went 2-for-2 with two RBIs and Niclai was 2-for-3 with two runs. Niclai's RBI double in the fifth inning proved to be the winning hit.

The top of the West lineup of Savion Bishop, Cyrus Clendaniel and Halliburton combined to 5-for-11 with five runs and two RBIs.

Beckett Stolp and Caden Greenhalgh had RBIs in the third inning to help West build a 5-1 advantage.

The Eagles (3-9, 1-2 CIC) were plagued by 13 walks by its pitching staff.

CIC League Day 6: Brown has 4 RBIs in South's 11-0 win

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 10, 2022

South 11, Chugiak 0

Oliver Brown stole the show, pitching three shutout innings and driving in four runs to highlight the Wolverines' five-inning victory at Mulcahy Stadium.

Brown went 3-for-3 at the plate and reached base in all four plate appearances. The leadoff hitter doubled in a run in the second inning, drove in two runs with a single in the third inning and had an RBI single in the fifth inning.

On the mound he racked up five strikeouts, all looking. His only hiccup was a two-out walk in the second inning.

Carson Maltby tripled in a run while Kaden Bevegni and Curtis Hebert also had run-scoring base knocks.

Ben Neuberger pitched two innings of relief for South (13-0, 3-0 CIC), which extended its state-record 31-game winning streak with its fifth straight shutout.

Chugiak's Jayden Steckel banged out his team's lone base hit and pitched three innings.

Landon Luebke drew a walk and pitched an inning of one-run relief, getting back-to-back outs to wiggle out of a jam.

The Gruszynski bros came to play - Andrew saw 15 pitches over two at-bats and laced one to left; Gabe pitched a scoreless fifth inning, just the second time in 13 innings that a pitcher kept South off the scoreboard. 

CIC League Day 5: Eagle River wins sixth straight

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 9, 2022

Eagle River 6, Chugiak 2

Noah Lower, Landon Hudson and Josh Thompson took care of most of the heavy lifting for the Wolves, who scored early and then hung on at Mulcahy Stadium.

Eagle River (9-1, 3-0 CIC) scored three runs in the first inning and led 5-0 after four innings en route to winning its sixth straight game.

Lower went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs, with one extra-base hit going to the right-center gap and another going to the left-center gap.

Hudson flashed a nice glove at shortstop and singed twice, scored three times and reached base four times. He was the table setter and Lower cleaned it, driving in Hudson in the first, second inning and fourth inning.

Lower is making an early-season case for the Don Rabung CIC MVP Award with a 7-for-10, 6-RBI start in three league games.

Tonight he also pitched, tossing four shutout innings with five strikeouts.

Eagle River reliever Dalton Smith threw 2.1 innings and struck out three straight batters and allowing three straight batters to reach base. Alex Mullen recorded a two-out save.

Chugiak (6-4, 2-1 CIC) struggled to drive in runners in scoring position and left 11 on base.

Fischer Sims and Jayden Steckel each RBIs for the Mustangs, with Hunter and Preston Rau scoring the runs.

Chugiak's defense made two nice plays, recording a 1-3-4-1 pickoff in the first inning and chopping down a run at the plate in the fourth inning.

But the defensive play of the game belonged to Thompson, who's sliding catching in center field robbed Gabe Gruszynski a two-run base knock in the third inning.

College: Johnson, Nevells, Gilbert are getting it done

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 8, 2022

Anchorage’s Parker Johnson hung tough after a poor start, keeping Western Oregon University in the game long for the Wolves to rally in the later stages.

Trailing 3-1 after the first inning, the Wolves tied it in the fifth inning and won in the ninth, prevailing 6-4 to claim a share of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference pennant.

Johnson pitched four innings and earned a no decision after battling back from a nightmare opening frame when the right-hander gave up five hits and three runs.

After that, though, he buckled down.

Johnson (South) threw 1-2-3 innings in the second and fourth, and allowed only two hits the rest of the way. He also worked around a bases-loaded jam in the third inning.

The junior starter has a 7-3 record and 4.25 ERA in 48.2 innings across 13 appearances with the NCAA Division II team in Monmouth, Oregon.

Western Oregon shared the GNAC pennant with Northwest Nazarene with identical 21-11 conference records, but Northwest Nazarene earned the No. 1 seed to next week’s GNAC Tournament on a tiebreaker. But Western Oregon will host.

Nevells hits 7th bomb

Chugiak’s Justin Nevells finished the season as Alaska’s home run king among college players. The freshman third baseman hit his seventh dinger for Doane University in a 12-5 win over Midland at the NAIA level in Crete, Nebraska. He finished with four RBIs – the fourth time that’s happened. Nevells (Chugiak) finished the season with a .338 batting average, seven home runs and 37 RBIs in 45 games. The right-handed slugger hit three homers in March, three in April and two in May.

Jacob Gilbert brilliant out of bullpen

Wasilla’s Jacob Gilbert was brilliant out of the bullpen for Bryan College in a 6-4 win over Truett McConnell in NAIA action in Dayton, Tennessee. The right-handed reliever was called on with Bryan trailing 3-0. His job was to hold Truett McConnell idle to give his team a chance to get hot. Gilbert’s scoreless pitching must have motivated the Lions, who roared back with two runs in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Gilbert (Wasilla) scattered four hits over his spotless 5.1-inning appearance that earned him the winning decision.

CIC League Day 4: Chugiak, Eagle River, South sit on top

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 7, 2022

Eagle River 15, Bartlett 0
Senior slugger Noah Lower went 2-for-3 with a double and racked up his 75th career RBI as the Wolves won big at Bartlett High School.

Lower was one of five Eagle River players to drive in at least two runs. Connor Johnson collected four RBIs with a 2-for-3 effort.

Josh Thompson, Landon Hudson and Karson Kolberg each had two RBIs in the 13-hit attack.

Thompson also pitched all three innings, allowing two walks and no hits.

Eagle River (8-1, 2-0 CIC) won the first game of the doubleheader 15-4 in a non-league affair against Bartlett (5-5, 0-2 CIC).

Chugiak 7, Service 0
Jayden Steckel pitched 5.1 innings and combined with reliever Landon Luebke on a 3-hit shutout at Mulcahy Stadium.

Steckel allowed three hits and three walks while striking out three. As the No. 3 hitter, he scored a run and also had an RBI.

Luebke recorded the final 1.2 innings and drove in a run with a sac fly.

Tyler Cage had two RBIs, Andrew Gruszynski went 2-for-4 and Fisher Sims scored twice for Chugiak (6-3, 2-0 CIC). 

Jake Rafferty, Coen Niclai and Landon Martindale had base hits for Service (6-4, 0-2 CIC), which won the first game of the doubleheader with a 9-6 non-league victory.

South 15, Dimond 0
Kaden Bevegni had five of his team's 11 RBIs - including four in the Wolverines' 12-run first inning at Mulcahy Stadium.

The No. 3 hitter had an RBI groundout and three-run, bases-clearing double to the gap in right center as South sent 17 batters to the plate and faced three Dimond pitchers.

Oliver Brown, Curtis Hebert, Ben Neuberger, Gavin Partch and Luke Ivanoff also had RBIs for South (11-0, 2-0 CIC).

Ivanoff had a pinch-hit two-bagger to the left center gap. Bevegni, Curtis Hebert, Ben Neuberger and Partch strung together four hits in five South plate appearances for the finishing touches of the big first frame.

Isaac Johnson gave up one hit and two walks while striking out five batters in three innings of work.

Dimond's Logan Smith had the lone base knock for the Lynx (1-6, 0-2 CIC).

West 13, East 2

Caden Greenlaugh and Cyrus Clendaniel combined for seven RBIs and the Eagles flew away with their first CIC league win at Bartlett High School.

The game was tied 1-1 through the first four innings before the West bats woke up, plating a dozen runs over the final three frames.

West starter Michael Tillman threw a 3-hit gem with 14 strikeouts in seven innings.

Greenhalgh went 2-for-3 with four RBIs and two runs. Clendaniel was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a pair of runs.

Orion Halliburton was 2-for-3 with three runs and two RBIs for West (3-8, 1-1 CIC), which also claimed the nightcap to sweep the doubleheader.

Willy Nunez went 2-for-4 with a run and RBI. He also pitched 1.1 innings for East (3-6, 1-1 CIC).

CIC League Day 3: Chugiak, South both victorious

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 6, 2022

Chugiak 6, Dimond 5

Pitchers Preston Rau and Gabe Gruszynski combined to shut down the Lynx over the four innings, which allowed the Mustangs hang around before rallying in the late stages at Mulcahy Stadium.

Chugiak plated three runs in the top of the sixth inning to complete the comeback with Gruszynski scoring the winning run and earning the save.

Gruszynski, hitting in the 8 hole, went 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs on his two-run double in the second inning. He also threw a hitless two innings of relief and struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Rau pitched five innings and earned the win for Chugiak (5-2, 1-0 CIC), thanks to his team's go-ahead rally late. Hunter Rau went 2-for-3 with a two-out RBI single in the fifth inning.

Tyler Cage and Michael Boudreau got the sixth-inning rally started with back-to-back singles. Later, back-to-back throwing errors by Dimond allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to score.

Dimond got RBIs from Luke Hoen and Joe Moriarty and doubles from Hoen and Eli Lipinski. Moriarty, the catcher, threw out a baserunner in the third and shortstop Alex Bruce chopped down a run at the plate in the sixth inning with a nice throw on the move, his specialty.

Lipinski started and struck out seven batters over six innings. Only three of the six runs he surrendered were earned as the Lynx (1-5, 0-1 CIC) continue to stub their toe this season with five errors.

South 15, West 0

Gavin Partch and Ben Neuberger combined for seven RBIs at Mulcahy Stadium to lead an 11-hit attack for the Wolverines, which broke the state record with their 28th straight victory.

Partch was 1-for-2 with a sac fly in the first inning and a three-run, bases-clearning double in the third inning.

Neuberger drove in runs in each of the first, second and third innings on a sac fly, groundout and single.

Oliver Brown tripled and scored twice, Luke Beard was 2-for-3 with three runs and an RBI, and Kaden Bevegni went 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI.

South (10-0, 1-0 CIC) pitches Luke Ivanoff and Luke Beard did not allow a base hit over five innings of work.

It was a night to forget for West (1-8, 0-1 CIC), which had more errors (5) than baserunners (3).

CIC League Day 2: Eagle River erupts in 8-3 win

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 5, 2022

Eagle River 8, Service 3

Josh Thompson's two-run inside-the-park home run highlighted a six-run sixth inning that carried the Wolves to an 8-3 win at Mulcahy Stadium.

Shut out for the first three innings, Eagle River (6-1, 1-0 CIC) erupted for runs in each of the final three innings, making a winner out of relief pitcher Alex Mullen.

Mullen had a day - he allowed just one run over three innings on the mound and went 2-for-2 with a run and RBI at the plate.

Thompson ripped a shot over the right-fielder's head and zoomed around the bases, losing his helmet between second and third base before racing home to complete a rare stand-up inside-the-park homer. 

Karson Kolberg laced to left field a two-run single and Charlie Wallace split the gap in right center for an RBI double in the bottom of sixth inning.

Service pulled closer on Coen Niclai's RBI triple in the top of the seventh.

Sebastian Fournier was 3-for-3 and James Ivey was 3-for-4 with a double to lead an eight-hit attack by the Cougars (5-3, 0-1 CIC).

Starter Jake Rafferty pitched five innings and received a no decision after leaving with the game tied 2-2.

Eagle River has won the last four meetings against Service, which still leads the all-time series 13-7 dating back to 2007.

CIC League Day 1: East comes out swinging in opener

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 4, 2022

East 18, Bartlett 8
Austin Johnson went 5-for-5 with 5 RBIs to highlight a 17-hit attack as East battered Bartlett 18-8 in six innings in the CIC league opener at Mulcahy Stadium.

All nine T-birds got a base hit on a night when East put up 7-run crooked numbers in each of the third and sixth innings.

Johnson hit a double and four singles, scored three runs and stole two bags. His big night started with a two-out, two-run single in the third inning.

That was part of a string of seven straight hits by East (3-4, 1-0 CIC).

Kenton Cooke went 2-for-3 with 4 RBIs and Willy Nunez went 3-for-5 with 2 RBIs and 3 runs. Cooke doubled off the left-field wall to give the T-birds the lead for good at 5-3.

Bartlett's Brad Beals carried the offense with a 2-for-4, 4-RBI performance. He also pitched the only scoreless frame among the three pitchers for the Golden Bears (4-3, 0-1 CIC).

Nick Brandahl, Carl Colavecchio and Luke Helgeson each scored a pair of runs. Colavecchio also turned an unassisted 8-4 double play in center field.

Next level: Barajas,Lincoln,Nevells,Frederick,Buckmaster

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 1, 2022

Ketchikan’s Wyatt Barajas pulled double duty for Clackamas Community College in a 3-1 victory in the NWAC.

The sophomore standout pitched eight shutout innings, hit an RBI double and scored the winning run to carry his team over Chemeketa and snap its 13-game losing skid.

Barajas allowed four hits and zero walks while striking out three batters — two in the first inning and his final batter in the eighth.

He gave up consecutive singles to start the game but escaped the jam on his way to retiring 14 straight batters. His two-out hit batsman in the fifth inning was the first baserunner to reach since the first inning. After having runners at second and third in the first, Chemeketa didn’t get another runner into scoring position until the seventh inning.

Barajas finished 2-for-4 at the plate and highlighted Clackamas’ two-run second inning with an RBI and run scored. In the second game of the doubleheader, he played first base and went 2-for-5 in a 9-8 win.

The Southeast slugger is batting .241 in 28 games with three home runs and 17 RBIs.

On the mound, Barajas has posted a 2-3 record in seven appearances and 5.01 ERA over a career-high 41.1 innings. This was his best outing of the season and continued a strong stretch that has seen him throw scoreless frames in 16 of his last 19 innings.

He also went eight innings April 7 in a 3-2 loss to South division frontrunner Linn-Benton.

At Macalester College, Anchorage’s Lian Lincoln is hitting .380 in 21 games for the NCAA Division III school in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

He’s already had three games with 3 hits and four games with 2 hits this season, and reached the 70-hit career benchmark. His longest hit streak was six games.

The senior outfielder has scored 11 runs, two shy of his career high.

Lincoln (South) – a former CIC MVP – is batting .310 in 71 career games on 71-for-229 hitting.

At Doane University, Chugiak’s Justin Nevells raised his batting average to .346 in 41 games after going 2-for-4 in Game 2 of a doubleheader against Mount Marty in NAIA action.

He saw his 10-game hit streak come to an end in Game 1, so he started a new one in Game 2.

Nevells (Chugiak) has produced 6 home runs, 32 RBIs and 39 runs.

He’s had some huge games – two triples against SAGU, six hits against Briar Cliff, 4 RBIs against York and Dakota Wesleyan.

At Findlandia University, Eagle River’s Christian Frederick has lifted his batting average 48 points over the last four games with a 5-for-11 hot streak.

The senior third baseman is now hitting .298 in 17 games, his highest average since March 27.

Frederick has recorded six RBIs on the season, with three of them coming in the last three games.

At Pierce College, Balas Buckmaster of Anchorage is enjoying a sold season with 26 runs in 35 games and a career-best 14 stolen bases.

He also surpassed the 60-run benchmark for his career and has touched home plate 61 times in 71 career games in the NWAC.

Buckmaster (East) has produced 45 RBIs despite only having 10 career extra-base hits, which speaks to his ability to be clutch and come through with runners in scoring position.

He can play second base and center field and owns a .961 career fielding percentage with 44 assists.

The former Wasilla Legion Post 35 all-star has nice range in center and isn’t afraid to sell out to make the play.

Notebook:Johnson, Childs, Sugita, Gatter shine in college

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Apr 28, 2022

Parker Johnson has worked his way into the starting rotation for Western Oregon University, where he has emerged as one of the best pitchers in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

The junior right-hander from Anchorage leads the league in wins with a 7-3 record in 12 appearances and has racked up 38 strikeouts and a 4.03 ERA in 44.2 innings.

Johnson is holding hitters to a .257 batting average, which ranks sixth in the GNAC, a NCAA Division II league.

He’s one of only three GNAC pitchers this year to throw a shutout, thanks to the 1-hitter he threw April 2 against Saint Martin’s.

Two weeks later he pitched into the seventh inning in an 8-7 victory over Central Washington.

Johnson (South) is coming off a tough 3-1 loss to Northwest Nazarene after allowing just two runs in 4.1 innings of work. That’s what it takes to beat the Alaskan lately as it snapped his personal three-game win streak.

He transferred to Western Oregon from NAIA Indiana Wesleyan, where he posted a 3-3 record and 7.40 ERA in 26 appearances.

He’s looked like a different pitcher for the Wolves, doubling his win total and taking three runs off his ERA.

Buoyed by Johnson, Western Oregon (28-16) sits atop the GNAC standings with an 18-10 league record, one game better than Central Washington (25-19, 17-11), going into the final two weeks of the season.

The GNAC regular season wraps up May 6 and then the GNAC Tournament starts a week later.

CHILDS EARNS FIRST SAVE
Anchorage’s Jaren Childs deserves a lot of credit for his stick-to-itiveness at Corban University.

College baseball isn’t for the faint of heart, especially for a pitcher. Teams carry a staff of two dozen, so getting on the field is tough and long gaps in between appearances can be frustrating.

Childs is in his third season with the NAIA team out of Oregon and this year has been the best for the right-hander, who recorded his first save in a 7-4 victory over Oregon Tech.

He closed out the game with four scoreless innings on just 27 pitches. It was his longest and most effective performance in 16 career appearances.

Childs (Service) is somewhat of an escape artist.

Take the game against Eastern Oregon when he entered the game with the bases loaded and nobody out. The first out he recorded was a strikeout looking. And even though he gave up a run on a fielder’s choice he struck out six batters over three innings.

SUGITA GOES BIG FLY
Anchorage’s Terren Sugita hit his 10th career home run for Vermilion Community College after the sophomore first baseman blasted a two-run dinger in a 4-2 victory over Hibbing at the NJCAA Division III level.

This was his first homer since March 3.

The cleanup hitter is batting .275 this year with two home runs and 22 RBIs in 23 games.

Sugita (South) hit eight bombs last year, powering him into double figures for his career.

Other college players from Alaska with exactly 10 home runs include Tyler Hasbrouck (Service), Aaron Cohen (Juneau), Scooter Bynum (Monroe) and Matthew Palmer (Colony).

GATTER ON 11-GAME HIT STREAK
Ricky Gatter of Anchorage has been on a tear in April.

The Skagit Valley College shortstop has gotten a hit in all 11 games this month to piece together the longest hitting streak of his collegiate career.

Gatter (South) is batting .341 during with 10 RBIs over his 11-game hit streak.

Skagit Valley is 7-4 over that stretch as the team has made a playoff push.

In 28 games this season, Gatter is hitting .263 with 20 RBIs, 20 runs and 11 stolen bases.

Alaska Legion tryout dates released for 2022 season

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Apr 28, 2022

Interested in playing American Legion Baseball in Alaska this summer?

Here is tryout information as well as a contact for each team's Post Manager.

The Alaska Legion season kicks off May 28 and continues all the way through late July's postseason tournaments.

Bartlett Post 29
Tryout Details: May 3 6pm @BHS
Post Manager: Mike Williams
Phone: 350-6869
Email: 44mtwill44@gmail.com

Chugiak Post 33
Tryout Details: May 5 6pm @BHS
Post Manager: Richard Steckel
Phone: 830-2816
Email: snopro@mtaonline.net

Dimond Post 21
Tryout Details: May 3 730pm @BHS
Post Manager: John Bruce
Phone: 440-2286
Email: bruce_john@asdk12.org

Eagle River
Tryout Details: Contact coach
Post Manager: Kurby Olmstead
Phone: 903-5860
Email: kurby_o@hotmail.com

East Post 34
Tryout Details: May 6 6pm @BHS
Post Manager: Halquay Hauoli
Phone: 830-3751
Email: hauoli-knutson_halquay@asdk12.org

Fairbanks 49ers
Tryout Details: May 15 & May 22 2pm @Marlin
Post Manager: Rodney Perdue
Phone: 978-1995
Email: rperdue16@gmail.com

Juneau Post 25
Tryout Details: Contact coach
Post Manager: Jeremy Ludeman
Phone: 723-9505
Email: jeremy@juneauak.org

Kenai Post 20
Tryout Details: Contact coach
Post Manager: Robb Quelland
Phone: 398-0871
Email: bdrak1@yahoo.com

Ketchikan Post 3
Tryout Details: Contact coach
Post Manager: John Milner
Phone: 220-7453
Email: redmilner@gmail.com

North Pole Post 30
Tryout Details: May 15 & May 22 12pm @ARCO
Post Manager: Raymond Pulsifer
Phone:388-4255
Email: rlpulsifer@yahoo.com

Palmer Post 25
Tryout Details: Contact coach
Post Manager: Matt Ketchum
Phone: 229-8558
Email: matt@khcivil.com

Service Post 28
Tryout Details: May 4 730pm @BHS
Post Manager: Willie Paul
Phone: 280-8439
Email: williepaul1@live.com

South Post 4
Tryout Details: May 1 2pm @SHS
Post Manager: Terry Dannenbring
Phone: 360-0075
Email: terrydannenbring1@gmail.com

Wasilla Post 35
Tryout Details: May 1 & May 15 1pm @WHS

Post Manager: Chad Weber
Phone: 748-3409
Email: cweber601@gmail.com

West Post 1
Tryout Details: May 4 6pm @BHS
Post Manager: Chad Stolp
Phone: 382-7245
Email: chadstolp@gmail.com

Maltby goes yard twice in 13-6 win for Hesston College

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Apr 20, 2022

Anchorage’s Dylan Maltby continues to flex on NJCAA pitching.

The Hesston College freshman catcher crushed two home runs in a 13-6 victory over Highland Community College to strengthen his power numbers while batting from the middle of the order.

Fifteen of his 34 hits have gone for extra bases, raising his slugging percentage to .583, which ranks fourth on the team.

“My hitting coach here at Hesston is legit and knows what he is talking about,” Maltby said. “He has helped transform my swing into something I couldn’t even imagine having in high school.”

The former Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year out of South Anchorage High has racked up 11 doubles, one triple and three home runs.

“My swing has definitely changed for the better,” Maltby said.

This was the first time he went yard twice in the same game since he was 14.

“It felt really good to get both of them,” Maltby said. “Even though they were my only two hits of the day, they were big ones.”

Both home runs came on fastballs over the outer third of the plate.

“I get a lot of fastballs being the 6-hole hitter,” he said.

Maltby raised his batting average to .354 and his RBI count to 31 in 39 games.

“I think I’ve improved a lot since I’ve been here,” Maltby said. “But I have improved mostly just as a ballplayer, not any specific trait but just as a whole ballplayer. I feel like this is the most rounded form of myself and I’m very proud of the feeling.”

Hesston (16-28) improved to 7-1 when Maltby drives in two runs or more.

“This season has been a roller coaster of sorts as our team hasn’t performed the best that I truly believe that we can, while at the same time I am succeeding in what I do as a player so it’s been an up and down feeling of emotions,” he said.

Maltby has also walked 23 times to help bolster a .492 on-base percentage, which ranks second among Hesston players.

“I have learned a lot of small things from this season for sure,” he said, “but the most important thing I think I’ve learned is to be patient and trust the process because there will be a reward for your hard work.”

Steffensen passes Bynum for most college hits by Alaskan

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Apr 18, 2022

Paul Steffensen is the new hits king of Alaska.

The St. Cloud State senior outfielder from Kenai collected his 231st hit over the weekend to pass Scooter Bynum of Fairbanks for the top spot on Alaska’s all-time hits list for college players.

Steffensen’s go-ahead base knock came on a two-run single in the first inning of a 7-1 victory over Southwest Minnesota State to break Bynum’s record that had stood since 2018.

Steffensen got there in 183 games, 21 fewer than Bynum.

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Steffensen wrapped up the weekend series with another single to give him 232 hits all-time.

He has recorded 79 hits in two seasons at NCAA Division I St. Cloud, seven in a COVID-shortened season at NCAA Division I Tennessee Tech and 146 in two seasons at Mesa Community College.

The Peninsula slugger came out swinging in his first season in 2018, opening his college career with a state record 26-game hit streak.

That season at Mesa he finished with 86 hits – the most in a single season for an Alaskan in college – and batted .398 in 56 games to finish second for the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference batting title.

He hit .319 in 50 games his second season at Mesa. In his only season at Tennessee Tech, he hit .293 in eight games. Then he came to St. Cloud, where he batted .316 in 36 games last season and is hitting .293 in 33 games this season.

Bynum was the boss of his era – the state’s first Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year in both baseball and basketball as a senior at Monroe Catholic in 2014.

The speedy outfielder collected 230 hits in 204 career games.

He started his college career at Arizona Western College – the same Arizona league Steffensen played in – and had 125 hits in 101 games. He hit a career-best .351 in 2016, with his 65 hits that season being the sixth-most for an Alaskan.

He then went to NCAA Division I Northern Illinois, where he rapped out another 105 hits.

HITS LEADERS FOR COLLEGE PLAYERS FROM ALASKA
232 – Paul Steffensen, St. Cloud State/Tennessee Tech/Mesa 2018-2022
230 – Scooter Bynum, Northern Illinois/Arizona Western 2015-2018
228 – Rob Conway, Iowa State/Mendocino 1998-2001
212 – Pat Floyd, Pacific/Southwestern 1987-1991
202 – Lance Ibesate, Jamestown/ Shasta 2013-2016

Nevells goes 6-for-7 to tie Doane University hits record

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Apr 11, 2022

Chugiak’s Justin Nevells had a dream day at the plate for Doane University during the second game of a NAIA doubleheader in Sioux City, Iowa.

The freshman third baseman went 6-for-7 with four RBIs, including the game-winning hit on a two-out, two-run single in the 11th inning to secure a 14-12 win over Briar Cliff in the Great Plains Athletic Conference.

Nevells matched Doane’s single-game hits record set originally in 2010 by Anthony Hincy.

He reached base all seven times, scored twice and swiped a bag. Surely, he was the player of the game.

Nevells, of Chugiak High fame, lifted his batting average to .337 in 31 games. He’s added four home runs and 20 RBIs, with this being the third time he’s knocked in four in one game.

 

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He started the first game of the doubleheader and batted No. 7 in the order, going 1-for-3 in Doane’s 8-0 victory.

He was bumped up to the No. 6 hole for the second game and delivered one of the greatest hitting displays in school history.

It all started with an infield single in the second inning. In the third, he doubled and stole third. In the fourth, he batted in two runs with a single. He singled in the sixth and seventh innings.

in the 10th inning, Nevells reached base on an error and scored the go-ahead run to put Doane ahead 10-9. But Briar Cliff scored the equalizer in the bottom half.

In the 11th inning, with two outs, Nevells stayed hot with a two-run single that put his team ahead to stay.

Doane (26-7) swept the four-game series as the Alaskan went 8-for-15 with five RBIs.

Johnson spins 1-hit masterpiece for Western Oregon

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Apr 4, 2022

When Parker Johnson gave up a hit to the first batter of the game, the Western Oregon University pitcher from Anchorage might have thought he was in for a long day.

It was quite the opposite actually as Johnson retired 21 of the next 22 hitters to spin a sparkling one-hit shutout and highlight the Wolves’ 8-0 win over Saint Martin’s in the GNAC.

The junior right-hander struck out six and needed only 64 pitches to complete his seven-inning masterpiece.

After giving up that one hit on the second pitch of the game, Johnson sat down the next 14 straight and struck out the side in the second inning.

He gave up a two-out walk in the fifth inning and then ended the game by retiring the final seven batters, including two pinch-hitters in the seventh inning when Saint Martin’s tried everything and anything to throw the Alaskan off his game.

Johnson (South) continued his career year, improving to 5-2 and lowering his ERA to 2.45 in 29.1 innings across nine appearances with the NCAA Division II school.

This was his third appearance in which he allowed zero runs in at least four innings of work.

Johnson transferred to Western Oregon after appearing in 97 career games with NAIA Indiana Wesleyan, where he posted a 3-3 record and 7.40 ERA in 26 appearances on the mound and batted .265 with 15 extra-base hits in 234 at-bats.

 

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College notebook: Maltby, Steffensen, Johnson, Murphy

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Mar 10, 2022

Anchorage’s Dylan Maltby was a doubles machine when he played at South High.

He’s been in the same gear at Hesston College in Kansas.

The freshman infielder leads the NJCAA team with nine doubles in 19 games and ranks second on the Larks with a .377 batting average on 20-for-53 hitting.

The 2021 Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year has made a seamless transition to the college level.

Maltby has reached base in 17 of 19 games with a hit or walk, buoying his team-leading .393 on-base percentage.

He’s tied for third on the team with 14 RBIs and his 28 total bases rank fourth.

Maltby has split time between catcher and third base, and even played a game at first base. He’s made 44-of-47 chances for a .936 fielding percentage.

At St. Cloud State, Paul Steffensen of Kenai blasted his second home run of the season and the 17th bomb of his college career.

The senior outfielder is hitting .341 with nine RBIs in 11 games with the NCAA Division II team in Minnesota.

Steffensen (Kenai Central) went 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs in a wild 16-15 win over UC-Colorado Springs. His two-run dinger made it 5-0 in the third inning and his run-scoring single pushed St. Cloud’s cushion to 13-6 in the seventh inning.

He now has 210 career hits, moving within two hits of matching Pat Floyd (Kodiak) for No. 3 on Alaska’s all-time college baseball hits list.

MOST HITS COLLEGE CAREER BY ALASKAN
230 – Scooter Bynum (Fairbanks) Northern Illinois/ Arizona Western 2015-2018
228 – Rob Conway (Juneau) Iowa State/Mendocino 1998-2001
212 – Pat Floyd (Kodiak) Pacific/Southwestern 1987-1991
*210 – Paul Steffensen (Kenai) St. Cloud State/Tennessee Tech/Mesa 2018-2022
202 – Lance Ibesate (Juneau) Jamestown/Shasta 2013-2016
*Active

At Western Oregon University, Anchorage’s Parker Johnson has been dialed in on the mound.

The junior pitcher has posted a 3-1 record and 2.70 ERA in six appearances with the NCAA Division II team.

Johnson (South) was absolutely dealing against Montana State-Billings when he struck out four batters of 4.1 innings of scoreless relief to highlight a 2-1 victory.

The right-hander had a similar lights-out performance against Stanislaus State when he threw 4.2 innings of scoreless relief with four Ks in a 4-1 win.

Johnson transferred to the GNAC from Indiana Wesleyan University, where last season he pitched 16.2 innings in 14 games. He’s already logged 13.1 innings in half as many appearances for Western Oregon and bettered his win total in the process.

He owns a 15-to-4 strikeout to walk ratio.

Staying in the GNAC, Wasilla’s Nolan Murphy just picked up his first winning decision for Central Washington.

The freshman pitcher tossed two-plus innings in his team’s 14-9 victory over Northwest Nazarene.

Murphy was in the right place, right time, benefitting from Central Washington’s five-run sixth inning rally to go up 13-7.

He worked around a leadoff walk in the fifth inning, thanks to a double play. And he worked around a two-out hit batsman in the sixth.

He started the seventh but was chased after allowing the first four batters to reach. Only two of the runs scored.

Murphy (Wasilla) owns a 3.72 ERA with five strikeouts in 9.2 innings across six appearances.

Jessee slams door against 4th-ranked Oklahoma State

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Mar 5, 2022

Gonzaga pitcher Brody Jessee of Anchorage blew the doors off Oklahoma State with 3.2 innings of shutout relief to secure a 2-1 victory over the fourth-ranked team in the country on its home field.

The sophomore flamethrower struck out seven of the 13 batters he faced and OSU went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position against him across the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth innings.

His fastball was pure heat as he was clocked as high as 97 mph on the radar gun in front of a big crowd at O'Brate Stadium.

“I had a lot of adrenaline from the crowd and situation,” he said. “It was a blast.”

Jessee, of South High fame, was dropped into hot water when he entered in the seventh inning with runners at first and second and one out in a 1-1 game.

It was a huge moment that could have gotten away from him after he was called for a balk to move the runners into scoring position.

He struck out cleanup hitter Nolan McLean on five pitches and 5-hole hitter Caeden Trenkle on three to escape the jam.

Jessee retired McLean and Trenkle again in the ninth inning with the go-ahead runner at third base.

McLean was ranked No. 66 on mlb.com’s prospect rankings in 2020 and Trenkle was an All-Big-12 selection in 2021.

Shutting down two big-time sluggers two times on enemy turf was a huge moment for Jessee.

 

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“I think today it was just important to remember that baseball is fun and that I’m in control when I’ve got the ball, so I just took deep breaths and executed what was called,” he said.

Jessee ended three of four innings with a strikeout, including the eighth when he worked around a leadoff walk after a sac bunt and back-to-back Ks.

Gonzaga’s Stephen Lund homered in the top of the tenth inning to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead.

The Alaskan closed it out with a 1-2-3 final frame to help Gonzaga clinch the series win against the fourth-ranked Cowboys.

Jessee picked up the winning decision to improve to 4-0 in 21 career appearances.

His fastball was electric, but his slider was good, too, helping the right-hander record 11 swing and misses.

“Off-speeds felt iffy but just trusted them and it turned out good, and fastball had good run today,” Jessee said.

The Bulldogs (9-2) are now winners of six straight, with a chance to secure their first-ever series sweep against a Top-Five team on Sunday.

“I didn’t necessarily think of it as a signature moment, but more so as a moment that will define the momentum of our season,” Jessee said. “I’m beyond happy we were able to grit out a win.”

Cook Inlet Conference high school registration now open

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Mar 1, 2022

With the official start of high school baseball on Wednesday, March 2, we wanted to remind everyone that all paperwork must be completed with the school prior to participating. 

This includes registering on www.planeths.com, submitting a current physical, and signing the numerous forms on the website. 

Players will not be allowed to participate until those items are completed and each school approves the player. 

Reminder that baseball in Anchorage is an outsourced sport, talk to your coach before paying any fees. 

Following tryouts, which may not be completed until after spring break, each player will be required to register on www.alaskalegion.com, which operates Cook Inlet Conference baseball on behalf of the Anchorage School District.  

Players will not be allowed to participate after April 1 if they have not registered.  We look forward to a great high school season.

Steffensen fifth Alaska college player with 200 hits

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Feb 19, 2022

The Kenai Peninsula is a small community with a big-time reputation for producing elite baseball players.

It’s time to add Paul Steffensen to the list.

The Kenai slugger this week became the fifth baseball player from Alaska – and first from the Peninsula – to bang out 200 base hits in college.

“It’s just a really cool thing. I really had no idea,” he said. “When you think about all of the hours you put in and all the effort you put in, it’s nice to have some result for it.”

Steffensen owns exactly 200 hits over three levels of college baseball – 47 at NCAA Division II St. Cloud State, 7 at D1 Tennessee Tech and 146 at Mesa Community College – and has a real shot at breaking the state record for career hits.

MOST HITS COLLEGE CAREER BY ALASKAN
230 – Scooter Bynum (Fairbanks) Northern Illinois/ Arizona Western 2015-2018
228 – Rob Conway (Juneau) Iowa State/Mendocino 1998-2001
212 – Pat Floyd (Kodiak) Pacific/Southwestern 1987-1991
202 – Lance Ibesate (Juneau) Jamestown/Shasta 2013-2016
*200 – Paul Steffensen (Kenai) St. Cloud State/Tennessee Tech/Mesa 2018-2022
179 – Cliff Anderson (Kodiak) Chapman/Southwestern 1989-1992
178 – Damon Stokes (Anchorage) LeTourneau 2002-2006
169 – Aaron Cohen (Juneau) Whitman 2011-2014
166 – Joe Kohan (Juneau) Nevada 2009-2012
163 – Aaron Miller (Anchorage) Mayville State 2013-2016
*Active

Steffensen said his success is a result of a collection of things.

“First off, God has given me a gift. I’m extremely blessed, having an athletic gift that I’m able to use in college,” he said. “My family has always supported me ever since I was a little kid with sports, so I think having the family support, especially my parents, has been huge for me. And I’ve had great coaches.”

From the very start, Steffensen came out swinging a hot bat as he started his college career in 2018 with a state record 26-game hit streak.

He hit .398 that season for Mesa in 54 games, with his 86 hits being the most at the college level for an Alaskan. He hit .319 in 60 games as a sophomore.

At Mesa, Steffensen got his first taste of college baseball and was forced to make adjustments against better competition than he faced in Alaska.

His approach had to change, especially when it came to hitting the ball the other way with power.

“When you’re facing guys who throw harder and have better off-speed stuff, I think you have to stay up the middle and you can’t be pulling off sliders away and fastballs away, trying to pull everything,” he said. “So, for me, staying middle and away and then trying to time up the fastball, it’s been huge.”

Steffensen’s time at Tennessee Tech saw him hit .292 in eight games in a season cut short because of COVID.

Last season, he hit .316 in 35 games in his first year at St. Cloud State.

Despite all the changes in scenery, Steffensen has managed to keep his swing the same.

“I’ve definitely tinkered with my mechanics throughout college and had some different things I’ve worked on,” he said. “But for the most part my swing has not changed a whole lot since high school.”

Steffensen is the latest in the line of baseball stars out of the Kenai Peninsula.

“To have your name thrown around with names like that, it’s a special thing,” he said. “That’s an exciting thing. It’s really, really cool to hear that and have my name thrown around with some of the greats.”

  • Marshall Boze, Soldotna

First Alaskan to play in MLB in 1996; Owns MLB save; Started 58 Triple-A games; Shares AK Legion record with 21Ks in game

  • Chris Mabeus, Soldotna

Third Alaskan to play in MLB in 2006; Posted 13 career wins at Triple-A; Owns state record with 34 pro saves

  • Joey Newby, Soldotna

One of eight Alaskans to reach Triple-A level; Second all-time among Alaskans with 590 innings at pro level from 2003 to 2014

  • Dennis Machado, Kenai

Drafted 42nd round by Montreal Expos in 1994; Keyed Post 20’s Legion state title in 1991; Pitched for Oilers

  • Mike Smith, Sterling

Only Alaska pitcher to record 10 wins and 8 saves at the NCAA Division I level during his career from 2002 to 2003

  • Kevin Stalker, Kenai

Only pitcher from Alaska with five 9-inning complete games at NCAA Division I level when he played at Eastern Washington from 1986 to 1988; Third in AK Legion history with 20Ks in game

  • Paul Steffensen, Kenai

First Kenai Peninsula batter to record 200 college hits; Most prolific college home hitter from the Peninsula (16)

Wanted: Wasilla Post 35 Legion needs new manager

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Feb 12, 2022

Alaska Legion Baseball of Alaska is looking for a volunteer manager to head the Wasilla Post 35 Legion baseball program.

Preferred candidate would have Head Coaching experience, or 3 years as an assistant coach. Experienced with high school age athletes. Must be able to work with the program’s business agent. Must follow and comply with all rules and policies of the American Legion, Anchorage School District and ASAA.

The person selected must promote good sportsmanship, mentorship and understand their role in guiding the student athlete.

Must have NFHS Certificates for completing the following courses:
Fundamentals of Coaching
Concussion in Sports
Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Current First Aid Training Certificate

Must be able to pass the American Legion required Background Check (Renew Annually on January 1)
Must complete American Legion required Young Victim Abuse Training (Renew Annually on January 1)

If interested, please send resume to Jim Pisa of Post 35. Email: chfbgdg@aol.com

Alaska baseball loses legend with passing of Don Rabung

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Nov 21, 2021

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Don Rabung, one of the founding fathers of high school baseball in Alaska, has passed away. He was 85.

A former professional pitcher in the Cleveland Indians farm system in 1950s, Rabung brought his love of the game to Alaska and shared it with hundreds of young men as a coach and then as an official with the American Legion of Alaska.

Rabung was a longtime Legion district director and preached honor and honesty.

“He was a man of little words but when he spoke you listened and he was probably right,” his grandson Wesley wrote on Facebook.

In 1992, Rabung and Earl Davis were key figures in getting high school baseball off the ground in Alaska. It started with the Cook Inlet Conference and grew, with ASAA creating a state tournament in 2000.

“I didn’t think it would grow to the extend it is now,” Rabung told me in 2012. “It’s good for the kids, and that’s what you got to look at.”

Rabung played two seasons of pro ball, lacing 'em up for Class B Yakima of the Northwest League in 1955 and Class A Montgomery and Knoxville in the South Atlantic League in 1956.

He posted a respectable 3.45 ERA in 352 innings during an era when a starting pitcher finished the job, as evidence of his 18 complete games in 43 career starts.

Rabung compiled a pro record of 16-24 with 260 strikeouts in 59 appearances.

“I never did make it to ‘The Bigs,’” he said. “I was just one of those guys not good enough to make it, but at least I had a chance.”

Rabung didn’t give up on baseball, instead putting himself in position to create a path for the next generation.

He led Dimond Post 21 to back-to-back Legion state championships in 1986 and 1987.

Ken Wooster was a member of Rabung’s coaching staff and credited the man for inspiring him to become a coach himself.

“I loved that old man,” Wooster said. “We lost one of the great ones. Old school in the best sense of the phrase.

“I am heartbroken for his family and friends regarding this loss but know he has been reunited with the person he missed the most, his wife Dianne.”

They were married for more than 50 years.

“He was a great man,” said longtime Alaska coach Tony Wylie. “He was old school, respected the game like we’re supposed to and a great pitcher in his day.”

In 2012, Cook Inlet Conference baseball directors Steve Nerland and Don Winchester renamed the league’s MVP award in his honor – the Don Rabung CIC MVP Award.

“I told coaches, ‘Your program is only as good as your integrity,’” he said in 2012. “If it’s all about winning you kind of lose sight what you should be teaching those young kids; how to handle adversity because in baseball there’s a lot of adversity.

“Once you learn how to handle that then it becomes a life skill and it helps you in your everyday life.”

Clendaniel plays in MLB's Girls Breakthrough Series

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Nov 18, 2021

Anchorage’s Athena Clendaniel felt like a big leaguer at last week’s Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series at the Texas Rangers Youth Academy.

She hung out with former Major League Baseball players in the morning and played games in the afternoon at Choctaw Stadium, formerly called The Ballpark in Arlington, where the Rangers called home from 1994 to 2019.

“We changed in the locker rooms and then we walked out of the dugout and onto the field,” she said by phone. “It was insane. It was pretty much like the major league experience.”

Clendaniel, a senior at West High, was among 32 players from around the country who were invited to participate in the Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series, which was created in 2018.

The cost-free event was a joint effort of USA Baseball and MLB that provided players with elite instruction and development opportunities.

The group was split in half to form two 16-girl rosters that played four games. Clendaniel pitched a total of four innings and struck out two batters. She also played a little first base and got one base hit in her three at-bats.

“I held my own,” she said.

Clendaniel is a starting varsity player for West’s high school and Post 1 American Legion teams.

She is just the third girl in the 30-year history of Cook Inlet Conference baseball to be a starting player for a team in the traditionally all-boys league.

Bartlett’s Wandee Murray was the first girl to start a varsity CIC game in 1995. Eagle River’s Lauren Frost was the first girl to be voted all-conference in 2013.

Clendaniel might be the best pitcher in that group. A junk baller who primarily throws off-speed pitches, she nibbles around the corners of the plate and induces lots of ground balls.

At the MLB camp, she made two appearances on the mound and allowed one hit, two walks and zero earned runs.

“I think one of the main reasons I was there was because of my pitching, so I was glad that I pitched well,” Clendaniel said.

In 2018, the Alaskan participated at the MLB Trailblazers Series. In 2020, she was supposed to compete at the MLB Elite Development Program but it was canceled due to COVID. To be back in the MLB mix again this year meant the world to her.

“It was awesome,” she said. “This is the best of the best.”

Over just the last few years, Clendaniel has seen a major jump in the skill level of girls baseball players at these national camps.

“The competition level was really, really good,” she said. “I was talking to some of the coaches and telling them I would take the top nine girls there over my own team's defense any day and I think if you took the top 12 girls, they would be competitive in some of our tournaments if you put them on a team together.”

Clendaniel made some new friends, including USA National Team women's head coach Veronica Alvarez and former 20-year MLB pitcher LaTroy Hawkins.

She really hit it off with Hawkins, a fellow southpaw slinger.

“He says he wants to come visit Alaska and I told him I would have to find someone to take him hunting since that's not really my thing," Clendaniel said with a laugh.

“But it was definitely cool just being able to connect with major league players and knowing that they are supporting girls baseball.”

Alaskans impress with 4-1 showing at Arizona Fall Classic

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Oct 6, 2021

The Alaska Baseball Academy has traveled to the Arizona Senior Fall Classic for two decades and this year was maybe the best showing by the guys from The Last Frontier.

Led by Curtis Hebert and Oliver Brown, the Alaskans won four of five games against elite competition at the scout showcase.

This event provides players with a chance to be seen by NCAA Division I coaches as well as scouts with all 30 MLB teams.

“The boys really represented,” said longtime ABA manager Tony Wylie.

The Arizona Senior Fall Classic included 80 teams and featured many of the best high school players in the country.

Despite the steep opposition, the Alaska players stared down the competition.

“They never blinked,” Wylie said.

Class of 2022 all-stars Hebert and Brown of South High have both already signed with D1 teams and are among the early favorites for next season’s Alaska player-of-the-year award.

Hebert was named to the Area Code Games this summer and has signed with the University of Portland from the West Coast Conference.

Brown capped his busy summer at the Baseball Northwest Championships and has signed with Holy Cross College of the Patriot League.

Both players came to the Arizona Fall Classic riding a wave of momentum.

“Curtis Hebert and Oliver Brown have impressed the scouts the most,” Wylie said. “A few other pitchers, too.”

Other top players for Alaska included Wasilla’s Logan Bailey, South’s Kaden Bevegni and Ben Neuberger, Bartlett’s Carl Colavecchio and Eagle River’s Noah Lower.

Wylie is one of Alaska’s most successful managers with championships in high school and American Legion. He is currently a scout with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Spirit of Youth Award: Nominations open for 8 categories

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Sep 30, 2021

Spirit of Youth is seeking nominations in support of Alaskans ages 12 to 19 who are making a difference in our community and deserve recognition. Nominations can be submitted for an individual or a group.

The deadline is Dec. 31.

The Spirit of Youth Teen Advisory Council has created eight categories for nominations and recognition.

Nomination forms can be found at: here.

Individual award recipients will receive a scholarship from the UA College Savings Plan of at least $2,000 and eight runners-up will each receive a $500 scholarship. Group recipients receive a grant to support their efforts.

Here are the eight categories:

Humanitarian Award

The Humanitarian Award recognizes youth who have put forth efforts to make their community a better place or are active in local or state government. Previous nominees have managed political campaigns, served on school boards and youth courts, built and hosted campaign websites, or have organized fundraisers, designed play grounds, repaired houses, helped elders and others in need.

Innovator Award

The Innovator Award shines the spotlight on the efforts of youth who have shown excellence in the fields of math and science through research, study, or improvement in their community. Previous nominees include youth who studied humpback whale DNA, created a community planet walk, participated in robotics programs, and conducted earthquake research.

Life-Saver Award

The Live-Saver Award celebrates youth who have gone above and beyond “the call of duty” by preventing injuries and illness and saving lives. Previous nominees have shown courage by pulling hypothermic tourists out of a raging river, taught life-saving skills, conducted seat belt programs and served as volunteer firefighters or first responders.

Phoenix Award

The Phoenix Award celebrates youth who rise with new life like a phoenix and display exceptional determination and stamina as they overcome significant life challenges. Previous nominees have raised funds to help others with an illness, have succeeded despite disability, or helped their families or community address difficult circumstances.

Visionary Award

The Visionary Award recognizes youth who have turned their creativity and knowledge into an economic venture. Previous nominees have built and hosted websites and have even started their own movie theatres, coffee shops and delivery services.

Dreamer Award

The Dreamer Award recognizes teens who are actively engaging in their community through the preservation of cultural practices and arts, those who share personal expression through visual or performing arts, and those who cultivate youth voice through media and digital art forms. Previous nominees include students who have worked on radio programs and local newspapers, organized musical ensembles, and taught native arts and dance.

Role-Model Award

Teens nominated for the Role-Model Award lend a helping hand to peers and younger youth in their community. These teens can be outstanding leaders, peer counselors, or a positive assistant in the classroom.  Previous nominees have included tutors, mentors, or instructors in a variety of fields. These teens build assets in themselves and their friends.

Discovery Award

The Discovery Award highlights accomplishments made by youth in environmental advocacy projects and technology ventures. Previous nominees include youth who mapped the Kenai floodplain and worked to restore the Kenai River banks, as well as those who created relevant websites and taught computer skills in their communities.

Baker becomes ninth Alaskan to reach Triple-A level

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Sep 25, 2021

Dylan Baker of Juneau made the most out of his first Triple-A game.

The 29-year-old pitched two innings of relief and drew a walk in his only plate appearance with the Louisville Bats in a 13-10 loss to Indianapolis.

Baker became the ninth Alaskan to reach the Triple-A level and the second to record an out at pitcher and reach base as a batter in the same game. The first was Soldotna’s Joey Newby in 2011.

Baker entered the game in the second inning and faced the minimum six batters through two frames, striking out three.

The rocket right-hander now ranks No. 3 among pro pitchers from Alaska with 350 strikeouts, passing former Single-A pitcher Matt Way of Sitka (349) on the state’s all-time list. Way pitched professionally from 2009 to 2014.

In the top of the fourth inning, Baker drew a two-out, five-pitch walk in just his third plate appearance as a pro player dating back to 2012. This was the first time he had reached base.

In the bottom of the fourth, he was chased after allowing the first five batters to reach base without registering an out. He suffered the loss, dropping his career record to 21-26.

Baker was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the fifth round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of Western Nevada College.

He has played in the farm system for Cleveland, the Los Angeles Dodgers and now Cincinnati Reds over the years.

Baker returned to the Double-A level this season for the first time since 2018 after getting called up from an independent team in the American Association. He has started eight games among his 16 appearances with the Chattanooga Lookouts.

His eight starts at the Double-A level are the second most for an Alaskan, ranking behind only Soldotna’s Marshall Boze, who racked up 13 starts in Double-A and 58 starts in Triple-A during his pro career from 1990 to 2000.

Of the nine Alaskans to play at the Triple-A level, only three of them – Boze, Juneau’s Chad Bentz and Soldotna’s Chris Mabeus went on to play in the majors.

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Middle school practice schedule & coaches directory

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 25, 2021

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Padres reap benefits of converting Homza to catcher

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 14, 2021

When the San Diego Padres drafted Anchorage’s Jonny Homza in 2017, they picked him as a shortstop before trying him out at catcher.

He was a natural fit to catch with quick feet, a high baseball IQ and a cannon arm, but it was still a part-time gig. He was still being used as an infielder while he developed his skills behind the plate.

The experiment is over. The Homza Experience has begun.

The 22-year-old is in the midst of his first full season of full-time catching duties and has emerged as one of the most productive masked men among Padres’ minor leaguers.

Homza leads Fort Wayne TinCaps with a .355 on-base percentage and ranks second in batting average, home runs, RBIs and stolen bases.

The right-handed slugger put up a .903 OPS in his first 208 plate appearances and ranked among the top on-base plus slugging stat lines in the organization’s farm system.

He’s come back down to earth a little earth a little bit, but overall, his offensive numbers this season with the Class High-A TinCaps are the best of his five-year career.

But it’s Homza’s defensive stats that are turning heads.

He has allowed only one stolen base in his last 52 innings behind the plate and his ratio for passed balls has fallen off the table like a 12-to-6 curveball, going from 15 in 118 innings to just two in 370 innings.

Homza was drafted straight out of high school after being picked in the fifth round of the 2017 draft with the 138th pick, the second-highest Alaskan drafted by an MLB team.

Almost immediately, he started seeing time at catcher, despite never playing the position in high school.

In his first season of rookie ball, he played 30 games as an infielder and just 19 at catcher. That percentage jumped from 38 to 57 in his second season.

Today, he spends 77 percent of his time behind the dish.

Homza could always hit, but now he’s developed his defensive skills to make him a more complete player, which should translate into another promotion. Hitting catchers are rare and extremely valuable.

The Padres organization has traded several of its top minor-league catchers over the last few years in an attempt to bolster its MLB club’s playoff chances, which could open the door for the Alaskan to rise in the ranks.

Homza is a pure hitter with a line-drive swing. This year he’s added some pop with a career-high 16 doubles, three triples and six home runs in 67 games. His 39 RBIs nearly equal his production from his first two years as a pro when he combined for 41 in 2017 and 2018.

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Middle School Baseball is back! Players, coaches wanted

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 11, 2021

Middle School baseball for boys and girls is back. 

The league will return to play in August and September, with more than 300 kids making up two dozen teams from 10 middle schools in the Anchorage School District. 

Players & Coaches Wanted. First day of school is Aug. 19. Practices will begin Monday, Aug. 23, or sooner.

The first games are Saturday, Sept. 11.

All skill levels welcome to play.

Practices are after school. Games are on Saturdays.

Register your player today.

Players & Coaches Wanted.

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NWCART Title Game: Marsh (ID) 4, Gallatin (MT) 0

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 10, 2021

NWCART Title Game

Marsh Valley (ID) 4, Gallatin Valley (MT) 0

Southpaw Stanton Howell threw a 5-hit complete-game shutout and tournament MVP Payton Howe had his team's lone RBI on a double as Marsh Valley won the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

This was the third matchup between the two teams this week Anchorage, with Marsh Valley winning the last final two meetings after dropping a heartbreaker on Day 1.

Howell threw a masterpiece, retiring nine straight and 12 of 13 across the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. He never allowed a baserunner to reach third base and got a double play behind him in the first inning.

Howe continued his torrid hitting in the tournament with an RBI double in the bottom half of the first to get the party started. Howell helped his own cause after scoring from third on a passed ball in the third inning to make it 2-0.

Howell responded with 1-2-3 innings in in the third and fourth frames.

The Idaho state champs from Marsh Valley (41-4) plated a pair of runs on errors on the same play in the fourth to push the lead to 4-0. Karter Howell and Dylan Driessen each went 2-for-3. Driessen, James Bodily and Daxton Woodmancy scored runs.

Gallatin Valley starter Patrick Dietz didn’t pitch poorly – in fact, his performance would have been good enough to win on most days. He scattered six hits and three walks over six innings of work. Only one run he allowed was earned and he retired the final five batters he faced.

Gallatin Valley of Montana won the state title to qualify for NWCART and finished the season 59-23.

Marsh Valley is the fourth team from Idaho to win a NWCART championship – the third to do so in Anchorage. In 2007, it was Montpelier. In 2014, it was Pocatello. In 2021, it was Marsh Valley.

The Eagles came back after losing the first game on the first day to win the next five games by a combined score of 50-11. They got it done with a premier pitching staff that spun a two-man no-hitter in the semifinals and a one-man shutout in the finals.

NWCART Individual Awards

Gold Glove Award

James Bodily, Marsh Valley

Long and lean, this guy was a fielding machine. Whether it was shortstop or pitcher, if you hit the ball to him, you were out. He showcased a good arm and quick feet with more range than a Range Rover. He cashed in on 23 of 24 defensive chances and even picked off a dude.

Top Pitcher Award

Bo Hays, Gallatin Valley

When his team needed a big game, this right-hander got the call whether it was as a starter or closer. He struck out 9 batters in 5.1 innings in a Day 3 win. He closed out a Day 2 win with a save. He racked up 10 strikeouts in 6.1 innings and posted a sparkling 1.11 ERA. For the tournament he retired 16 of the 21 batters he faced. In other words, light out.

Big Stick Award

Braxton Foster, Marsh Valley

Some guys set the table but this slugger cleared it. He hit in the middle of the lineup and was usually in the middle of the action, finishing second in the tournament with 9 RBIs and ranking among the top two hitters with a .538 batting average. He collected two RBIs or more in four tournament games. That’s a season for some guys.

MVP Award

Payton Howe, Marsh Valley

It's not very often that a player hits a home run and almost throws a no-hitter in the same game. At a regional tournament? You gotta be kidding. But this guy was no joke. He mowed and he raked. He batted .455 and drove in a tournament high 10 RBIs. He had a 1.56 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 9 innings and did most of the heavy lifting on a combined no-hitter.

NWCART Game 14: Marsh Valley (ID) 14, Wasilla (AK) 1

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 10, 2021

NWCART Game 14

Marsh Valley (ID) 14, Wasilla (AK) 1

Wasilla lost the game but placed third in the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament - the highest finish among the five Alaska teams in the field. Wasilla has finished third and second in the last two NWCARTs – the greatest two-year postseason run by a team from Alaska.

One loss shouldn’t overshadow that.

Wasilla finished 3-2 in the tournament and scored Alaska’s lone win over an Outside team after dispatching Cody (WY) in a dramatic 11-10 nail-biter. The Road Warriors also eliminated Palmer and South. Wasilla’s only losses came to the Wyoming state champs on Day 1 and the Idaho state champs on Day 5.

It’s an incredible turnaround for a Wasilla squad that had finished the regular season ranked 10th out of 15 teams in Alaska.

This was the last Legion game for Wasilla head coach Ken Ottinger, who said he’s stepping away to focus on family and fishing next summer. Ottinger leaves behind quite the legacy as Wasilla went 23-7 in the postseason the last four seasons and in 2019 became the first Alaska team to advance to the championship game of a regional tournament.

Wasilla (16-17) had plenty of starts in this year’s NWCART title run.

Pedro Camacho hit .385 and threw out two baserunners, including one from his knees. Andre Brown batted .375 and had five RBIs. Alex Prayner led the team with seven RBIs. Nolan Murphy hit a home run and had five RBIs.

Marsh Valley – which went on to beat Gallatin Valley (MT) in the NWCART title game – got a 4-hitter from pitcher James Bodily. Payton Howe went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and Daxton Woodmancy doubled in a pair of runs for the Eagles (40-4).

NWCART Game 13: Marsh (ID) 6, Gallatin (MT) 1

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 9, 2021

NWCART Game 13

Marsh Valley (ID) 6, Gallatin Valley (MT) 1

Payton Howe hit a two-run home run, struck out 10 over six innings and combined with reliever Daxton Woodmancy on a no-hitter to keep his team alive in the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Howe pitched 1-2-3 innings in the third, fourth and sixth frames and had three batters reach base on dropped third strikes in the second, fifth and seventh frames. As a result, he was forced to get four outs in the second and fifth.

Nothing seemed to faze him. He was nails, pounding the strike zone and putting up nothing but goose eggs on the scoreboard. In the seventh, with his pitch count climbing, he struck out the first batter but the ball got away from the catcher to allow the runner to reach first. He walked the next two batters to load the bases.

Exit Howe. Enter Woodmancy.

Woodmancy immediately induced a groundball to third baseman Braxton Foster, who fielded the ball, stepped on third and fired a rocket across the diamond to first base to complete the 5-3 double play. A run scored on the play to break up the shutout, but Marsh Valley (39-4) will take a no-hitter, and more importantly, a tournament win to survive elimination.

Marsh Valley will take on Alaska’s lone representative, Wasilla, tomorrow at 12 noon with the winner taking on Gallatin Valley (59-22) in the championship game at approximately 3:30 p.m.

Gallatin Valley received an automatic berth to the final on the strength of its winner’s bracket victory against Cody (WY) earlier in the day between 2-0 teams.

For Marsh Valley, the win over Gallatin Valley extracted a measure of revenge for the Idaho state champs. On Day 1 of the NWCART, the Montana state champs rallied in the seventh inning to shock Marsh Valley.

If Howe wanted payback, he got it big time. In addition to being forced to get extra outs, he wiggled out trouble in the first inning with runners on second and third, and in the fifth when he got out of two-on, one-out jam in the fifth. He also got a nice twisting, turning catch from right fielder Jose Wisecarver in the sixth.

In the top of the seventh, Howe smacked a two-run bomb over the left-field wall. The ball doesn’t necessary carry well in Anchorage, especially when it was raining like tonight, so that tells you that Howe really got a hold of it.

NWCART Game 12: Wasilla (AK) 11, Cody (WY) 10

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 9, 2021

NWCART Game 12

Wasilla (AK) 11, Cody (WY) 10

Wasilla scored seven runs with two outs in the top of the seventh inning to erase an 8-4 deficit then hung on in the bottom half, ending the game on a 9-6 double play to eliminate the Cody Cubs from the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament.

Alex Prayner’s two-run single put the Road Warriors ahead for good at 9-8 and they tacked on two more on a Brandon Hina’s RBI single and an error to carry an 11-8 lead into the bottom of the seventh.

Cody’s Jack Schroeder completed his 4-for-4 night at the dish with an RBI single that pulled the Wyoming state champs within 11-9. The Cubs had the bases loaded with one out when Dominic Phillips hit a flyball to right field. It was far enough to drive in one run from third, but the baserunner at second was called out for leaving the base too early and the game ended on a 9-6 double play.

With the win, Wasilla survived and advanced. The Road Warriors have been the ultimate tournament team under head coach Ken Ottinger, who is 23-6 in postseason games dating back to 2018.

Wasilla avenged a 7-2 loss to Cody on Day 1 and gave Alaska its first win over a Lower 48 team in six games at this year's NWCART.

This is the second straight year Wasilla has advanced to the final day of the NWCART. In 2019, the Road Warriors marched all the way to the title game to become the first Alaska team to reach the championship game of a regional tournament. There was no tournament in 2020 so that doesn’t count.

Wasilla (16-16) wasn’t supposed to get this far. The team didn’t make the state tournament, forcing Wasilla to win the Matson Invitational to qualify for the NWCART. Then the Road Warriors lost on Day 1, forcing them to win three straight games – first beating Palmer for the first time in five meetings this season; then beating Alaska's regular-season No. 1 seed South; and then coming back from the dead to shock Cody.

Cody led 8-4 with two outs in the seventh before an error left the door open for Wasilla to come storming back. Wasilla seems to be a team of destiny at this point after coming back from deficits of 5-0 and 8-4.

Tristan Blatt crushed a solo home run over the left-field fence at Bartlett High School to give Cody (47-15) a 5-0 lead. Cody loaded the bases in the fifth inning with no outs but got only one run on Tyler Grenz's bases-loaded walk. Chance Moss gave his team an 8-4 advantage with a sac fly in the sixth.

Wasilla didn't get on the scoreboard until the fifth inning when Jacob Hansen's RBI single made it 5-1. Next up was one of the biggest at-bats of the night as Andre Brown’s two-out, two-run single pulled Wasilla within 5-3 and capped an epic 12-pitch battle against Cody pitcher Devyn Engdahl, who threw six strong innings and was in line for the win.

NWCART Game 9: Marsh Valley (ID) 18, Juneau (AK) 5

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 9, 2021

NWCART Game 9

Marsh Valley (ID) 18, Juneau (AK) 5

Wyatt Harris and Dylan Driessen each had three RBIs and pitchers James Bodily and Karter Howell combined on a five-hitter as Marsh Valley eliminated Juneau on Day 3 of the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

The Idaho state champs scored a single-game, tournament-high 18 runs, thanks to a lights-out offensive outburst in the second and third innings when Marsh Valley went 9-for-11 with eight walks and a sac fly and scored 13 runs.

The Eagles (38-4) posted another crooked number in the third inning on the strength of RBIs from Braxton Foster, Harris and Driessen. Marsh Valley would have scored two more runs if not for an outstanding diving catch by Juneau center fielder Porter Nelson.

Payton Howe, Foster and Daxton Woodmancy each had two base hits. Bodily, Howell, Howe and Foster all scored three times. Howe rapped a two-run triple.

Foster also made the play of the game from right field when he completed a 9-2 double play after catching a flyball and throwing out the runner trying to tag from third base.

After the play, Marsh Valley catcher Harris and Juneau’s Austin McCurley showed incredible sportsmanship with a friendly fist bump as a sign of respect, one catcher to another. That’s what it’s all about.

For pitching, Bodily went the first two innings for Marsh Valley and Howell closed it out with three innings as the game was called early because of the mercy rule.

Marsh Valley has scored 32 runs in three tournament games.

Juneau jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to a string of base hits by Nelson, McCurley and Olin Rawson. In the third inning, Nelson reached base on a third-strike wild pitch and later scored on a wild pitch. In the fourth, McCurley and Kai Schmidt drove in runs as the Midnight Suns kept battling.

Juneau (20-9) played hard until the very end, highlighted by Nelson’s delightful diving catch to end the fourth inning with his team down double digits.

NWCART Game 10: Wasilla (AK) 13, South (AK) 9

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 9, 2021

NWCART Game 10

Wasilla (AK) 13, South (AK) 9

Pedro Camacho went 3-for-3 with the go-ahead RBI triple in the third inning and pitcher Brandon Hina made it stick as Wasilla knocked the 30-win South Wolverines out of the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Wasilla rallied back from an early 5-1 deficit with a 10-run third inning outburst that saw Camacho, Alex Prayner, Andre Brown and Nolan Murphy drive in runs. Camacho’s triple gave the Road Warriors the lead for good at 6-5 and he later scored on a fadeaway slide, just missing the tag.

Brown and Murphy each had two RBIs in that big inning – Brown got his on a two-run single while Murphy got his on separate singles. The two sluggers combined to go 4-for-7 and scored four runs.

Wasilla (15-16) improved to 6-1 in the postseason this summer. The Road Warriors went 4-0 en route to winning the Matson Invitational to qualify for the NWCART. They are 2-1 in this tournament, making them 5-3 at the NWCART since 2019.

Hina pitched well in his 5.2 innings, scattering four hits and four walks. He looked good, then not so good, then was good again.

He worked around three errors to throw a scoreless first inning and then pitched a 1-2-3 second. He lost his command in the third inning as three walks and a hit by pitch helped fueled South’s five-run frame.

His disappointment didn’t last.

Wasilla put up a 10-spot top put the Road Warriors the lead for good and Hina responded by retiring six of the next seven batters. In the fifth, he got some glove love from his battery mate, catcher Camacho, who threw out a baserunner from his knees at second base.

Wasilla banged out 12 hits, with Will Plowman going 3-for-4 as one of two players with three hits.

South (30-5) got another strong offensive game from Maddux Soland, who was 3-for-4 with an RBI. He leads the tournament with six RBIs. Isaac Johnson added a two-out, two-run single in the third to make it 5-1.

Hunter Manderson hit a two-out, two-run single and later scored to pull the Wolverines within 13-9.

NWCART Game 11: Gallatin Valley (MT) 6, Cody (WY) 2

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 9, 2021

NWCART Game 12

Gallatin Valley (MT) 6, Cody (WY) 2

Bo Hays struck out nine in 5.1 innings and also drove in a run as the Outlaws gunned down the Cubs for the third time in four meetings this season on Day 3 of the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

The Montana state champ improved to 3-0 in the tournament and moved into the driver’s seat as the lone unbeaten in the double-elimination championship. This was the first loss for Cody in three tournament games.

Brody Ayers went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and Brandon Beedie closed the door with a five-out save for Gallatin Valley (59-21).

The two teams are separated by a drive of only a few hours and faced off three times during the regular season, with the Outlaws winning by double figures in two of the meetings. Then they came all the way to Alaska to battle it out again.

Hays was sensational as he struck out five of the first seven and retired 12 of the first 16 batters he faced. He struck out the side in the first and fifth innings, had a pair in the second and one in the fifth.

Meanwhile, the Gallatin Valley offense came out swinging as Brady Jones singled and Isaac Richardson doubled to open the bottom of the first inning. Then something happened that you don’t see every day – three consecutive sac flies; Cyrus Richardson to right field, Ayers to center field and Hays to left field.

Richardson’s fly ball was dropped by the outfielder but it was hit deep to right field, far enough to easily score the runner from third had the outfielder made the catch. Having a sac fly and error on the same play is like a third-strike wild pitch that allows a runner to reach first.

Baseball can be a funny game sometimes.

Cody wasn’t laughing after an uncharacteristically bad defensive start to the game put them in a big hole early. The Cubs had four errors by the third inning, which extended innings and forced their starting pitcher to rack up a ton more pitches.

Ayers gave Gallatin Valley a 5-0 lead in the second inning with a two-run single, his third RBI of the game and team-leading fourth of the tournament. Ayers singled and scored on Josh Wisecarver’s RBI single in the fourth inning to push the lead to 6-0.

The Wyoming state champions finally got on the board in the fifth inning, thanks to a leadoff double by Chance Moss and a two-out base knock from Tristan Blatt. Tyler Grenz, who had singled, later scored on an error to make it 6-2.

For as rough of a start as the Cubs (47-14) had, they made it interesting at the end, bringing the tying run in the plate in the sixth inning and getting two runners on base in the seventh inning.

NWCART stats leaders through two days of tournament

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 8, 2021

NWCART Leaders

Team Batting
.419 Juneau (AK)
.388 Cody (WY)
.315 South (AK)
.300 Marsh Valley (ID)
.269 Gallatin Valley (MT)
.229 Wasilla (AK)
.220 Palmer (AK)
.137 Service (AK)

Team ERA
1.27 Cody (WY)
2.15 South (AK)
3.77 Wasilla (AK)
4.00 Gallatin Valley (MT)
4.10 Marsh Valley (ID)
7.58 Palmer (AK)
9.92 Service (AK)
10.82 Juneau (AK)

Team Fielding
.980 Service (AK)
.977 Cody (WY)
.964 Gallatin Valley (MT)
.964 South (AK)
.927 Marsh Valley (ID)
.897 Palmer (AK)
.877 Wasilla (AK)
.866 Juneau (AK)

Innings
7.2 Levi Farrelly Wasilla (AK)
6.1 Landon Guggenmos Palmer (AK)
6.0 Brody Ayers Gallatin Valley (MT)
6.0 Reid Brock South (AK)
6.0 Tyler Grenz Cody (WY)
6.0 Mayson Shively Gallatin Valley (MT)
5.0 Jason Jones Marsh Valley (ID)
4.2 Dayton Greet Wasilla (AK)
4.2 Hutton Stiles Service (AK)
4.1 Olin Rawson Juneau (AK)

Strikeouts
9 Tyler Grenz Cody (WY)
6 Reid Brock South (AK)
6 Stanton Howell Marsh Valley (ID)
6 Hunter Manderson South (AK)
6 Olin Rawson Juneau (AK)
6 Mayson Shively Gallatin Valley (MT)
5 Reid Brock South (AK)
5 Landon Guggenmos Palmer (AK)
5 Jason Jones Marsh Valley (ID)
3 Six tied

Home Runs
1 Kaden Bevegni South (AK)
1 Nolan Murphy Wasilla (AK)

RBIs
5 Braxton Foster Marsh Valley (ID)
5 Maddux Soland South (AK)
3 Bo Hays Gallatin Valley (MT)
3 Kaden Bevegni South (AK)
3 Devyn Engdahl Cody (WY)
3 Chane Moss Cody (WY)
3 Nolan Murphy Wasilla (AK)
3 Olin Rawson Juneau (AK)
2 Twelve tied

Runs
5 Joey Serra South (AK)
4 James Bodily Marsh Valley (ID)
4 Tyler Grenz Cody (WY)
3 Kaden Bevegni South (AK)
3 Ethan Johnston Cody (WY)
3 Bodhi Nelson Juneau (AK)
3 Dominic Phillips Cody (WY)
3 Jackson Schroeder Cody (WY)
3 Isaac Richardson Gallatin Valley (MT)
2 Fourteen tied

NWCART rained out Sunday, games moved to Monday

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 8, 2021

Northwest Class A Regional Tournament

Sunday, Aug. 8
Rained out

**Revised Schedule

Monday, Aug. 9
10:00am @Mulcahy Stadium Game 11 Wyoming vs Montana

1:00pm @Mulcahy Stadium Game 9 Wasilla vs South 

4:00pm @Mulcahy Stadium Game 10 Idaho vs Juneau

5:30pm @Bartlett High School  Game 12 Winner Game 9 vs Loser Game 11 **No broadcast 

7:00pm @Mulcahy Stadium Game 13 Winner Game 11 vs Winner Game 10

**Due to field and safety conditions, Game 12 and 13 will be played EXACTLY following the bracket which is absolutely necessary. There will be no switching of opponents per NWCART director Jerry McCarter

Tuesday,  Aug. 10

12:00pm @Mulcahy Stadium Game 14 Winner Game 12 vs Winner Game 13.
**If 3 teams remain after game 13 then the winner of game 11 automatically receives the bye to Game 15 
3:30pm @Mulcahy Stadium Game 15 If-Needed Game

NWCART Game 8: Cody (WY) 13, Juneau (AK) 1

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 7, 2021

NWCART Game 8

Cody (WY) 13, Juneau (AK) 1

Jackson Schroeder tripled, scored two runs and picked up the winning decision at pitcher as the Coby Cubs cruised to their second win as many days at the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Cody posted crooked numbers in each of the four innings in a game that was called early, giving the Cubs their 47th win of the season.

Schroeder struck out three batters in 2.2 innings of scoreless work, leaving the game after 45 pitches to save him for later in the tournament. He blew away most batters with an overpowering fastball, throwing harder than anybody in Alaska.

Juneau’s lone hit off the rocket right hander came off the bat of Christian Ludeman, who smacked a shot into right field.

Schroeder reached base three times on two walks and a standup triple to left field. He scored two runs. Relief pitcher Grady McCarten finished up with 1.1 innings, giving up two hits and one run.

The Cubs (47-13) had baserunners all night on the strength of 10 walks, two hit by pitch and nine hits. They scored five runs in the first, two in the second and three in each of the third and fourth.

Cody center fielder Tristan Blatt recorded an outfield assist after he threw out a baserunner at home in the fourth inning on a beautiful one-hopper to the plate. He also doubled, got hit by a pitch and scored two runs.

Other Cody players with an RBI included Tyler Grenz, Ethan Johnston, Schroeder and McCarten.

Juneau's lone run was driven in by Landon Simonson on a sac fly. The run was set up by base hits from Bodhi Nelson and Kasen Ludeman.

The loss was the first for the Midnight Suns (20-8) in the double-elimination tournament.

NWCART Game 7: Gallatin Valley (MT) 4, South (AK) 2

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 7, 2021

NWCART Game 7

Gallatin Valley (MT) 4, South (AK) 2

Bo Hays went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and pitched the final inning to close out Brody Ayers' six-inning gem as the Eagles soared to their 58th win of the season on Day 2 of the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Hays twice had two-out base hits, first rapping out a two-run single in the first inning to make it 2-0 and then delivering an RBI single in the fifth inning to make it 3-0. He also scored a run and stole a base. And got the save. Bo knows baseball.

Gallatin Valley (58-21) was in complete control thanks to Ayers, who carried a shutout into the sixth inning and racked up 1-2-3 frames in the first, second and fifth. Ayers also made two nice defensive stabs, catching a liner in the second and snatching a sharp comebacker in the fourth. He needed just six pitches to get out of the fifth.

Ayers fanned only three batters in six innings of work but still managed to dominate South batters by inducing pop ups and groundballs. He registered only three flyball outs.

On the other side, Reid Brock bounced back after giving up two runs in the first to throw scoreless frames in the second, third, fourth and sixth. He wasn’t always sharp, but he was good enough to cut through the Gallatin Valley lineup. Brock had to get four outs in the second after a third-strike wild pitch allowed that batter to reach.

His pitching kept South in the game. The problem was run support. Dating back to the state tournament title game, the Wolverines had not scored a run for him in 12 straight innings. But that ended in the sixth after Joey Serra singled and Kaden Bevegni doubled to set the table for Maddux Soland, who hammered a two-run single to get South (30-4) on the scoreboard and cut a four-run deficit in half.

Brock retired six straight before hitting the leadoff batter in the fifth. But that baserunner was wiped away after a beautiful 4-6-3 double play involving second baseman Bevegni, shortstop Soland and first baseman Serra.

Reid also caught a baserunner trying to steal third to end the fifth inning. He finished the postseason with 10 scoreless frames in 13 innings.

Gallatin Valley first baseman Patrick Dietz drove in his team’s fourth run with a two-out single. He also made five unassisted putouts for the Outlaws of Three Forks, Montana, who improved to 2-0 in the double-elimination tournament. This was the first tournament loss for South and only its fourth defeat in 34 games this season.

NWCART Game 6: Wasilla (AK) 5, Palmer (AK) 4

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 7, 2021

NWCART Game 6

Wasilla (AK) 5, Palmer (AK) 4

Nolan Murphy crushed a three-run home run early and Wasilla held on late to beat its Mat-Su Valley rival for the first time in five meetings this season in a loser-out game on Day 2 of Northwest Class A Regional Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Andre Brown went 3-for-3 with an RBI, stolen base and run scored for Wasilla. Starter Levi Farrelly started and went 6.1 innings before giving way to Jacob Hansen, who recorded a two-out save.

It was the fourth NWCART win for Wasilla head coach Ken Ottinger, making him Alaska’s active tournament wins leader. Ottinger’s fingerprints were all over this victory as the Road Warriors (14-16) used aggressive base runner to complement strong pitching.

Murphy gave Wasilla a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning after hitting his third home run in six postseason games. Prayner’s RBI single three batters later made it 4-1.

Farrelly made it stick, throwing scoreless frames in the second, third and sixth innings. He gave up six hits and one earned run among the four on his watch.

Palmer’s Koen Leaders pulled his team within 4-2 in the fourth inning with a two-out RBI single. But Brown answered in the bottom half with his own two-out RBI single to push Wasilla three ahead at 5-2.

That’s when the Pioneers settled in, getting runs in the fifth and seventh in support of starter Landon Guggenmos, who pitched better the longer the game lasted. He pitched all six innings, needing only 82 pitches. He had a four-pitch fifth inning and a 1-2-3 sixth. He retired 13 of the last 16.

Evan Walker was back in the lineup for Palmer and his presence was felt as he reached base three out of four times. He singled and scored in the fifth and tripled and scored in the seventh, helping the Pioneers put the tying run on base.

But Hansen sealed the deal. He actually had a hand in making all three outs in the seventh inning – one at third base and two at pitcher. He snagged and then dropped a line drive off the bat of Kaden Ketchum but had time to still get the out at first, thanks to first baseman Prayner, who grabbed an errant throw and barely tagged out the runner. It was a big play because Marks tripled the next at-bat.

Palmer was eliminated from the NWCART and finished the season 15-16.

NWCART Game 5: Marsh Valley (ID) 8, Service (AK) 4

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 7, 2021

NWCART Game 5

Marsh Valley (ID) 8, Service (AK) 4

Braxton Foster and Karter Howell each drove in two runs and Jason Jones allowed only three hits in five innings of work as Marsh Valley doubled up Service in a loser-out game on Day 2 of the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Foster went 2-for-3 and continued his terrific tournament production as he now has five RBIs in two games. His two-run single in the third inning made it 5-0.

Shortstop James Bodily batted 2-for-3 with a walk to push his tournament batting average to a robust .714. He singled and scored in the third inning and singled in another run in the fifth inning for the Eagles of Arimo, Idaho. His bunt for a base hit was a thing of beauty, the way he deadened the ball. A lost art in today's Legion game.

Defensively, Bodily made the play of the game after laying out to snag a bouncer up the middle and throwing out the batter at first from his knees. Cue the SportsCenter theme song.

Jones carried a shutout into the sixth inning, but it was no walk in the park. He battled, getting out of a bases-loaded, one-out ja m in the second inning, working around a leadoff double in the fourth inning and a runner on third with no outs in the fifth inning.

Marsh Valley (37-4) pushed its lead to 8-0 with a three-run outburst in the fifth, getting RBIs from Alex Vaughan, Bodily and Howell.

At that point, the game looked like a mismatch. But Service battled back to make it a game.

The Cougars loaded the bases in the sixth inning and got finally got on the scoreboard on Jake Rafferty’s RBI HBP. One out later, Hunter Christian and Carson Maltby delivered back-to-back base hits. Christian plated two runs with his single and Maltby brought home the final run for the Cougars.

Christian’s base hit snapped Service’s 0-for-17 streak with runners in scoring position in the tournament. Then Maltby did it as well. Hitting is contagious.

Maltby also played well in left field, making five putouts, including a twisting, turning catch at the left-field wall to rob extra bases. He also made a nice throw home to deny a tag up and another nice catch with his hand on the fence in foul territory.

Service was eliminated from the NWCART and finished the season 21-10.

NWCART Game 4: Cody (WY) 7, Wasilla (AK) 2

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 6, 2021

NWCART Game 4

Cody (WY) 7, Wasilla (AK) 2

Tyler Grenz pitched a one-hitter over six innings and retired 16 of the final 17 batters he faced as the Cubs posted their 46th win of the season on Day 1 of the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Grenz was great as the rocket right-hander used his fastball to blow the doors off the Road Warriors, racking up nine strikeouts. He struck out the side in the second inning and had two Ks in each of the fourth and fifth innings.

His only blemish came on a blast off the bat of Byson Malave, who crushed a hanging curveball off the left-field wall in the first inning to give Wasilla a quick 1-0. The run was unearned but it was still an accomplishment against a guy who came into the game with a sub-1 ERA.

Grenz actually lowered his ERA after tonight’s performance, giving up an unearned run in the first and then slamming the door with five shutout innings. The only baserunner he allowed after that triple came on a hit by pitch that grazed Ty Dudley’s jersey.

With the win, Cody (46-13) extracted a measure of revenge against Wasilla, which had defeated the Cubs 6-2 on their home field at the 2019 NWCART. Mulcahy isn’t exactly Wasilla’s backyard, but they do call the big house home.

This is Cody’s third trip to Anchorage for the NWCART after previously coming in 2007 and 2014. The Cubs reached the 2014 title game and marched into the winner’s bracket thanks to the pitching of Grenz and a 10-hit attack.

It’s easy to get lost in this Cody lineup but No. 8 hitter Chance Moss found a way to stand out after driving in three runs. He had two-out, two-run single in the third inning and an RBI single in the fifth inning.

Tristan Blatt's RBI double tied the game 1-1 in the first inning and Grady McCarten's two-out single gave Cody the lead for good. Then Moss added to it and the Cubs never looked back.

Ethan Johnston drove in his team's seventh run with a two-out, run-scoring base knock. Cody had four two-out RBIs.

Wasilla ran into a buzz saw tonight but continued to grind and got a run off the bullpen in the seventh inning, highlighted by a little two-out magic by Pedro Camacho and Alex Prayner. Camacho singled, took second on defensive indifference and scored on Prayner’s single.

Wasilla starter Dayton Greer battled for 4.2 innings, scattering six hits and five walks, and dancing around some powerful bats. The Cubs start four batters hitting above .400 and have two guys with double-figure home run totals.

The Road Warriors (14-15) are back in the NWCART since their historic 2019 run when Wasilla became the first Alaska team to advance to the championship game of a regional tournament.

NWCART Game 3: South (AK) 9, Service (AK) 1

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 6, 2021

NWCART Game 3

South (AK) 9, Service (AK) 1

Kaden Bevegni hit a three-run homer and Joey Serra hit two doubles and scored four runs as South pulled away late on Day 1 of the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Bevegni ripped a bomb well over the left-field wall in the fifth inning to make the score 6-1. The reigning state tournament Big Stick Award winner now has 11 RBIs across his last five games.

Isaac Johnson struck out the side in the seventh inning to seal South’s 30th win of the season.

He was the ultimate table setter, reaching base in all four plate appearances. He walked and scored in the first, doubled and scored in the third, walked and scored in the fifth and doubled and scored in the sixth.

South’s 1-2 pitching duo of Hunter Masterson and Johnson combined on a 12-strikeout, two-hitter, with the lone running coming home on a passed ball.

Masterson started and pitched three scoreless innings, dancing around trouble to push his streak of 21 innings without allowing an earned run. He got a strikeout to end a base-loaded threat in the second and got a strikeout to end a second-and-third jam in the third.

Johnson finished up with four innings of one-run relief for the Wolverines (30-3). He too wiggled out of trouble, this time getting two strikeouts and a groundout after Service got a runner to second base with no outs in the fourth inning.

It was par for the course for Service. The Cougars stranded six runners over the first four innings and went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

Service starter Hutton Stiles did all he could to keep the game close. The lean lefty worked around some control issues and got some glove love from his catcher Coen Niclai, who threw out two baserunners.

Niclai threw out a runner trying to steal second base in the third inning. He picked off a runner at first base to end the fourth, helping Stiles get out of the inning on just four pitches and keeping the score 3-0.

Service (21-9) got on the scoreboard after manufacturing a run in the fifth inning when Carson Maltby walked, stole second base, moved to third on a groundout and scored on passed ball.

But then in the bottom half, Bevegni went big fly and South cruised into the winner’s bracket.

NWCART Game 2: Juneau (AK) 14, Palmer (AK) 10

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 6, 2021

NWCART Game 2

Juneau (AK) 14, Palmer (AK) 10

Olin Rawson, Christian Ludeman and Joseph Aline combined for seven RBIs and Juneau banged out 15 hits to win this slugfest that looked like a football score on Day 1 of the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

The Midnight Suns led 10-0 at one point and put up four crooked numbers on the scoreboard en route to posting their 20th win of the season.

Rawson was a major catalyst, driving in three runs in his first two plate appearances. He had a two-run single in the first inning and a sac fly in the second.

He also started the game and retired the first nine Palmer batters before Koen Leaders singled to lead off the fourth inning.

Juneau scored early and often, putting across three runs in the first, three in the second, four in the third and four in the fifth.

Porter Nelson and Austin McCurley each had three hits and scored two runs. Kai Schmidt and Landon Simonson also had RBIs for the Midnight Suns (20-7).

With Juneau leading 10-6, the Ludeman bros, Christian and Kasen, went to work. Big bro Christian laced an RBI single to make it 12-6 and Kasen came up big with a two-run single to increase the lead to 14-6.

Palmer trailed 10-0 and were 0-for-9 at the plate before turning up the energy to create some excitement.

The Pioneers were 6-for-12 across the fourth and fifth innings and pulled within 10-6. Brayden Parrent had a double and Colten Haase had a standup triple while Landon Guggenmos, Leaders and Parrent also had RBIs. Leaders was 3-for-5 to lead a seven-hit attack.

Palmer also turned two double plays on defense in the second and fourth innings.

The Pioneers (15-15) have only nine players and never stopped charging, eventually turning a laugher into nail bitter as they brought the tying run to the plate with two outs in the seventh inning.

NWCART Game 1: Gallatin (MT) 7, Marsh (ID) 6

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 6, 2021

NWCART Game 1

Gallatin Valley (MT) 7, Marsh Valley (ID) 6

Brody Ayers drove in Isaac Richardson with the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Outlaws capped a four-run rally on a walk-off on Day 1 of the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Gallatin Valley, of Three Forks, Montana, posted its 57th win of the season after coming back from a 6-3 deficit in the final inning highlighted by RBIs from Trevor Dodd, Richardson and Ayers. Dodd’s single made it 6-4, Richardson’s single made it 6-5 and Dodd tied the game 6-6 on a wild pitch.

The loss spoiled a strong performance by Marsh Valley (36-4), which led the entire game.

Braxston Foster had three RBIs by the third inning on a two-run single in the first and a two-base sac fly in the third. The two-base sac fly happened after the left fielder made a beautiful sliding catch near the fence and base runner Karter Howell tagged from second and kept running all the way home after the outfielder held onto the ball, like maybe he thought it was the third out.

That third inning was all about the Howells – Stanton Howell laid down a beautiful squeeze bunt to score James Bodily from third base to make it 3-0. Then Karter Howell walks and later scored with heads up base runner.

Stanton Howell also pitched three innings of lights-out relief over the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. At one point he had 35 strikes on 42 pitches with five Ks for the Eagles of Arimo, Idaho.

Bodily went 3-for-4 for Marsh Valley with a triple and three runs scored. He singled and scored in the first inning, tripled and scored in the third inning and singled and scored in the seventh inning.

His final run came on a Dylan Driessen bases-loaded HBP that gave Marsh Valley a three-run lead going into the bottom of the seventh.

Patrick Deitz got the party started with a leadoff walk. Brandon Beedie reached on an error. Dodd singled to make it 6-4. After an out, Richardson singled to make it 6-5. Then Dodd scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.

With two outs, Ayers came to the plate and banged one up the middle to give Gallatin Valley an improbable victory that moved the Outlaws (57-21) into the winner’s bracket.

Richardson went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs. Brady Jones was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run. Mayson Shively pitched six innings and Josh Majors threw the final frame.

Alaska hosts Wyoming, Montana, Idaho in NWCART

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 5, 2021

If Alaska was ever going to win the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament, this is the year.

A record five Alaska teams are in the NWCART field as a result of Oregon and Utah not sending teams.

Their loss is Alaska’s gain.

Service will be making its fifth NWCART appearance. South is playing in the tournament for a fourth time while Juneau and Wasilla are both here for a third time. Palmer is making its NWCART debut.

Joining the Alaska teams will be the Wyoming state champion Cody Cubs; the Idaho state champion Marsh Valley Eagles; and the Montana state champion Gallatin Valley Outlaws.

A team from Alaska has never won the NWCART, but we’ve been close.

In 2019, the Wasilla Post 35 Road Warriors advanced to the title game. In 2014, the Juneau Post 25 Midnight Suns made the final four. In 2013, the South Post 4 Wolverines finished third.

Flashback: Wasilla makes 2019 finals run

Wasilla put together one of the greatest seasons in Alaska Legion Baseball history as the Road Warriors became the state’s first team to win three games at a regional tournament and reach a regional championship game.

Wasilla scored a 13-12 win over North Coos (OR) on the first day of the tournament in Cody, Wyoming. Wasilla broke out the big sticks as Clancey O’Donnell went 4-for-4 with a home run and Kyle Graham was 3-for-3 with two triples as the two players combined for eight RBIs.

On Day 2, Clayton Boyett pitched a complete-game, 11-strikeout gem to lead Wasilla to a 6-2 win over Cheyenne (WY). Balau Buckmaster crushed a three-run home run.

On Day 3, Wasilla’s Kyle Graham hit a grand slam and pitcher Jacob Gilbert went the distance in a 9-6 victory over Burley (ID).

The Road Warriors became the first Alaska team to reach the NWCART title game since the Last Frontier started sending teams in 2000.

Layton (UT) beat Wasilla in back-to-back games to win the championship and deny Alaska its first region title.

Cody (WY) is back, back, back in Alaska

The Cody Cubs of Wyoming and the NWCART have been synonymous for nearly the last decade.

This will be Cody’s sixth tournament appearance in eight years – five times as state champion and once as host.

Led by state tournament MVP Tyler Grenz, Cody beat Cheyenne 8-2 in the title game. Grenz tossed a 4-hitter in the final and picked up two wins in the tournament for the Cubs (45-13).

“None of them care who gets the credit,” said manager Bart Grenz. “They play for each other, root for each other.”

This is the third time Cody has come to Alaska for the NWCART as the Cubs were here in 2007 and 2014.

Outlaws come out of Montana bats ablazing

No team comes to the NWCART with more wins than the Gallatin Valley Outlaws, who have posted a 56-23 record and mowed down opponents at the Montana state tournament with a 5-0 record.

Gallatin Valley beat Glacier 10-0 in five innings in the title game to win the state championship for the first time since 2005.

“These guys came in really focused from the time we got here on Wednesday night and stayed focused throughout all five games,” said manager Duwayne Scott. “They played really well.”

Bo Hays was the tournament’s MVP and Cyrus Richardson had three extra-base hits in the title game and won the tournament’s Big Stick award.

Marsh Valley (ID) Eagles flying high

Marsh Valley edged perennial power Pocatello 3-2 in the Idaho state title game to secure its second straight championship.

The Eagles went 5-0 in the state tournament, outscoring opponents 39-17 along the way.

“The kids were super gritty; they were gritty the whole tournament,” said manager Kent Howell. “The best part was they were willing to play for each other. They wanted to fill a role.”

Marsh Valley won the state title, thanks to seventh-inning heroics from slugger Karter Howell (game-winning RBI) and closer Payton Howe (game-ending save).

The Eagles come to Alaska with a sparkling 36-3 record.

Helena (MT) eliminates Alaska state champs in Wyoming

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 5, 2021

The season came to a close for the Eagle River Wolves, who lost 13-0 to Helena (MT) in a loser-out game at the American Legion Northwest Regional in Gillette, Wyoming.

Eagle River had more errors (5) than base hits (3) and were never really in the game, falling behind 5-0 by the third inning.

The Helena Senators banged out 11 hits and drove in 10 runs, including four by shortstop Tyler Tenney. Three pitchers combined for the shutout on just 89 pitches.

Eagle River’s JT Thompson, Noah Lower and Stefan Retzlaff had the hits. Luke Barch walked twice and Cam Witte once. Witte also had a stolen base.

The Wolves managed only two base runners over the final four frames.

Barch started the game and did well early on, retiring the first four batters and allowing only one run on a squeeze play in the first two innings. Only one of the five runs was earned that he gave up in three innings of work.

Eagle River (22-10) was eliminated with the loss and finished seventh out of eight teams. The Alaska champs lost 2-1 on Day 1 to host Gillette.

This was the Wolves' first trip to the Northwest Regionals after winning their first state championship.

The state of Alaska owns two wins at Northwest Regionals over the last dozen years - one by Juneau in 2018 and one by South in 2009.

Eagle River drops 2-1 heartbreaker in Wyoming

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 4, 2021

Eagle River pitcher Cam Witte showed why he was a two-time MVP this season, throwing six strong innings and allowing only one earned run in his Day 1 start at the American Legion Northwest Regional in Gillette, Wyoming.

Unfortunately, the other guy was a little better.

Gillette starter Kaden Race threw a 3-hit, 11-strikeout complete-game gem to highlight the Roughriders’ 2-1 win over Eagle River in front of packed house at Hladky Stadium.

Race racked up four 1-2-3 innings and fanned four batters on called strike three, mixing a high 80s fastball with a disappearing slider.

He looked sharp. This was his 22nd career win, so dude has been dealing for three years.

With Witte and Race orchestrating a pitcher’s duel, the game lasted a mere 1 hour, 17 minutes.

Eagle River backed up Witte with wonderful defense. Catcher Luke Barch threw out a runner trying to steal third base in the first inning. Third baseman Stefan Retzlaff gunned down a runner at the plate in the second inning. And the Wolves turned a 6-4-3 double play to end the fourth inning.

Down 2-0, the Wolves clawed back after Barch led off with a single and was erased on Noah Lower’s fielder’s choice. Orazio Ramos then reached on an error, bringing up Retzlaff, who singled to score Lower and make it 2-1.

From that point on, though, Race allowed only one Eagle River base runner the rest of the way. He retired 11 of the final 12, with Lower’s out-out walk in the sixth inning being the only blemish.

Witte was just as effective, closing the game with four shutout innings. He retired 12 of the final 14 batters. He struck out four batters and gave up six hits and one earned run.

Witte was MVP of the Legion State Tournament as well as MVP of the Cook Inlet Conference for high school.

Eagle River (22-9) falls into the consolation bracket and will face Helena (MT) Thursday morning in a loser-out contest.

Watch the game on www.alaskalegion.com. Look for the free streaming link.

Northwest Class A Regional Tournament bracket

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 3, 2021

2021 NWCART bracket.jpg

South Black beats Eagle River for Legion A State title

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 2, 2021

State A Final: South Black 13, Eagle River 5

Ben Neuberger hit a grand slam to highlight South Black’s 13-5 win over Eagle River in the championship game of the Legion A State Tournament at McManus Field in Wasilla.

Starter Blake Peterson and reliever Luke Beard combined to pitch seven innings as South denied Eagle River a chance at winning a three-peat. Eagle River won the state championships in 2019 and 2020.

Neuberger finished 3-for-3 with six RBIs, including bases-clearing bomb in the third inning. He picked a fine time to hit his first homer of the season.

Beard pitched the final four frames and went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs scored. Big Game Beard.

Gavin Alexander was 2-for-2 and Landon Drumm had a base hit and scored three runs.

Eagle River’s Liam Lierman went 2-for-3 with a walk, two RBIs two runs scored.

South coach Taylor Nerland’s team bounced from a Day 1 loss to win four straight games by a combined score of 55-15.

In the quarterfinals, Dimond beat Palmer 14-2. In the semifinals, South beat Dimond 18-9 and Eagle River defeated Wasilla 13-9.

Recent Legion A State Title Games

2021 South Black 13, Eagle River 5

2020 Eagle River 8, Palmer 5

2019 Eagle River 17, Dimond 4

2018 South Black 9, South Gold 0

2017 N/A

2016 Chugiak 12, Kenai 3

2015 N/A

2014 South 10, Dimond 4

2013 Wasilla 6, South 4

2012 Wasilla 5, Fairbanks 4

State: Barch's shutout, Ramos' homer power ER 1-0 win

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 27, 2021

Eagle River 1, South 0

Luke Barch was brilliant on the mound, pitching a 2-hit complete-game shutout against the state's top hitting team to help Eagle River win its first Legion State Tournament title with a 1-0 win over the South Post 4 Wolverines in the championship game at Mulcahy Stadium.

The game's only run came off the bat of big first baseman Orazio Ramos, who crushed a solo home run over the left-field wall that would have been gone out of any park, even Denali National Park.

Ramos was also on the receiving end of two double plays in each of the sixth and seventh innings, both started by shortstop Noah Lower.

Barch lost his perfect game with two outs in the fourth inning and lost his no-hitter with one out in the sixth inning, but won the biggest game of his life to put his team on the road to the Legion World Series.

Eagle River will represent Alaska at the Northwest Regional in Gillette, Wyoming. The regional winner advances to the World Series. Alaska joins Wyoming, New Mexico, Vermont as the states to never have sent a team to the World Series.

South will play in the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium. This is the fist time Alaska has hosted since 2014.

The Wolves (22-8) beat South for the first time in three Legion games and snapped a 12-game winning streak coming into the title game by the Wolverines (26-3).

Ramos brought to life every player's dream - hitting a game-winning home run in the state championship game. He made it look easy too, launching a moon shot that cleared the wall by a good 40 feet. It was high and it was far.

It was the only mistake pitch that hurt either starting pitcher.

This was a historic performance by Barch and South's Reid Brock, who both went the whole way and produced just the fourth 1-0 final score in the tournament's 69-year history. It also happened in 2019, 2011 and 1960.

It was a pitcher's duel from the first pitch as Brock retired 11 of the first 12, and Barch nine straight.

Brock pitched well enough to win on any other night, maybe against any other opponent. He gave up only three hits on the night and sat down 11 of the final 12 batters he faced after giving up the home run. He was great, but Barch was nearly unhittable.

Barch didn't allow a base runner until walking South slugger Dylan Maltby in the fourth inning. Brock got his team's first hit on a one-out double in the sixth inning.

South was hitting .359 in the tournament and had outscored opponents 45-13 coming into the title game.

Barch was just too good. All he does is win title games. He was the starting pitcher in 2020 and 2019 when Eagle River won the Legion A state title, and he was MVP in 2019 when he was still in middle school.

Tonight, he took the Wolverines to school, handing South its first shutout loss in 29 games this summer.

The Eagle River pitching staff finished the state tournament with a 0.85 team ERA and didn't allow a run across the semifinal and title games.

Eagle River head coach Bill Lierman has won Legion state championships at two programs, first at his alma mater of Chugiak and now Eagle River.

State Tournament Awards

TOP PITCHER AWARD

Luke Barch, Eagle River

Nothing defines a pitcher quite like a championship game. There is no place to hide and the spotlight can burn you. But this right-handed wanted all that smoke. Barch threw a 2-hit complete-game shutout against the state’s top hitting team. Just call him Big Game Barch.

GOLD GLOVE AWARD

Kellen Curtis, South Post 4

Curtis is as smooth as it gets, with more range than a Range Rover. Good hands, quick feet, strong arm – he is the total package at shortstop. He had a perfect fielding percentage as he made every play on 19 defensive chances. Just call him Mr. Reliable.

BIG STICK

Kaden Bevegni, South Post 4

It’s easy to get lost on ‘Murderers' Row’ but Bevegni found a way to stand out. Driving in a quarter of your team’s runs during the state tournament will do that. He was an RBI machine, leading the tournament with eight and knocking in six in one game – the most at the state tournament since 2016. He also hit .438.

MVP AWARD

Cam Witte, Eagle River

Whether he was pitching, hitting or playing in the field, this standout did it all. And boy, did he do it well. As a pitcher, he posted a tournament best 11.1 innings and 0.62 ERA and tied for the lead with a 2-0 record and 12 strikeouts. On defense, he played center field, catcher and shortstop and had zero errors on 20 defensive chances. He also drove in a run with the bat and was the driving force behind his team’s success.

 

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Alaska Airlines raffle winner: Lora Logston of Fairbanks

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 27, 2021

Lora Logston of Fairbanks was named the raffle winner of four Alaska Airlines vouchers.

Scott Habberstad of Alaska Airlines drew the lucky winner at Tuesday's Legion State Tournament championship game.

All Alliance Baseball League teams had the chance to participate and raise money toward team and individual fees through the raffle, which began in 2017.

Matson: Wasilla blanks West to win second tourney title

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 27, 2021

Wasilla 9, West 0

Dayton Greer threw six shutout innings and Andre Brown drove in two runs as the Wasilla Post 35 Road Warriors rolled in the championship game of the Matson Invitational at Mulcahy Stadium.

With the win, Wasilla clinched a berth in the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament and improved to 9-0 all-time in the Matson. This was the team's second title, with the first coming in 2018.

Greer never allowed a base runner to reach third and got a pair of double plays behind him.

Alex Prayner got the party started with an RBI single in the second inning. Wasilla struck for three more runs in the fourth inning, with one run coming home on a wild pitch and the other two on an error.

Brown went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, including one in the fourth that made it 5-0.

Jacob Hansen and Ty Dudley each had a base hit and scored two runs apiece. Pedro Camacho was 2-for-2 with two walks and three stolen bases. Wasilla had 10 steals as a team.

West got base hits from Cyrus Clendaniel, Joey Walker and pinch-hitter Gabe Catterinichio.

Starting pitcher Athena Clendaniel threw six innings and struck out three batters, including one to end the second inning and another to end the third inning.

Matson Invitational Tournament Awards

TOP PITCHER AWARD
Dayton Greer, Wasilla Post 35
Big games define a top pitcher, and you don't get any bigger than a championship game. This standout right-hander certainly raised to the occasion, throwing six shutout innings to help his team win a title and clinch a berth in a regional tournament. The only thing that stopped him was a pitch count.

GOLD GLOVE AWARD
Zack Barnhart, East Post 34
Mr. Versatile, Barnhart played the toughest positions around the diamond; from shortstop to catcher to pitcher. He had six assists, 13 putouts and threw out one baserunner trying to steal a bag.

BIG STICK
Pedro Camacho, Wasilla Post 35
Just call this tournament the Matson Monster Mash. In week dominated by sluggers, Camacho managed to stand out - from the bottom of the order, no less. He led the tournament 9 RBIs, including five in one game. He also had a double. And a triple. From the 6 hole. Oh, and he hit .538 in the tournament.

MVP AWARD
Nolan Murphy, Wasilla Post 35
Murphy hit in the middle of the lineup and was usually in the middle of the action. His bat is so wicked, he leaves pitchers in a spell.
He led the tournament with two home runs, tied for second with 8 RBIs and ranked No. 1 with 9 runs scored. He also had a double. And batted .467. He hits cleanup for a reason.

State: Witte flirts with no-no, Eagle River makes first final

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 26, 2021

Eagle River 7, Ketchikan 0

Cam Witte lost his no-hit bid in the seventh inning and the Wolves had five different players drive in runs to help Eagle River reach the Legion State Tournament championship game for the first time.

Witte was wonderful as he struck out six batters and gave up just one hit across 6.1 innings to highlight a 7-0 victory in the state semifinals at Mulcahy Stadium.

He gave up a double to Caleb Eisenhower in the gap with one out in the seventh inning before leaving because of the 105-pitch count limit.

Witte was just two batters over the minimum through six innings, getting defensive gems from his catcher Luke Barch, who threw out two base runners, and shortstop Noah Lower, who made a beautiful backhand and terrific throw from deep in the hole.

With the game scoreless after two innings, Eagle River’s Gavin Henning got the Wolves started with a triple to lead off the third inning. Gavin Oakley drove him in and then Josh Thompson singled and scored on Lower’s RBI single for a 2-0 lead.

Connor Johnson’s bunt single scored Stefan Retzlaff in the fourth inning. Johnson has two hits in the state tournament – a bloop and a blast. He has his team’s lone home run in the state playoffs.

Meanwhile, Witte was dealing. He had back-to-back strikeouts to end the second inning, a comebacker to end the third and retired the Kings 1-2-3 in the fourth and sixth. Relief pitcher Jack Malloy got the final two outs to combine on the shutout.

Eagle River (21-8)  will face off against South for the championship Tuesday night at 5:30 at Mulcahy Stadium.

This is new territory for the Wolves. They played in the state tournament for the first time in 2007 and made the semifinals in 2012. Before last year, Eagle River hadn’t been back at state since 2013.

Under head coach Bill Lierman, the Wolves have made back-to-back state semifinals and will now play for a Legion state title for the first time. Lierman comes from a winning pedigree and has won multiple Legion championships as a player and coach at Chugiak.

Ketchikan was shooting for its first appearance in a state title game since 1983.

Even though the Kings didn’t get there, they still made history and qualified for the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament for the first time.

This was the first time Ketchikan was back at the Legion State Tournament since 2016 and the first time they won a game since 1983. The Kings finished 2-2 and will continue their season at the NWCART, Aug. 6-10 at Mulcahy Stadium.

Jesse Loughman pitched six innings for the Kings. He retired six of the first seven batters and needed only four pitches to cut through Eagle River's 3-4-5 hitters in the fifth inning. Eisenhower and Isaac Ramano had base hits for Ketchikan (15-12).

State: South fends off Juneau, extends win streak to 12

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 26, 2021

Semifinal #1: South 12, Juneau 5

South 12, Juneau 5

Maddux Soland and Joey Serra each were 3-for-4 and among four Post 4 players with two RBIs as the Wolverines clawed back from an early hole to win going away in the semifinals of the Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Reid Brock and Kaden Bevegni also had two RBIs as South (26-2) posted its 12th straight victory and advanced to the state championship game for the first time since 2014.

The run support was plenty for ace Isaac Johnson, who bounced back after a rough first inning with five consecutive scoreless frames in another strong performance by the right-hander.

From the start of the second inning to one out in the sixth, Johnson was one over the minimum for 4.1 innings as he induced mostly groundouts and popups.

Johnson continued his mastery at Mulcahy, improving to 6-0 with a 1.23 ERA over his last six starts in the big house. He has 37 strikeouts in 34 innings during that stretch of games that include the CIC Tournament, the ASAA State Tournament, the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic and the Legion State Tournament.

Juneau made Johnson look human in the first inning after touching him up for four hits and one walk to build a 4-0 lead. Gavin Millard and Austin McCurley knocked in runs, an error brought home a run and so did a balk.

South didn’t flinch.

The Wolverines answered with a five-run bottom half of the inning on RBIs from Kade Bevegni, Dylan Maltby, Joey Serra and Reece Ivanoff. Begegni actually had two RBIs on a triple over the left fielder’s head and leads the state tournament with eight RBIs in four games.

South came out swinging in the fourth inning with four consecutive singles, capped by Brock's two-run base knock that made it 7-4. In the fifth inning, Soland’s two-run single and a second RBI single by Serra pushed the lead to 11-4.

Juneau (19-7) got off to a dream start off one of Alaska’s aces, getting base hits from Isaiah Nelson, Christian Ludeman, Millard and McCurley with a walk by Brock McCormick mixed in.

After that, though, it was tough sailing. The defense did turn a double play to end the third inning and in the sixth inning McCormick worked a 10-pitch walk. Nelson drove in his team’s fifth run in the seventh inning.

Juneau was eliminated from the state tournament but did qualify for the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament, Aug. 6-10 at Mulcahy Stadium.

Matson: West wins, will face Wasilla for title Tuesday

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 26, 2021

West 15, North Pole 6

The Post 1 Eagles scored 11 runs in the first inning without a base hit and cruised into the championship game after beating the Post 30 Wild at Mulcahy Stadium. 

West will face Wasilla Post 35 for the title Tuesday.

The Eagles couldn't have asked for a better start as North Pole pitchers struggled with command, issuing eight walks and hitting two batters in a 30-minute first inning.

West sent 16 batters to the plate in the first inning and all nine starters had an RBI in the first frame, most of them coming on bases-loaded walks.

Athena Clendaniel started and struck out two in her only inning of work. Liam Gunn came up and threw the final four innings, throwing three straight scoreless frames before running into trouble in the fifth.

To its credit, North Pole kept battling. Despite digging an emense hole, the Wild went out swinging.

They scored four runs in the top of the fifth inning to almost thwart the mercy rule, getting RBI singles from Logan Fischer and Noah Perkins. Ethan Frollo had an RBI double in the first inning.

In the end, North Pole outhit West 6-2. The Eagles didn't get their first hit until the third inning when Gabe Catterinichio chopped a slow roller down the third-base line.

Tuesday's championship game is set for 10 o'clock in the morning, with an if-necessary game scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Wasilla is the only undefeated team in the tournament.

In fact, the Road Warriors have never lost a game in the Matson Invitational, improving to 8-0 all-time after beating West in the first semifinal on Saturday. Wasilla won the 2018 Matson title.

State Tournament: The M&M boys and 'Brock Star' shine

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 25, 2021

Day 4 scores: Juneau over Eagle River 3-2; South over Dimond 10-0

Juneau 3, Eagle River 2

Gavin Millard and Brock McCormick delivered back-to-back RBI singles in the sixth inning to rescue the Post 25 Midnight Suns, who stayed alive in the Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Trailing 2-1 heading into the sixth, Isaiah Nelson and Oliver Mendoza hit consecutive singles to get the party started. With two outs, the M&M boys came up clutch with Millard's single tying it and McCormick's single putting Juneau ahead for good.

Relief pitcher Kai Schmidt picked up the winning decision with two innings of scoreless relief.

With the win, Juneau (19-6) moved into a three-way tie with Eagle River and Service atop the Alyeska Pool at 2-1. Eagle River and Juneau advanced to the state semifinals based on a tiebreaker of fewest runs in games between the three tied teams.

Juneau starter Garrison Luben worked around seven walks to pitch five innings. He walked the first hitter in each of the first four innings before hitting a batter to lead off the fifth inning.

Eagle River (20-8) had its chances, putting on seven of the first 13 batters but managing only one run. The Wolves also hit into two double plays, including one to end the game.

Noah Lower drove in both runs for Eagle River, lacing an RBI single in the first inning and another in the fifth inning.

Lower also started and pitched well, retiring the Midnight Suns 1-2-3 in each of the first, second and fifth innings.

He also got some delightful defense from left fielder Gavin Oakley, who made a couple nice catches, including a diving gem to rob extra bases and save a run.

South 10, Dimond 0

Reid Brock went 4-for-4 with two RBIs and Gavin Partch pitched five scoreless frames as the Post 4 Wolverines made quick work of the Post 21 Lynx on Day 4 of the Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Nicknamed 'The Brock Star,' the second baseman rocked Dimond pitching and scored a run in the first inning, ripped an RBI single in the fourth and laced an RBI double in the fifth.

South was already guaranteed a spot in the state semifinals, but they still brought their A-game despite it not really mattering in terms of qualifying.

South nearly batted around in the first inning and scored five runs, four of them unearned. It became a theme of the night as the Lynx commited six errors.

The Wolverines (25-2) manufactured two runs on double steals and they also turned two 4-6-3 double plays.

In the fourth, Sylar Sugita drew a leadoff walk and came around to score on Brock's single to make it 7-0.

In the fifth, Reece Ivanoff drew a leadoff walk and scored on an error. Kellen Curtis reached on an error and came home on Brock's double. Then Brock scored the final run on an error that brought the game to a close on the mercy rule.

Dimond's Peyton Montaga singled in the first but was erased on a double play. Garrett Lick singled to lead off the second and got all the way to third base with two outs, but Partch struck out the next two batters to end the threat.

Parch struck out two batters and allowed no walks. He was good and lucky. In the fifth, a sharp comeback glanced off his glove and was redirected perfect to shortstop Curtis, who threw out the batter.

Matson: East honors fallen coach with comeback victory

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 25, 2021

Day 4 scores: East over Fairbanks 16-15; North Pole over Bartlett 6-3

East 16, Fairbanks 15

This was for you, Coach Barnhart.

Playing with heavy hearts after the death of their coach, the Post 34 Thunderbirds rallied from an eight-run deficit to defeat the Post 11 49ers on Day 4 of the Matson Invitational at Bartlett High School.

Assistant coach Jeff Barnhart passed away overnight in news that sent shock and sadness throughout the Alaska baseball community.

His son Zack batted leadoff and contributed to the nine-run rally in the sixth inning with an RBI single.

East's Jacob Hulst hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning, scoring Zack, who had walked.

Andrew Malone drove in two runs and picked up the winning decision with three innings of scoreless relief.

Fairbanks banged out 13 hits and got five RBIs from Shaun Conwell, who was 3-for-5. Tyler Moore tripled and scored four runs. Miles Fowler and Caden Davis each had two hits and combined for five runs and three RBIs.

The 31 runs were the most for a game in the eighth annual Matson Invitational.

North Pole 6, Bartlett 3

Thomas Forquer tied the game with his two-run double and then scored the go-ahead run on an error as the Post 30 Wild rallied to beat the Post 29 Golden Bears on Day 4 of the Matson Invitational at Bartlett High School.

Ethan Frollo added a sac fly and Noah Perkins drove in the final run with an RBI double as North Pole brought him six runs in the fifth inning to take control.

The Wild didn't score before or after, but it didn't matter. That one big inning was enough to do the trick.

With the win, North Pole advances to the Matson semifinals against West as the tournament shifts to the big house at Mulcahy Stadium.

Pitchers Logan Fischer and Kaiden Clark combined to keep the Bartlett bats in check. Fischer went the first five and Clark closed it out with two innings.

Bartlett's Carl Colavecchio crushed a two-run home run to left field that gave the Bears a 2-0 lead in the third inning.

Corey Gagnebin doubled home Nick Brandal in the fifth ining to make it 3-0. Brandal played a nice first base, especially with fab footwork to stay on the bag on errant throws.

Eli Corwin pitched all six innings for the Bears, with four of his six runs being unearned.

NWCART to feature a fifth Alaska team after Utah bails

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 25, 2021

As always, the Legion AA state champion will represent Alaska at the Northwest Regional on the road to the World Series. This year's tournament is in Gillette, Wyoming.

And as always, the state tournament runner-up will play in the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament, which returns to Anchorage for the first time since 2014.

This time, though, so will the third-place team from the state tournament. And the fourth-place team and Matson Invitational.

Now the state's fifth-place team will get to play as well after Utah backed out.

The NWCART will feature three Lower 48 teams from Montana, Idaho and Wyoming and five teams from Alaska.

A team from Alaska has never won the NWCART title.

Will this be the year? You gotta like the odds with five Alaska teams in the field.

Northwest Regional (Road to Legion World Series)

Aug. 3-7 @ Wyoming

Alaska Qualifer

Champion State Tournament

Northwest Class A Regional Tournament (NWCART)

Aug. 6-10 @ Mulcahy Stadium

Alaska Qualifers

Second-Place Team State Tournament

Third-Place Team State Tournament

Fourth-Place Team State Tournament

**Fifth-Place Team State Tournament

Matson Invitational Champion

**Fifth-Place Tiebreakers

Clear cut fifth place team is only team in both Alyeska and Denali team that has 2-1 record.

If two teams are tied at 2-1 there will be a playoff game Monday at 7:45pm at Mulcahy Stadium. The winner advances to the NWCART.

If two or more teams are tied at 1-2 in either Alyeska and Denali then head-to-head within each pool will determine the one team from each pool that will advance to Monday 7:45pm game. The winner advances to the NWCART.

In a pool where teams finish 2-1, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, one team at 1-2 will advance to the semifinals based on a tiebreaker for fewest runs in pool play among the three tied teams. The remaining two teams will use a head-to-head tiebreaker to determine possibly playing someone unless that other pool has a 2-1 team not in semifinal.

State Tournament: Hammerin' Helgeson powers Service

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 24, 2021

Day 3 scores: Service over Juneau 3-2; Ketchikan over Palmer 9-3; Eagle River over Chugiak 10-3

Service 3, Juneau 2

Hammerin' Henry Helgeson blasted a two-run home run in the first inning and Hutton Stiles and Sean Giffen combined on a two-hitter as the Post 28 Cougars defeated the Post 25 Midnight Suns on Day 3 in the Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Helgeson crushed a pitch over the left-field wall - his third postseason home run over the last two seasons.

Helgeson and Coen Niclai pounded back-to-back doubles in the fifth inning to put Service ahead 3-1. Helgeson was 2-for-3, Hunter Christian was 2-for-4 and Coen was 1-for-2. That was it for Service hits.

The Cougars (21-8) relied heavily on pitching and working around nine base on balls, including two intentional walks to Juneau slugger Christian Ludeman. Both times, Service struck out the next batter to end an inning.

Stiles struck out six batters and escaped a runner-on-third, no-out jam in the fifth inning. He fielded a comebacker and faked a throw to first base and then quickly turned to kickstart a rundown that led to an OMG out.

A high pitch count led to his departure after five innings. Enter Giffen, who is better known as an infielder than pitcher. You wouldn't know it the way he threw the ball, recording a six-out save and ending the game with a called third strike.

Juneau did what Juneau does at the state tournament - fight, claw and stratch for seven innings, making nothing easy for opponents.

Starter Isaiah Nelson went the distance, settling down after the first inning to allow only one run over the next five frames. His defense helped him out with a double play.

In the third inning, Brock McCormick missed a run-scoring double by a foot down the left-field line. In the next inning, Juneau finally got on the scoreboard after Ludeman walked and scored on a squeeze play executed by Chase Foster.

Juneau loaded the bases but did not score in the fifth inning. The Midnight Suns (18-6) scored in the seventh after Nelson hit a bloop single and later scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-2.

Ketchikan 9, Palmer 3

Hayden McGarrigan gave the Post 3 Kings exactly what they needed, pitching 6.2 innings to get the winning decision and highlight a 9-3 win over the Post 15 Pioneers on Day 3 of the Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

McGarrigan gave up one unearned run through the first five innings, retiring nine straight batters at one point. He threw first-pitch strikes and trusted his defense, a winning combo that paid dividends for a guy who struck out only two batters.

Dylan Nedzwecky collected three RBIs and Isaac Ramano went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Leadoff hitter Terik Brown went 2-for-3 with a triple and three runs.

One day after Ketchikan won its first game at the Legion State Tournament since 1983, the Kings ran it back. 

The Kings took a 4-1 lead in the third inning, thanks in part to Brayden Gentry's RBI HBP and Nedzwecky's two-run single.

Ketchikan (15-11) pushed the lead to 6-1 after executing a hit-and-run and led to one run before an error led to another run.

Pinch-hitter Colby Hanchey singled in a run and came around to score to make it 7-2. Ramano's two-out, two-run single made it 9-2.

Palmer ran into a buzz saw in McGarrigan, but the Pioneers kept battling.

Langdon Guggenmos pitched five innings and and kept the Kings off the scoreboard in three frames. He also drove in a run with an RBI single in the sixth inning to get Palmer within 6-2.

Brayden Parrent scored on Kaden Ketchum's RBI single with two outs in the seventh inning for the Pioneers (15-14).

Eagle River 10, Chugiak 3

The Wolves scored six runs in the third inning to break open the game and cruise to a 10-3 victory over the Post 33 Mustangs on Day 3 of the Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

The first six batters in the third inning scored as Eagle River sent 12 men to the plate and pushed its lead to 7-0.

Stefan Retzlaff went 2-for-2 with a double and three RBIs, including a two-run single to make it 4-0 in that pivotal third inning.

Connor Johnson made the play of the game when he scored from third base on a pop up behind the plate after the pitcher failed to cover home.

Josh Thompson went 2-for-4 and Gavin Henning and Gavin Oakley added RBIs for Eagle River (20-7), which went 3-0 against Chugiak this season.

Starting pitcher Luke Barch pitched 3.2 scoreless frames and relievers Jack Molloy and Alex Mullen sealed the deal.

Chugiak got on the board in the sixth inning on two-out RBI singles by Jayden Steckel and pinch-hitter Trevor Pomeroy.

The Mustangs (13-14) had their season come to a close after going 0-3 in pool play.

Matson: Wasilla improves to 8-0 all-time in tournament

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 24, 2021

Day 3 scores: Wasilla over West 12-1; Bartlett over Kenai 12-6; North Pole over Fairbanks 5-4

Wasilla 12, West 1

The Post 35 Road Warriors continued their mastery in the Matson Invitational, scoring early and often en route to a 12-1 win over the Post 1 Eagles on Day 3 of the tournament at Bartlett High School.

Wasilla improved to 8-0 all-time in the Matson Invitational dating back to its 5-0 title run in 2018.

Nolan Murphy homered and joined Pedro Camacho and Jace Crall in the two-RBI club. Crall finished 2-for-4 and Will Plowman scored three runs.

Wasilla took care of business with runners in scoring position, stranding just three runners in the game and scoring 12 runs on six hits.

Starter Levi Farrelly went the first six and relieve Jacob Hansen closed the door with one inning. After giving up a run in the first inning, Farrelly tossed nothing but goose eggs.

Wasilla advanced to the Matson Invitational title game on Tuesday, giving the Road Warriors two days off.

West's Ivan Tillman drove in his team's lone run, scoring Savion Bishop.

Tillman also started on the mound and walked six in six innings of work.

West will have Sunday off before getting back on the field Monday for a consolation game and a chance to advance to the title game.

Bartlett 12, Kenai 6

Connor Sessoms and Carl Colavecchio combined to hit for the cycle, with Sessoms taking care of the home run and single and Colavecchio chipping in with a double and triple, to power the Post 28 Golden Bears on Day 3 of the Matson Invitational at Bartlett High School.

The bash bros combined to drive in seven runs as Sessoms went 3-for-5 with four RBIs and Colavecchio going 2-for-4 with three RBIs.

Bartlett is among the final four teams at the Matson Invitational for the first time since 2014.

Down 3-0 after three innings, the Bears clawed back with a seven-run fourth, three-run fifth and two-run seventh, highlighted by Sessoms' two-run bomb.

Luke Helgeson went 1-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs. John Grantier pitched 4.1 innings and reliever closed it out with 2.2 scoreless frames.

Kenai went out swinging, banging out 11 hits, including a triple by Harrison Metz and doubles by Atticus Gibson, Nick Werstein, Sam Berry and Daltyn Deborski.

Gibson was 3-for-4 with two RBIs while Metz, Berry and Levi Mickelson each had two hits.

North Pole 5, Fairbanks 4

The Post 30 Wild struck for three runs in the sixth inning to take the lead and Connor Lanser and Kaiden Clark shut the door in the seventh in a 5-4 win over the Post 11 49ers on Day 3 of the Matson Invitational at Bartlett High School.

Lanser pitched 6.2 innings but had to leave with two outs in the seventh due to the 105-pitch count limit. His only walk came to the last batter he faced. Enter Clark, who threw one pitch to get the save.

North Pole improved to 5-0 against Fairbanks at the Matson Invitational since the tournament started in 2014.

Slugger Josh Dutra hammered a home run in the fourth inning to give the Wild a 2-1 lead.

Thomas Forquer, Logan Fischer and Ayden Accola each had RBI walks in that three-run sixth inning that put the Wild ahead, the fourth lead change in the game.

North Pole's Noah Perkins and Josh Dutra each went 2-for-3 and scored two runs.

Fairbanks took a 4-2 lead in the fifth inning on back-to-back RBIs by Gabriel Angaiak (sac fly) and Chris Luskleet (single).

The 49ers turned a wild and very rare 9-3-2 double play to end the third inning.

Davis - the Legion All-Star Game star with a mammoth home run - drove in a run and pitched 5.1 innings. Teagen Emerson tossed 1.2 innings of scoreless relief.

Alaska Legion's annual Team of Excellence revealed

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 24, 2021

FIRST TEAM

PITCHER

Hutton Stiles                   Service                  3-1 W/L 1.52 ERA 27.2 IP 52 K

Reid Brock                      South                    5-0 W/L 1.69 ERA 33 IP 33 K

Isaac Johnson                  South                    4-0 W/L 1.40 ERA 25 IP 29 K

Gavin Fischer                 North Pole             2-2 W/L 3.19 ERA 30.2 IP 43 K

Hayden McGarrigan       Ketchikan             5-1 W/L 3.00 ERA 28 IP 27 K

Jason Gunderson             Palmer                   4-1 W/L 1.87 ERA  30 IP 47 K

Jayden Steckel                Chugiak                5-0 W/L 1.12 ERA 31.1 IP 28 K

Brock McCormick          Juneau                  2-0 W/L 3.68 ERA 19 IP 21 K

Preston Rau                    Chugiak                3-2 W/L 3.33 ERA 35.2 IP 27 K

Olin Rawson                   Juneau                  3-0 W/L 2.10 ERA 20 IP 13 K

Luke Smith                     Dimond                2-1 W/L 2.40 ERA 20.1 IP 17 K

CATCHER

Dylan Maltby                 South                              .444 AVG 18 RBI 17 R

Dylan Nedzwecky           Ketchikan                       .343 AVG 25 RBI 11 R

Brock McCormick          Juneau                             .326 AVG 6 RBI 13 R

INFIELDER

Orazio Ramos                 Eagle River                     .511 AVG 22 RBI 9 XBH

Noah Lower                    Eagle River                     .442 AVG 16 RBI 7 XBH

Ethan Frollo                   North Pole                      .500 AVG 7 XBH 12 R

Kaden Ketchum              Palmer                            .471 AVG 11 RBI 13 R

Maddux Soland               South                              .421 AVG 14 RBI 11 R

Eric Galosich                  Service                            .483 AVG 12 RBI 16 R

Jeremiah Eneix                Dimond                          .380 AVG 11 RBI 14 R

Miles Fowler                  Fairbanks                       .444 AVG 13 RBI 18 R

OUTFIELD

Evan Walker                   Palmer                            .429 AVG 9 RBI 8 R

Hutton Stiles                   Service                           .400 AVG 2 HR 16 R

Josh Thompson               Eagle River                     .383 AVG 12 RBI 15 R

Terik Brown                   Ketchikan                      .355 AVG 24 R 21 SB

Jacob Hansen                  Wasilla                           .327 AVG 24 R 18 SB

Ryan Henrickson             Dimond                          .333 AVG 1 HR 14 RBI

Andrew Gruszynski        Chugiak                          .333 AVG 20 R 9 SB

UTILITY

Kellen Curtis                  South                              .422 AVG 11 RBI 25 R

Henry Helgeson              Service                           .333 AVG 15 R 11 SB

Chris Luskleet                 Fairbanks                       .365 AVG 11 RBI 11 R

HEAD COACH OF THE YEAR

John Milner          Ketchikan

Willie Paul            Service

John Sims             Chugiak

ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR

Jasen Thompson   Eagle River

Matt Sugita           South

Ty Walters            Service

 

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HONORABLE MENTION

PITCHER

Ivan Tillman                   West                     3-2 W/L 4.12 ERA 35.2 IP 37 K

Athena Clendaniel          West                      4 SV 3.43 ERA 18.1 IP 10 K

Eli Corwin                      Bartlett                 1-1 W/L 5.34 ERA 11 IP 9 K

Jeremiah Eneix                Dimond                2-2 W/L 5.25 ERA 21.1 IP 31 K

Ryan Henrickson             Dimond                 1-0 W/L 0.00 ERA 8.2 IP 13 K

Oliver Mendoza              Juneau                  1-0 W/L 0.00 ERA 7.2 IP 10 K

Harrison Metz                 Kenai                    1-5 W/L 4.24 ERA 34.2 IP 43 K

Isaac Ramano                  Ketchikan             2-2 W/L 3.81 ERA 22 IP 21 K

CATCHER

Eli Corwin                      Bartlett                 .308 AVG 3 RBI .700 OPS

Coen Niclai                     Service                  .333 AVG 17 RBI 12 R

Hunter Rau                    Chugiak                .413 AVG 15 RBI 12 R

Logan Sweet                   Dimond                .273 AVG 12 RBI 5 XBH

INFIELDER

Adam Boyce                   Dimond                .271 AVG 13 R 7 SB

Reid Brock                      South                    .422 AVG 16 RBI 22 R

Athena Clendaniel          West                     .457 OBP

Ethan Clifford                 North Pole             .429 AVG 12 RBI 10 R

Bryce Erickson               East                       .311 AVG 8 RBI 6 R

Sean Giffen                     Service                            .333 AVG 15 R 5 SAC

Orion Halliburton           West                                .286 AVG 19 SB 14 R

Jesse Loughman              Ketchikan                       .300 AVG 12 RBI .377 OBP

Christian Ludeman         Juneau                             .357 AVG 2 HR 9 RBI

Oliver Mendoza              Juneau                           .265 AVG 13 R .446 OBP

Harrison Metz                 Kenai                              .407 AVG 16 R 20 SB

Stefan Retzlaff                Eagle River                     .385 AVG 16 RBI 5 3B

Joey Serra                       South                             .366 AVG 19 RBI 10 R

Connor Sessoms              Bartlett                            .286 AVG 11 RBI 7 R

OUTFIELD

Byson Malave                 Wasilla                           .308 AVG 23 RBI 15 R

Carson Maltby                Service                           .457 AVG 16 RBI 14 R

Olin Rawson                   Juneau                            .293 AVG 10 RBI 10 R

Luke Smith                     Dimond                          .263 AVG 5 RBI 7 R

UTILITY

Zack Barnhart                East                                 .341 AVG 9 RBI 10 R

Daltyn Deborski              Kenai                              .265 AVG 13 R 13 SB

Chase Foster                  Juneau                            .256 AVG 11 RBI .420 OBP

Ivan Tillman                   West                               .319 AVG 7 XBH 16 RBI

State Tournament: Service rallies for 7-6 walk-off win

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 23, 2021

Day 2 Scores: Service over Chugiak 7-6; Ketchikan over Dimond 7-3; South over Palmer 18-7

Service 7, Chugiak 6

Eric Galosich ripped a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Post 28 Cougars a walk-off win over the Post 33 Mustangs on Day 2 of the Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Coming to bat with his team down to its last out, Galosich scorched a ball to left field that got over the head of the outfielder, saving Service's season and pumping life into the No. 2 seed after getting thumpled 13-1 yesterday by Eagle River.

Hunter Christian started the seventh inning with a single and went to second on Landon Martindal's sac bunt. Henry Helgeson was intentionally walked to put runners on first and second. One out later, Galosich played hero.

Service (20-8) got 5.1 innings from starting pitcher Jake Rafferty, who was good (allowed only two hits) but not great (issued eight walks).

Christian finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and the tying run. Helgeson was 2-for-3 with an RBI, Galosish went 2-for-4 and Coen Nicali had a hit, RBI and two runs.

Chugiak played its heart out, then had it ripped out.

Trailing 3-0 early, the Mustangs battled back to tie it in the fourth inning and then took the lead in the sixth inning. Three was the magic number for Chugiak, which scored three runs off three hits as Service needed three pitchers to get out of the jam.

Hunter Rau's two-run single gave Chugiak a 6-5 lead. Colter Thomas drove in a run and Fischer Sims had two of his team's five base hits for the Mustangs (13-13).

Ketchikan 7, Dimond 3

Isaac Ramano spun six solid innings and the Post 3 Kings scored four runs off wild pitches to defeat the Post 21 Lynx on Day 2 of the Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

This was Ketchikan's first win at the Legion state tournament in forever. How long exactly? Thirty-eight years. Or 1983, when 'Return of the Jedi' premiered in theaters.

Ketchikan (14-11) scored seven runs on three hits. Caleb Eisenhower had two hits and his team's only RBI.

Dimond allowed the Kings to score four runs on wild pitches and two more on errors, falling into a deep hole and spent the rest of the game trying to get out.

Ramano did not help the cause, throwing shutout innings in four of his six frames and striking out five batters.

In addition to being his team's top hitter, Eisenhower threw an inning and stole two bases.

Dimond (14-11) did not reach base against Ramano until the fourth inning when Shane Stephan singled and came around to score on Logan Sweet's groundout.

The Lynx struck for two more runs in the sixth inning on RBIs by Sweet and Garrett Lick.

 Ryan Henrickson was 2-for-3 and Stephans finished 2-for-4 to lead the five-hit attack.

South 18, Palmer 7

Kaden Bevegni went 4-for-4 with six RBIs and also pitched two innings to carry the Post 4 Wolverines to a five-inning victory over the Post 15 Pioneers on Day 2 of the Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Dylan Maltby went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and four runs, and Reece Ivanoff tripled and drove in three runs.

But Bevegni was the star of the show for the top-seeded Wolverines (24-2).

His six RBIs are the most in a Legion State Tournament game since Kenai's Paul Steffensen had seven RBIs in 2016. It's the most for a South player at the tournament since Matt Ilalio's five RBIs in 2012.

Bevegni doubled in a pair of runs in the first inning, singled in two runs in the second inning and added RBI singles in the third and fourth innings.

Maltby reached base and scored in each of the fourth innings his team batted. He singled, doubled and walked twice.

South banged out 11 hits and earned nine walks in putting up nothing but crooked numbers.

Palmer (15-12) trailed 6-0 after the first inning before battling back for a five-run second inning, thanks to RBIs by Sam Woods Miller, Koen Leaders and Kaden Ketchum. Bryant Marks walked and later scored on an error to make it 6-5.

Marks got the Pioneers on the board again the third inning with an RBI single to make it 10-6.

Matson: West comes back in 7th to walk off with win

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 23, 2021

Day 2 Scores: West over Kenai 10-9; Bartlett over East 17-10; Wasilla over Fairbanks 18-13

West 10, Kenai 9

Evan Fitzgerald scored the winning run on a passed ball in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Post 1 Eagles rallied from a two-run deficit in the final inning to beat the Post 20 Twins on Day 2 of the Matson Invitational at Bartlett High School.

West trailed 9-7 entering the seventh inning before free passes sparked a rally, with four straight batters reaching base on walks. Ruari O'Brien-Holen's bases loaded walk pulled West within 9-8 and Savion Bishop's sac fly tied it at 9-9.

Michael Tillman got the win in relief of Joey Walker. Tillman pitched 3.2 innings, Walker threw 3.1.

Cyrus Clendaniel went 3-for-3 and scored three runs. Orion Haliburton was 2-for-3 with a double, three runs and two RBIs. Tillman drove in two runs and Gabe Catterinichio and Athena Clendaniel added RBIs.

Kenai built an 8-5 lead after throwing up a six spot in the fourth inning.

Sam Berry and Jacob Belger each drove in two runs for the Twins. Daltyn Deborski went 2-for-4 with a triple, run and RBI.

Atticus Gibson, Levi Mickelson and Andrew Pieh each had one RBI and pitched 3.2 innings over the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

Bartlett 17, East 10

Luke Helgeson went 4-for-4 to highlight his team's 17-hit attack as the Post 29 Golden Bears won a slugfest over the Post 34 Thunderbirds on Day 2 of the Matson Invitational at Bartlett High School.

The combined 27 runs made it the highest scoring game in the tournament's eight-year history.

Eight of nine starters got base knocks for Bartlett. Kevin Tapia went 3-for-4, Connor Sessoms and Nick Brandal were 2-for-3 and Eli Corwin was 2-for-5. Grantier drove in three runs and Helgeson, Sessoms and Carl Colavecchio each had two RBIs. 

East's Zack Barnhart went 2-for-5 with a double and three RBIs and Alan Contreras had a hit, two runs and two RBIs.

The T-birds also got two RBIs from Willy Nunez and one RBI from Angus Nicholson.

Wasilla 18, Fairbanks 13
Pedro Camacho drove in five runs for the Post 35 Road Warriors, who scored 10 runs over the seventh and eighth innings to win an 18-13 slugfest over the Post 11 49ers on Day 2 of the Matson Invitational at Bartlett High School.

Byson Malave, Nolan Murphy and Will Plowman each had three RBIs as Wasilla recorded 17 RBIs. Camacho, Malave and Andre Brown each had three hits.

Fairbanks trailed 12-8 going into the bottom of the seventh inning before batting around and tying the game to force extra innings.

Dylan Swarthout went 2-for-5 with two doubles, two RBIs and four runs. Players with one RBI included Chris Luskleet, Gavin Smeltner, Miles Fowler, Caden Davis, Gabriel Angiak and Tyler Moore.

The game took four hours to complete.

State Tournament: Palmer outlasts Dimond in 12 innings

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 22, 2021

Day 1 Scores: Palmer over Dimond 3-2; Eagle River over Service 13-1; Juneau over Chugiak 3-0; South over Ketchikan 5-1

Palmer 3, Dimond 2

The Palmer Post 15 Pioneers are going to party like it's 1989.

Palmer (15-12) won its first game at the state tournament in 32 years, thanks to Evan Walker's two-out RBI single in the 12th inning that provided a 3-2 win over the Dimond Post 21 Lynx on Day 1 of the Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Relief pitcher Koen Leaders retired all four batters he faced to pick up a winning decision in support of starter Jason Gunderson, who pitched eight innings in a no decision.

Gunderson and Dimond starter Ryan Henrickson were the story of the game as the pitching duel helped produce the seventh-longest game in the 69-history of the state tournament.

Henrickson struck out 14 batters in 7.2 innings. Gunderson struck out a half dozen and scattered seven hits and three walks. Both starters were forced out of the game because of the 105-pitch count.

Palmer's Bryant Marks went 3-for-5 and gave Palmer a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning with a bloop double to left field. But Dimond answered right back in the bottom of the fifth, thanks to Peyton Montagna (3-for-6), who singled and later scored on passed ball. Garrett Lick then doubled and came around on an error to tie the game at 2-2.

Dimond (14-10) had its chances, many of them, and left 15 runners on base.

Credit Palmer's pitching. Gunderson got out of a runner-on-third, one-out jam in the seventh inning. Landon Guggenmos escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the ninth inning. Leaders wiggled out of bases-loaded, two-out trouble in the 11th inning.

South 5, Ketchikan 1

Isaac Johnson threw five shutout innings and the Post 4 Wolverines ran their winning streak to nine games with a 5-1 win over the Post 3 Kings on Day of the Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Skylar Sugita went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and Maddux Soland tripled and scored twice as South (23-2) pulled away in the later stages of the game.

Joey Serra and Reece Ivanoff both added RBIs and Hunter Manderson and Reid Brock each pitched an inning of relief.

Serra also made the defensive play of the game, stretching to reach an errant throw to retire the side and save a run.

Early on, Johnson (7 Ks) was locked in a pitcher's dual with Ketchikan starter Jesse Loughman as the game was scoreless through the first three innings.

But then Loughman left the game, presumably to save him for later in the tournament. South scored two unearned runs before breaking out the sticks against the bullpen over the final innings.

Sugita sparked South's late-game surge. In the fifth inning, he singled, stole second and later scored to make it 2-0. In the sixth, he delivered a two-out, two-run base knock to put the game out of reach at 5-0.

Ketchikan (13-11) scratched a run across in the seventh inning on a pair of walks and a pair of fielder's choices.

The Kings put a runner in scoring position three times against Johnson, but couldn't get that clutch base hit. It's been a familair theme for Johnson, who has emerged as one of the top aces in the Alaska.

Juneau 3, Chugiak 0 

Pitchers Garrison Luben, Kai Schmidt and Isaiah Nelson combined on a 2-hit shutout to lead the Juneau Post 25 Midnight Suns to a 3-0 win over the Chugiak Post 33 Mustangs on Day 1 of the Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Schmidt got it done with his arm and his legs, twice scoring runs as a result of aggressive base runner, a hallmark of Juneau's success over the years.

He walked with one out in the fourth inning. With two outs, Nelson singled to center and Schmidt went first to third and when the outfield bobbled the ball Schmidt raced around third to score. He never broke stride on the play.

In the seventh inning, he reached after being hit by a pitch with one out and later scored on a two-base throwing error for the Midnight Suns (18-5).

Juneau's Gavin Millard made it 3-0 with an RBI single in the seventh inning that scored Porter Nelson.

Schmidt pitched 3.2 innings, Luben 2.1 innings and Isaiah Nelson picked up the save after working around a base hit and walk in the seventh inning.

Chugiak's Gabe Gruszynski broke up Juneau's no-hit bid with one out in the sixth with a clean single to right field. However, on the play, the outfielder tried to throw out Gruszynski at first base but the throw ricocheted off Gruszynski and rolled all the way to the fence. Gruszynski rounded second base and headed for third, but the throw got him on a bang-bang play.

Fischer Sims reached base three times on a single and two walks for the Mustangs (13-12). Preston Rau pitched well in his four innings of work, scattering four hits and three runs but allowing only one run - and it was unearned. In fact, every run Chugiak allowed was unearned.

Eagle River 13, Service 1

Connor Johnson mashed a tater and Cam Witte went the distance as the Wolves needed only six innings to knock off the Service Post 28 Cougars on Day 1 of the State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Eagle River (19-7) banged out 13 hits and had eight different players with at least one RBI. The Wolves scored in five of six innings, including an eight spot in the sixth inning.

Johnson smashed a pitch down the left-field line and over the wall to make it 3-0 in the fourth inning. 

Josh Thompson was 3-for-5 with a run and two RBIs, and Orazio Ramos went 2-for-4 with a double, three runs and two RBIs.

Eagle River had four extra-base hits, including doubles by Gavin Oakley and Witte. On the mound, Witte struck out six batters while giving up five hits and walk. He wiggled out of bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fourth inning when the game was still on the line.

Service (19-8) had five hits and turned a double play in the fourth inning. Henry Helgeson doubled and scored on Coen Nicali's RBI single for the team's lone run.

Matson: Wasilla, Bartlett tie tourney record with 24 runs

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 22, 2021

Day 1 Scores: Kenai over North Pole 4-2; Wasilla over Bartlett 17-7; Fairbanks over East 9-6

Wasilla 17, Bartlett 7

Nolan Murphy went 4-for-4 with a solo home run as Wasilla Post 35 pounded out 20 hits to beat the Bartlett Post 28 Golden Bears on Day 1 of the Matson Invitational at Bartlett High School.

Murphy was one of four players to knock in three runs, with the others being Andre Brown, Byson Malave and Will Plowman.

The 24 combined runs tied the tournament record for most runs, matching the 2019 slugfest between Ketchikan and North Pole.

Brown and Plowman each went 3-for-4. Murphy scored four runs and Andre Hansen and Brown each scored three times.

Bartlett scored all seven runs in the fourth inning. Wyatt Rust drove in two RBIs while Luke Helgeson, Nick Brandal, Connor Sessoms, Eli Corwin and John Grantier each drove in one run.

Corwin went 3-for-4 to highlight his team's six-hit attack.

Kenai 4, North Pole 2
Atticus Gibson and Sam Berry each drove in a run and were part of a four-man pitching staff that teamed up to lead the Kenai Post 20 Twins in a 4-2 win over the North Pole 30 Wild on Day 1 of the eighth annual Matson Invitational at Bartlett High School.

Gibson started on the mound and pitched two innings. Berry relieved him and threw 1.2 innings. Andrew Pieh followed with 2.2 innings and Harrison Metz closed it out with the final two outs for the save.

Berry, Metz and Daltyn Deborski combined for seven of their team's nine hits. The Twins scored twice in the third inning and never looked back, adding single runs in the fourth and seventh innings.

North Pole ace Gavin Fischer struck out eight batters over 6.2 innings. He allowed only two earned runs.

Logan Fischer went 3-for-4 at the plate and pitched the final two outs of the game.

The Wild banged out 10 hits, including a 2-for-3 effort by Ayden Accola. All-Stars Ethan Frollo and Ethan Clifford each drove in a run.

Fairbanks 9, East 6

Chris Luskleet went 3-for-3 and Olav Moeller pitched six innings to lead the Post 11 49ers to a 9-6 win over the East Post 34 Thunderbirds on Day 1 of the Matson Invitational at Bartlett High School.

Aden Saddler went 2-for-4 and his two-out RBI single gave Fairbanks an 8-6 lead in the sixth inning. Miles Fowler and Shaun Conwell reach had two RBIs, and Caden Davis drove in another run.

The 49ers ended the game with a double play

Moeller danced around trouble all night, scattering seven hits and four walks. He struck out four batters.

East's Daniel Mokom was 2-for-4 with two RBIs as the T-birds had nine hits.

Andrew Hickman, Andrew Malone and Angus Nicholson had RBIs for East. Jacob Hulst went 2-for-4.

American Division wins Legion All-Star Game 13-6

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 20, 2021

Juneau's Christian Ludeman clubbed a three-run home run and five American Division pitchers worked a scoreless inning in a 13-6 victory over the National Division in the Legion All-Star Game at Mulcahy Stadium.

The stars came out in the rain, with Ludeman going big fly in the sixth inning and Fairbanks'  Caden Davis crushing a two-run home run in the fifth inning. There was also a host of web gems by Davis, Wasilla's Jacob Hansen, Bartlett's Eli Corwin and Ketchikan's Dylan Nedwecky.

Despite the showers, nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the all-stars and crowd. There was energy and electricity in a game that showcased players from all 15 Legion teams in the state.

Ludeman finished 2-for-3 with four RBIs and three runs. He doubled in a run in the second inning with a mammoth double that one-hopped off the center field wall 400 feet away from home plate. It would probably would have been a home run in any other ballpark in the state.

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound slugger got his dinger in the seventh inning, ripping a fastball over the left-field wall that was gone the second it left his bat.

Speaking of no-doubters, Davis absolutely hammered a pitch in the fifth inning with a moon shot over the left-field wall that gave the National Division a 6-4 lead.

The American Division roared back behind two-run base knocks by Alex Bruce of Dimond and Corwin of Bartlett. Bruce tied the game at 6-6 with a single and Corwin’s double put the Americans ahead for good at 8-6. Ludeman’s bomb made it 13-6.

American Division pitchers Issac Johnson of South Reid Brock of South, Logan Fischer of North Pole, John Grantier of Bartlett and Preston Rau of Chugiak each threw a shutout inning.

Corwin finished with three RBIs and added a nice shoestring catch in the fifth inning.

Defense was a theme for the National All-Stars with Davis saving a run with an outstretched catch at first base, Nedwecky throwing out a base runner at second base with a perfect pinpoint toss and Hansen executing a beautiful diving catch in left field, going full Superman as he reached out to make the grab and save another run.

Davis finished 2-for-2 with a double and two runs. Ketchikan’s Terik Brown was 2-for-2 with a two-run double in the third inning that gave the Nationals a 4-0 lead. Service’s Henry Helgeson and Eagle River’s Stefan Retzlaff added RBIs.

Kenai’s Sam Berry pitched a 1-2-3 inning and caught a line drive at his chest in a move of quick reflexes and self-preservation.

2021 American Division.jpeg

 

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Rosters announced for Tuesday's Legion All-Star Game

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 18, 2021

The All-Star Game is at 7 p.m. at Mulcahy Stadium, broadcast live on the Alliance Sports Network.

 

 

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Post 20 holds Lance Coz Memorial Ceremony in Kenai

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 3, 2021

The Kenai Post 20 Twins said goodbye to their former longtime manager with the Lance Cox Memorial Ceremony at Oiler Park.

Coz, the heart and soul of the Kenai Twins Post 20 American Legion baseball team since 1975, passed away last fall at Providence Medical Center in Anchorage due to a heart attack. He was 73.

The Twins coaches and players honored Coz before a home doubleheader against Eagle River.

Coz was a giant in the Alaska baseball community, developing two MLB players and building a tremendous Twins program that qualified for the Legion state tournament 43 times in his 45 years.

“He was one of a kind,” said Robb Quelland, who had two sons play for Coz in addition to coaching with him.

Coz was pivotal in getting the Kenai Legion program off the ground and served as manager and head coach over his years, leading the Twins to state championships in 1991, 1995, 2012 and 2016.

"Lance was a pillar during his 45 years of leading the Kenai Post 20 Twins,” said Russ Baker, a former coach and current Alaska Legion chairman. “He coached several of the most successful American Legion players that Alaska has produced.”

 

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South's Maltby named Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 29, 2021

For the fourth time in five years, a baseball player from South Anchorage High School has been named Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year.

Senior catcher Dylan Maltby took home the honor after batting .410 with 17 RBIs in 17 games for the Wolverines.

Maltby was the catalyst for South’s undefeated state championship team.

“Dylan Maltby is the type of player who never stops competing,” said South coach Taylor Nerland.

Maltby reached base in 16 of 17 games to fuel a .625 on-base percentage. He also scored 15 runs.

“He is always looking for ways to improve his skills,” Nerland said. “Guys like Dylan are great to have on any team. It doesn’t matter where you need them to play, they get the job done.”

Maltby was one of the best catchers in the state and hit No. 3 in the state’s most explosive lineup. He was the emotional leader, a guy who never shined away from the big moment.

He is currently playing for the South Post 4 Legion team and will play collegiately at Hesston College in Kansas.

Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year

Winners

2021 Dylan Maltby South Anchorage

2020 Leland Wilson West Anchorage

2019 Jacob Woodall South Anchorage

2018 Michael Cesar Juneau-Douglas

2017 Jonny Homza South Anchorage

2016 Jonny Homza South Anchorage

2015 Nathan Bonck Ketchikan

2014 Scooter Bynum Monroe Catholic

2013 Erickson Fish Sitka

2012 Zach Ferntheil Service

2011 Adam Manzer West Anchorage

2010 Dylan Baker Juneau-Douglas

2009 Ross Venneberg Sitka

2008 Joe Kohan Juneau-Douglas

2007 Ryan Skillern South Anchorage

2006 Chad Nading East Anchorage

2005 Zach Mixson Juneau-Douglas

2004 Craig Thibodeaux Eagle River

2003 Anton Maxwell East Anchorage

2002 Antoine McLeod East Anchorage

2001 Corey Madden East Anchorage

2000 Brian Montalbo Dimond

1999 Chad Bentz Juneau-Douglas

Fairbanks wins by walk off to highlight Day 4 of Classic

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 27, 2021

Day 4: Fairbanks 7, Kenai 6; South 11, Juneau 3; Ketchikan 12, East 5

Fairbanks 7, Kenai 6
Fletcher Burnett lined a two-run single to left field in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Post 11 49ers a walk-off win on Day 4 of the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic at Mulcahy Stadium.

Fairbanks, which had just surrendered the lead for the first time in the top half of the seventh, had its first four batters reached base. Caden Davis ripped a single, Tyler Moore was hit by a pitch and pinch-hitter Aaron Conwell laid down a beautiful bunt base hit.

That set the stage for Burnett, who banged out his second hit of the game, this time the game winner to keep Fairbanks (6-6) in the playoff hunt at the midway point of the Legion season.

Burnett also picked up the winning decision at pitcher after throwing 2.1 innings in relief of starter Shaun Conwell, who struck out five batters in 4.2 innings. 

Burnett ended the fifth inning with a strikeout to leave runners on second and third. In the sixth inning, his catcher Gabe Angaiak cut down a runner trying to steal third base to end another scoring threat.

Fairbanks had 14 hits and got RBIs from Aden Sadler, Angaiak, Shaun Conwell, Dylan Swarthout and Davis. Angaiak was 3-for-3.

Defensively, left fielder Swarthout made a great catch against the fence in the seventh inning. Third baseman Chris Luskleet threw out a base runner at the plate in the first inning.

Kenai trailed 5-1 after two innings but never gave up, led by starting pitcher Atticus Gibson. After a tough start the right-hander settled down and threw shutout innings in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth.

Dalton DeBorski went 3-for-4 for the Post 20 Twins (3-8) and Sam Berry was 2-for-4 with an RBI that gave Kenai the lead at 6-5. 

Kenai's Harrison Metz had two RBIs, including the game-tying run on a fielder's choice in the seventh inning. He also made a sensational catch in the fifth inning after running 120 feet from his shortstop position.

South 11, Juneau 3
Reid Brock threw a 70-pitch complete game and brought home four RBIs to power the Post 4 Wolverines to an Alaska Legion league win on Day 4 of the Alaska Midseason Classic at Mulcahy Stadium.

Brock, a right-hander, retired 17 of the final 18 batters. The only base runner singled and immediately erased on a double play after the runner was called for interference.

He allowed five hits and no walks with four strikeouts over seven innings.

From top to bottom, the South lineup delivered. Leadoff hitter Kellen Curtis was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs, and No. 9 hitter Grayson Shaw was 2-for-2 with three RBIs.

This was South's 11th win in a row as the Wolverines rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat Juneau for the second time in three days.

South trailed 3-0 before Curtis hit a two-run triple and scored on Brock's RBI groundout. In the fifth inning, South struck for three runs on RBIS from Brock, Dylan Maltby and Joey Serra.

In the seventh inning, South got RBIs from Brock, Curtis and Luke Ivanoff, and Serra worked a 12-pitch walk.

The Post 25 Midnight Suns took a 3-0 lead in the second inning on RBIs Garrison Luben, Austin McCurley and Chase Foster. Juneau had four straight singles by Christian Ludeman, Oliver Mendoza, Olin Rawson and Luben to set the table.

Juneau starter Brock McCormick twice retired six straight batters at different times over his 6.1 innings of work. He also ended a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout in the fifth inning for the Midnight Suns (7-2).

Ketchikan 12, East 5

Dylan Nedzwecky went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs to highlight an 11-hit attack that carried the Post 3 Kings to an Alaska Legion league win in the final game on the final day of the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic at Mulcahy Stadium.

The catcher hit two doubles in the same inning as Ketchikan plated seven runs in the third frame. He led off the inning with a double and scored and then he laced a bases-clearing, three-run double to break the game wide open. He also threw out a base running trying to steal second base.

Thomas Kroscavage went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run, and Jesse Loughman was 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a run for the Kings (6-4).

Ketchikan pitcher Colby Hanchey threw 5.2 innings and carried a shutout into the fourth inning.

East's Andrew Hickman had two RBIs and Andrew Malone went 2-for-2. Zack Barnhart doubled, had an RBI and got two outs on the mound.

The Post 34 Thunderbirds battled all night, first fighting off the mercy rule to earn seven innings and then scoring three runs in their final at-bats.

East had base runners all night with five hits, 10 walks and five hit batsmen. The T-birds left 14 on base, stranding the bases loaded in the second, fourth, sixth and seventh innings.

A key hit here and there would have made a difference. But the effort was there, especially on defense with catcher Jared Krison throwing out a base runner trying to steal second base. There were also two great running catches by left fielder Alan Contreras and shortstop Barnhart.

East relief pitcher Bryce Erickson allowed just one run over 3.1 innings while striking out four.

Classic Day 3 sees Dimond, Juneau rally, Palmer pounce

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 26, 2021

Day 3: Juneau 4, Eagle River 3; Dimond 7, Wasilla 5; Palmer 6, Chugiak 2

Palmer 6, Chugiak 2
Jason Gunderson knocked in two runs and struck out seven batters of four innings to pick up the decision as the Post 15 Pioneers earned an Alaska Legion league win on Day 3 of the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic at Mulcahy Stadium.

Colton Haase went 2-for-4 with a run and RBI in addition to pitching a scoreless inning for Palmer (9-4). Brayden Parrent and Dylan Garrettson also had RBIs for the winners.

Leadoff hitter Kaden Ketchum doubled, scored two runs and pitched a shutout inning as Palmer pushed its winning streak to five games.

The Palmer defense saved at least three runs and flashed some serious leather. First baseman Brayden Methen made a great catch to end the third inning. Third baseman Landon Guggenmoss made a strong throw on a slow roller in the fourth inning and center fielder Drake Gallagher made a nice catch to end the sixth inning.

Chugiak's Jayden Steckel did a little bit of everything, and did it well. He went 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI. He pitched 2.2 scoreless innings of relief. And he made all three assists at third and pitcher.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak by the Post 33 Mustangs (5-8).

Dimond 7, Wasilla 5

Miah Eneix, Logan Sweet and Alex Bruce each drove in runs in the sixth inning as the Post 21 Lynx rallied for an Alaska Legion league win on Day 3 of the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic at Mulcahy Stadium.

Down 5-4 entering the sixth, Dimond (8-3) came alive for three runs to score for the first time since a four-run first inning.

Sweet finished 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs, and Bruce added two RBIs on a single and sac fly. Ryan Hendrickson singled, walked twice, scored twice and had an RBI.

Luke Smith picked up the winning decision with 1.2 innings of relief of starter Garrett Lick, who retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced before uncharacteristically losing his control (5 walks) that led to Wasilla's comeback.

Wasilla's Wyatt Walling smashed two doubles and drove in four runs, including a three-run, bases-clearing two-bagger in the top of the fourth inning that tied the game at 4-4.

Wasilla reliever Alex Prayner got a strikeout to end a bases-loaded threat to end the bottom of the fourth and keep the game tied.

The Post 35 Road Warriors (5-6) took the lead at 5-4 after Brandon Hona and Walling clubbed back-to-back doubles in the top of the sixth inning.

Dimond got its winning rally started after Adam Boyce walked and and Shane Stephan was hit by a pitch. Eneix's RBI single tied the game at 5-5 and Sweet's RBI single gave Dimond the lead for good.

Juneau 4, Eagle River 3

Brock McCormick drew a two-out bases-loaded walk in the sixth inning to produce the go-ahead run that provided an Alaska Legion league win on Day 3 of the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic at Mulcahy Stadium.

The Post 25 Midnight Suns (6-1) rallied from a 3-0 deficit and got a great performance from Isaiah Nelson, who pitched 4.2 innings of scoreless relief and drove in three runs.

Nelson was bumped down the batting order and responded with a 2-for-2 effort with a sac fly in the second inning and a game-tying, two-run single in the fourth inning.

Juneau took advantage of 11 walks and two hit by pitch, putting the leadoff runner on in five of six innings.

Eagle River got RBIs from Gavin Henning, Stefan Retzlaff and Connor Johnson. Johnson went 2-for-3 and also scored a run for the Wolves (7-5).

Catcher Luke Barch threw out three Juneau base runners trying to steal a base. He also had a base hit and pitched 1.1 innings of relief.

Eagle River third baseman Retzlaff made the defensive play of the game in the third inning when he made a diving forehand grab before throwing a strike to first base for the out.

Juneau improved to 3-1 in one-run games in league play.

South, Juneau, Service pick up wins on Day 2 of Classic

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 25, 2021

Day 2: Service 12, North Pole 2; Juneau 3, North Pole 2; South 3, Juneau 2

South 3, Juneau 2
Isaac Johnson went the distance and Joey Serra had two RBIs as the Post 4 Wolverines extended their 10-game winning streak with the Alaska Legion league victory on Day 2 of the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic at Mulcahy Stadium.

Johnson outdueled Juneau's Garrison Luben in a marvelous matchup that saw both starters pitching a complete game. 

Johnson allowed four hits and one walk while striking out five in seven innings. Luben scattered five hits and five walks while striking out three in six innings.

South (10-1) made several web gems on defense. Second baseman Reid Brock made a wonderful play deep in the hole followed by a strong throw across his body. Catcher Dylan Maltby picked off a base runner stranding a little too far off first base. Third baseman Maddux Soland made a beautiful backhand stab on a smash down the line.

In the first inning, Maltby singled and later scored on a wild pitch. In the third inning, Brock reached on a fielder's choice and later scored on Serra's RBI single to make it 2-0.

In the fifth inning, both teams converted leadoff walks into runs. In the top half, Juneau's Olin Rawson walked, went to second on a sac bunt and scored on Chase Foster's RBI single. In the bottom half, Kellen Curtis walked and eventually came home on Serra's sac fly.

The Post 25 Midnight Suns (5-1) pulled within a run in the seventh inning after Rawson reached on a fielder's choice, was bunted to second and scored on Foster's second RBI single of the game.

Juneau 3, North Pole 2

Olin Rawson threw a complete-game gem and the Post 25 Midnight Suns scored three runs on just three hits to survive on Day 2 of the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic at Mulcahy Stadium.

Rawson benefitted from a strong defense, which threw out a base runner at third base in the fourth inning and gunned down a runner at the plate in the seventh inning.

Both pitchers deserved a winning decision as Rawson and North Pole's Logan Fischer each retired nine of the final 10 batters they faced in a battle between aces.

Fischer struck out seven batters and made four assists, springing off the mound like a cat to pounce on bunts and dribblers.

Juneau's Oliver Mendoza went 1-for-3 with an RBI and Isiah Nelson, Brock McCormick and Rawson scored runs. Nelson scored on a passed ball to five Juneau (5-0) a 3-0 lead in the third inning.

The Post 30 Wild (4-7) struck for two runs in the fourth inning on Noah Perkins' two-out, two run double to center field.

Gavin Fischer went 2-for-3 with a triple and Ethan Frollo went 2-for-3 and made a nice running catch to save a run in the second inning.

For Juneau, this was the third straight time dating back to last season that the Midnight Suns beat North Pole by an identical 3-2 score.

Service 12, North Pole 2

The Post 28 Cougars held a hit parade as eight players combined for 12 base hits in the Alaska Legion league win on Day 2 of the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic at Mulcahy Stadium.

Hunter Christian, Coen Niclai, Owen Hickman and Carson Maltby each had two base knocks. Eric Galosich and Nick Coates each had two RBIs for the Cougars, who have won four in a row.

Service (9-4) batted around in the first inning en route to building a 6-0 lead. Malty had a two-out RBI in the first inning, a double and run in the second inning and made a great running catch in the fourth inning.

Cougars starter Hutton Stiles struck out nine batters over four innings of work. The only run he allowed came on a wild pitch after the batter reached base on a third-strike passed ball.

The Post 30 Wild (4-6) got base hits from Logan Fischer, Ethan Frollo and Ethan Clifford. Pinch-hitter Nick Jones drove in North Pole’s second run in the fifth inning.

Ketchikan rallies from seven-run deficit, wins at Classic

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 24, 2021

Day 1: Ketchikan 8, North Pole 7; Chugiak 9, West 4; Dimond 10, Bartlett 0

Ketchikan 8, North Pole 7
Dylan Nedzwecky went 2-for-4 and scored the winning run, and Bubba Williams pitched four scoreless innings of relief as the Kings rallied from a 7-0 deficit to win the Alaska Legion league game in the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic at Mulcahy Stadium.

The Post 3 Kings extended their four-game winning streak with an epic comeback victory, storming all the way back from a 7-0 deficit in the second inning. Ketchikan (4-1) scored six runs with two outs across the third, fourth and fifth innings.

Williams kept his team in the game with strong pitching out of the bullpen, including a four-pitch fourth inning. He also helped turn a double play in the third inning. Closer Terik Brown threw a clean seventh inning to collect the save.

Ketchikan's McKinley Hamilton tied the game in the sixth inning with a hit by pitch with the bases loaded and on the next play Nedzwecky scored the winning run on an error.

North Pole (4-5) banged out nine hits up and down its lineup and used a huge first two innings to build a 7-0 lead. Ten of the first 15 Post 30 Wild batters reached base to start the game while Logan Fischer drove in two runs and Ethan Frollo, Josh Dutra and Dalson Hines each had one RBI.

Gavin Fischer struck out six batters in 2.2 innings and was one of five Wild pitchers used on the night.

Chugiak 9, West 4

Connor Lanehart went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs and three RBIs to power the Post 33 Mustangs to an Alaska Legion league win at the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic at Mulcahy Stadium.

Lanehart hit a two-run double in the first inning and added an RBI single in the fourth inning as Chugiak continued its strong play with its third straight victory.

Preston Rau pitched 3.1 innings of scoreless relief, Gabe Gruszynski pitched two innings and scored two runs, and Fisher Sims went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run for the Mustangs (4-7). The Chugiak defense turned a double play in the seventh inning.

West's Orion Haliburton went 2-for-4 with a run. Joey Walker and Evan Fitzgerald had RBIs and Cyrus Clendaniel and Michael Halpern scored runs. Walker also pitched 2.1 innings of shutout relief for the Post 1 Eagles (2-8).

Dimond 10, Bartlett 0

Logan Sweet went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and Luke Smith pitched five shutout innings as the Post 21 Lynx snapped a three-game losing streak with an Alaska Legion league win at the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic at Mulcahy Stadium.

Sweet had a two-run single as part of Dimond's six-run in the first inning. He also had a RBI single as part of a three-run second inning.

Shane Stephan was 2-for-3 with a run and RBI while Ryan Henrickson, Alex Wright and Smith also drove in runs for the Lynx (6-3).

Bartlett (2-7) got base hits from Ashton Volkman, Carl Colavecchio, Corey Gagnebin and Bryer Greene. Gagnebin also made a defensive web gem.

Alaska 529 Midseason Classic features all 15 Legion clubs

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 21, 2021

June 24- June 27 at Mulcahy Stadium

Alaska has 15 Legion teams spread all over the state.

Catch them all in one place at the Alaska 529 Midseason Classic.

Every team will be in action at the four-day, 12-game baseball bonanza Thursday through Sunday at Mulcahy Stadium.

Come out to the park or watch every game live on the Alliance Sports Network broadcast at alaskalegon.com.

The league is as competitive as ever, with 12 teams separated by just one or two points in the standings.

Alaska 529 Midseason Classic 
All games at Mulcahy Stadium
Daily Schedule

JUNE 24
Bartlett vs. Dimond 1:00pm 
Chugiak vs. West 4:00pm
North Pole vs Ketchikan 7:00pm

JUNE 25
North Pole vs. Service 1:00pm
North Pole vs. Juneau 4:00pm
Juneau vs. South 7:00pm

JUNE 26
Eagle River vs. Juneau 12:00pm
Wasilla vs. Dimond 3:00pm
Palmer vs. Chugiak 6:00pm

JUNE 27
Kenai vs. Fairbanks 11:00am
South vs. Juneau 2:00pm
Ketchikan vs. East 5:00pm

Alaska 529 is an education savings plan designed to make it easy for parents and loved ones to save for education. Whatever sparks your child's imagination and curiosity, we can help you save for it. Open an account today with as little as $25. It’s never too early to plan for the future. Go to alaska529plan.com for more information.
 

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Local stars Wilson, Gatter lead Bucs over Camp All-Stars

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 17, 2021

Some familiar faces came back to haunt the Alaska Legion All-Stars during the annual Sladen Mohl Game against the Anchorage Bucs.

Bucs starter Leland Wilson out of West pitched five fabulous innings and infielder Ricky Gatter out of South went 4-for-4 and reached base in all five plate appearances to power the Alaska Baseball League team to a 13-3 victory in the exhibition game at Mulcahy Stadium.

The game capped the four-day College Coaches Camp, which celebrated its 27th year this summer.

Wilson, who just finished his freshman season at Texas Tech University, struck out seven batters while giving up four hits, one walk and one run.

The Bucs saved a run in the second inning after center fielder Woody Hadeen gunned down a runner at the plate, taking an RBI away from Dimond's Joe Moriarty.

Gatter, who just completed his freshman season at Skagit Valley College, lined base hits to all parts of the field in addition to an infield single. He scored twice, drove in two runs and was hit by pitch.

Another local player for the Bucs, former West player Luke Langnes from Grinnell College, walked twice, scored twice and had an RBI.

The Bucs' Pac-12 power hitter Jake Skipworth out of Cal-Berkeley had five RBIs on a double and two-run home run to left field.

For the Legion All-Stars, Eagle River's Jack Molloy pitched his team's lone scoreless inning and Eagle River's Josh Thompson, Bartlett's Carl Colavecchio and Wasilla's Pedro Camacho each scored a run.

Base hits came from Dimond's Logan Sweet and Moriarty, Eagle River's Josh Thompson and Cam Witte, and South's Isaac Johnson. Johnson also pitched 1.1 innings.

The Legion All-Star team featured 22 players, including eight underclassmen as the youth movement continues in The Last Frontier.

"The direction of Alaska baseball is moving upward," said Central Washington University's Joel Johnson, one of seven college coaches from the camp.

Johnson was also here in 2018 and said Alaska baseball has stepped up since then.

"That's a credit to the coaches in the area for taking care of the young guys," Johnson said.

The College Coaches Camp is sponsored by Alaska Airlines and the Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska.

The camp is named after its founding father Bill Lierman Sr., the former Chugiak coach and Bucs president who passed away in 2004.

The annual game was named after Sladen Mohl, who played for South and the Bucs before he was killed tragically by a DUI driver in 2019.

Here are the 2021 Camp All-Stars:

Carl Colavecchio Bartlett Post 29
Hunter Rau     Chugiak Post 33
Joe Moriarty     Dimond Post 21
Luke Smith     Dimond Post 21
Logan Smith     Dimond Post 21
Logan Sweet     Dimond Post 21
Josh Thompson     Eagle River
Noah Lower     Eagle River
Jack Molloy     Eagle River
Cam Witte    Eagle River
Landon Guggenmos Palmer Post 15
Kaden Ketchum     Palmer Post 15
Colton Haase     Palmer Post 15
Jake Rafferty     Service Post 28
Coen Niclai     Service Post 28
Sean Giffen     Service Post 28
Luke Ivanoff     South Post 4
Isaac Johnson     South Post 4
Maddux Soland     South Post 4
Will Plowman     Wasilla Post 35
Pedro Camacho     Wasilla Post 35

27th College Coaches Camp June 14-17 in Anchorage

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 10, 2021

Get four days of instruction from college coaches without leaving the state.

Register today for the 27th annual College Coaches Camp June 14-17 in Anchorage.

Here is this year's lineup of coaches:

Ryan Iliff (Jamestown University) 
Joel Johnson (Central Washington University) 
Luke Hare (Saint Martin's University) 
Daren Trainor (Lewis-Clark State College) 
Colby Watilo (George Fox University) 
Terry Baumgartner (Feather River College) 
Ryan Dettman (Feather River College)

Since 1994, college coaches from all over the country have come to The Last Frontier to work with Alaska Legion players and help them understand what it takes to play at the next level.

One of the founding fathers of the camp was Bill Lierman Sr., who passed away in 2004.

In 2005, Alaska Legion named this camp in honor of Lierman Sr., a the former longtime Chugiak Post 33 manager who dedicated much of his life to youth baseball in Alaska.

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Jessee wraps up fab freshman season at Gonzaga

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 10, 2021

Anchorage’s Brody Jessee saw his fabulous freshman season at the University of Gonzaga come to an end after a 9-4 loss to LSU in the NCAA Regional in Eugene, Oregon.

The freshman reliever finished it off by pitching a scoreless eighth inning, closing out one of the most successful seasons in Gonzaga baseball history.

Gonzaga finished the season 34-19 for a .642 winning percentage, the second highest in almost four decades. The Zags also had their highest-ever national ranking and best-ever seeding in their first NCAA Regional appearance since 2018.

Jessee, of South High fame, faced only three LSU batters during his lone inning of work. A leadoff single was erased by a double play and he struck out the final hitter he faced.

The Alaskan made 17 appearances on the season and was one of nine Gonzaga players to earn an All-West Coast Conference nod.

Jessee picked up two winning decisions and earned four saves, taking over as the Zags closer in April before a late-season injury kept him off the field for nearly a month.

The 6-foot-4 right-hander struck out 33 batters in 25 innings and posted a 4.68 ERA.

Jesse gave up nine of 13 earned runs in two games; take them out of the equation and his ERA drops to 1.64.

Homza has 2 HRs in same game, pushes hit streak to 13

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 8, 2021

Anchorage’s Jonny Homza wasted no time extending his 13-game hitting streak, sending the fourth pitch of the game over the left-field wall.

The leadoff hitter hammered a home run in the first inning and added another solo shot in the fifth inning to finish 2-for-4 for the Fort Wayne TinCaps in a 8-3 loss to the Lake County Captains in the High-A Central League.

This was the second time in 218 career games that the 21-year-old has hit two home runs in the same game. The first time was in 2019 when he played for Auckland of the Australian Baseball League.

Homza has now hit safely in 13 straight games, by far the longest stretch of his four-year pro career. This is the eighth time that the Alaskan has had a hitting streak of five games or longer. They have ranged from five games to seven games, but nothing like 13 games.

The former South star has raised his batting average 115 points from .140 to .255 since May 22, thanks to this hot streak. He’s also pushed his slugging percentage to a career-best .543 in 94 at-bats this season.

He’s batting .353 on 18-of-51 hitting across the last 13 games with three home runs and 16 RBIs.

Homza is usually the starting catcher but has been used at shortstop, third base and designated hitter this season.

D1 State: South scores historic win to cap 17-0 year

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 5, 2021

D1 State Tournament
Championship Game
South 19, Colony 0

Fourteen of the first 18 batters reached base and starter Isaac Johnson didn't allow a hit in five innings as the Wolverines capped a perfect 17-0 season with a record-setting victory in the ASAA D1 championship game at Mulcahy Stadium.

South crushed the ball and crushed several state tournament records, including most runs in a championship game and biggest blowout in a title game.

Maddux Soland became the first player to hit a home run over the new wall at Mucalhy Stadium, crushing a three-run bomb down the left-field line to highlight a 17-hit attack.

Sean Giffen went 3-for-4 and drove in three of his team's first nine runs. Curtis Hebert stayed hot with a 3-for-4 performance that included an RBI and three runs. Kellen Curtis had two RBIs, Lucas Wilkins batted 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, and Dylan Maltby went 2-for-4 with two runs.

Up and down the lineup, the Wolverines ate up Colony pitching. They had 11 hits and 14 runs in two innings. The most runs in a state title game before today came in 2011 when South beat Dimond 14-8 in 12 innings.

South outscored opponents 50-7 in three games at the state tournament, with the 40 runs beating the old tournament record of 35 set by Sitka in 2014.

Hebert went 8-for-10 with five runs in the tournament and Soland was 6-for-10 with 12 total bases.

The offense was so good, so OMG good, that it overshadowed Johnson's sensational start. He threw five shutout, no-hit innings to finish the season with a personal scoreless streak of 26.1 innings.

Johnson, a tall right-hander, racked up nine strikeouts and ended each of his five innings with a strikeout. His only trouble came in the third inning when he walked two and hit one to load the bases, but he ended the threat with a strikeout looking.

Johnson picked up two winning decisions in the state tournament, a four-inning stint against Wasilla in the first round and then a five-inning performance against Colony.

This was South's fourth state title in school history, the third most all-time.

For Colony, yes, the loss hurts, but it shouldn't take away from the historic season by the Knights. They advanced to the state title game for the first time in school history, beat a pair of Cook Inlet Conference frontrunners in the tournament and captured the Mid-Alaska Conference title.

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D2 State: Palmer wins first state title in new division

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 5, 2021

Championship Game: Palmer 7, Kodiak 3

D2 State Tournament
Championship Game
Palmer 7, Kodiak 3

Owen Hayes broke open the game with his RBI triple in the fourth and then recorded a rare three-inning save to lead the Moose to the first-ever ASAA D2 state championship.

The right-hander racked up five strikeouts, including a backwards K to end the game as Palmer players rushed the field in celebration of making school history.

This was the first year ASAA split baseball into two divisions and people expected Palmer to be strong and the Moose didn't disappoint, outscoring opponents 26-5 in three games.

Still, nothing is guaranteed in baseball. It wasn't until Hayes ripped a triple to score a run and then raced home on a passed ball to make it 7-1 in the fourth inning did Palmer fans start to think title town.

Even then, though, Kodiak answered with a pair of runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth on a Jason Foxworthy RBI single and Jack Malloy RBI double to make it 7-3. Malloy (3-3) and Foxworthy (2-3) combined for five of their team's seven hits.

Credit both pitching staffs for each finishing the game with three scoreless frames. Kodiak's Jace Crall went six innings and Foxworthy closed it out. 

Palmer's Dylan Garrettson crushed a solo home run in the first inning. Guggenmos went 3-for-5 and Garrettson, Landon Kitzman and Chad Landon each had two hits as the Moose had 12 on the night.

Starting pitcher Jason Gunderson struck out seven batters over four innings and made a sweet bare-handed grab on a comebacker with the bases loaded to end the third inning.

D1 State: Juneau gets back on track with 6-4 victory

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 5, 2021

Third-Place Game: Juneau-Douglas 6, Eagle River 4

D1 State Tournament
Third-Place Game
Juneau-Douglas 6, Eagle River 4

Christian Ludeman and Olin Rawson combined to pitch all seven innings and Caden Mesdag had three RBIs as the Crimson Bears won the third-place game at Mulcahy Stadium.

Ludeman pitched 5.2 innings, scattering six hits and five walks while striking out five. Only half of the four runs he surrendered were earned.

With the victory, Juneau has now won 29 games at the state tournament for the most of all-time.

Rawson closed it out for a four-out save, getting the final batter to flyout to center field with runners on second and third.

Juneau (15-3) tied the game at 2-2 in the third inning on Mesdag's two-run single. 

Later in the same frame, the Crimson Bears took the lead for good at 4-2 after scoring two runs on Ludeman's groundball to shortstop. Eagle River tried to turn a double play but the relay was late, allowing Mesdag to score from third base and Millard from second base. Millard never broke stride as he rounded third, catching Eagle River sleeping.

Mesdag's RBI single in the sixth inning pushed the lead to 6-4 for Juneau. Teammate Porter Nelson went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs.

Eagle River (11-6) got a 3-for-4 performance from Connor Johnson and RBIs from Cam Witte and Stefan Retzlaff. The Wolves played some nice defense, getting a double play in the first inning and left fielder Gavin Henning made a sensational catch to end the second inning.

Retzlaff also pulled his team within 5-4 with a two-out base knock to score Charlie Wallace.

D2 State: Lanser and Langer seal the deal for North Pole

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 5, 2021

Third-Place Game: North Pole 4, Soldotna 3

D2 State Tournament
Third-Place Game
North Pole 4, Soldotna 3

Connor Lanser and Simeon Langer came up clutch for the Patriots, with Lanser driving in the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning and Langer picking off two runners to end the third-place game at Wasilla High School.

Lanser's two-out single scored Noah Perkins with the tie-breaking run, capping a killer comeback that saw North Pole trail 3-0 after four innings.

Langer, a freshman left-handed pitcher, entered the game with one out and a runner on first base. He immediately picked off that runner. Then he gave up a single and picked him off to end the game, giving him a two-out save.

Alex Garcia picked up the winning decision, throwing 7.1 innings with 13 strikeouts. He allowed four hits and only one earned run, and kept his team close until North Pole got its offense going.

That's what happened in the fifth inning when the Patriots plated three runs on RBIs by Garcia, Ethan Frollo and Brayden Grorud.

Soldotna pitchers Derrick Jones, Andrew Pieh and Jacob Belger pitched well enough to win, scattering nine hits and holding North Pole scoreless in six of eight innings. They combined to leave eight runners on base.

Belger and Pieh each banged out two hits and scored one run. Levi Mickelson also scored a run.

D1 State: Murphy, Malave lead Wasilla to victory

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 5, 2021

Fourth-Place Game: Wasilla 10, Sitka 7

D1 State Tournament
Fourth-Place Game
Wasilla 10, Sitka 7

Nolan Murphy went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and three RBIs to help Wasilla outlast and outslug the Wolves in the state tournament's fourth-place game at Mulcahy Stadium. 

His three-run, bases-clearing triple in the second inning made it 6-1 and his double in the sixth inning put runners in scoring position for Byson Malave, whose two-out, two-run single pushed the lead to 9-1.

Will Plowman added two RBIs and Andre Brown kickstarted a seven-run second inning rally with a double and run that he finished off with a beautiful slide at home to avoid the tag on a close play at the plate.

George McSorley pitched 5.1 innings and got stronger as the game went on. Jacob Hansen picked up the four-out save.

Wasilla finished the season 17-6, bouncing back with two wins after losing in the first round.

Sitka fought back to make it 9-7 in the sixth inning. Samuel Johnson drove in his team's first run in the first inning and added three more RBIs in the sixth inning.

Nik Calhoun, Emanual Barrigan-Wilhelm and Trevin Carley also had RBIs for the Wolves (14-8).

D2 State: Monroe wins 19-16 slugfest over Homer

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 5, 2021

Fourth-Place Game: Monroe Catholic 19, Homer 16

D2 State Tournament
Fourth-Place Game
Monroe Catholic 19, Homer 16

In a game that featured 27 hits, the Rams closed the game on a 9-1 run to capture the fourth-place game at Wasilla High School.

Miles Fowler, Jonathan Swank and Joshua Swank each had two RBIs for Monroe Catholic. Gabriel Angaiak tripled and scored four times.

Swank also closed out the game on the mound, pitching the final 3.1 innings and allowing only two runs while striking out six.

Homer's Jonathon Gregoire crushed a no-doubt home run over the right-field fence.

Teammate Austin Ceccarelli went 3-for-5 with a double and three RBIs.

D1 Semifinals: Colony, South to battle for championship

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 4, 2021

Saturday's state championship game is at 3 p.m. at Mulcahy Stadium.

D1 State Tournament
Semifinals

South 11, Juneau-Douglas 7 

Curtis Hebert went 4-for-4, made all five assists at shortstop and pitched the final 1.2 innings to collect the save in a do-it-all performance that powered South to the title game for the first time since 2018. 

South stayed unbeaten with its 16th consecutive win, rallying from an early 5-1 deficit by scoring six unanswered runs and taking the lead for good on Maddux Soland's two-run triple in the fifth inning.

The Cook Inlet Conference champion Wolverines moved into Saturday's title game against Colony, the Mid-Alaska Conference champs. The title tilt is set for 3 p.m. at Mulcahy Stadium.

If the South coaches moved Hebert down in the batting order to get him going. It worked.

Hebert drove in the game's first run in the second inning with a RBI single. He doubled and scored in the fourth inning. He singled and scored in the fifth inning. And he singled and scored in the seventh inning. 

Hebert may have stayed after the game to mow the field, too.

Dude did everything. He made all three assists in the third inning and was summoned from the bullpen in the sixth inning, closing it out for Oliver Brown's winning decision. 

South improved to 5-1 against Juneau all-time at the state tournament, with all the games coming in the last ten years.

Juneau (14-3) got a huge game from No. 9 hitter Porter Nelson, who bought home 4 RBIs, three of them on a bases-clearing double to the gap in left center field. That extra-base hit gave Juneau a 5-1 lead.

Olin Rawson went 2-for-3 with two runs and Kai Schmidt had a hit, run and RBI for the Crimson Bears, who left 11 on base and brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Juneau will play Eagle River in Saturday's third-place game.

Colony 9, Eagle River 6

Everybody was eating for the Knights, who had four different players with two RBIs and put 22 runners on base en route to securing the team's first trip to the state championship game.

Carson McLaughlin, Kaden Ketchum, Bryant Marks and Evan Walker each drove in two runs to help Colony storm out to a 7-3 lead through three innings.

Credit the Eagle River Wolves for clawing back and pecking away at the lead, but the Knights sealed the deal with Ketchum collecting the saves with two innings of work.

Colony will play in Saturday's state title game at 3 o'clock against the winner of the late semifinal between South and Juneau-Douglas.

Ben Alley started and pitched five innings to earn the winning decision for the Knights (14-2). He fell behind 2-0 early but settled down to retire seven of ten over the second, third and fourth innings.

The Knights sent 10 men to the plate in the second inning, thanks to three hit by pitch, three walks and a single. It was kind of a theme of the night for the Knights, who banged out 10 hits, drew seven walks and got hit by pitch five times.

Ketchum's RBI single made it 7-3 in the third and McLaughlin's RBI single in the fourth made it 8-4.

Eagle River (11-5) scored in four of the seven innings, kickstarted by Josh Thompson's opposite-field double to give the Wolves a 2-0 lead in the first inning. 

Later, they pulled within 6-3 in the third and 7-4 in the fourth. Stefan Retzlaff and Noah Lower added RBIs and Gavin Henning went 3-for-3. Cam Witte finished 2-for-3 with a double and two runs.

Eagle River will play in Saturday's third-place game.

D2 Semifinals: Kodiak, Palmer to face off in title game

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 4, 2021

First-ever D2 state title game is set for 3 o'clock at Wasilla High School.

D2 State Tournament
Semifinals

Palmer 7, Soldotna 1
Landon Guggenmos racked up 13 strikeouts and went 2-for-2 with a triple to lead the Moose into their first state championship game.

Guggenmos carried a shutout into the fifth inning and went the distance, giving up six hits over seven innings of work.

He struck out the side in the second, third and fifth innings. He worked around a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the third with three straight Ks.

Palmer will face Kodiak in Saturday's state title game at 3 p.m. at Wasilla High School.

Dylan Garrettson and Landon Kitzman each had two RBIs for Palmer and Owen Hayes had a single RBI. Palmer got triples from Guggenmos, Kitzman and Chad Landon.

Soldotna's Daltyn Debroski went 2-for-4 with a double, triple and RBI. Josh Pieh started and Derrick Jones cleaned it up, throwing two scoreless frames of relief.

Soldotna will face North Pole in Saturday's third-place game.

Kodiak 4, North Pole 3

Nathan Baker's two-out single scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning that proved to be the difference for the Bears as they hung on to beat the Patriots and clinch a spot in Saturday's championship game.

Micah Arndt and Hunter Williams added RBI singles in the sixth as Kodiak erased a 2-0 deficit with a clutch four-run inning. 

Credit Jason Foxworthy and Jack Malloy for getting the party started as they both reached to kickstart the come-from-behind win, arguably the biggest in school history.

Arndt was real happy with the late-game rally given he was the starting pitcher. He went the full seven innings, giving up a half dozen hits and striking out a half dozen batters.

North Pole was looking to become the first Fairbanks baseball team to reach a state championship game since Lathrop in 2002.

The Patriots played well, taking a 2-0 lead in the third inning and scratching a run across in the seventh to make Kodiak sweat.

North Pole's Noah Perkins singled and later scored on an error and Alex Garcia singled in Logan Fischer to make it 2-0. Fischer also pitched a complete-game, taking a shutout into the sixth inning.

In the seventh, North Pole pulled within 4-3 on Connor Lanser's RBI single that scored Perkins.

D1 State: Sitka, Wasilla win, will face off for fourth place

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 4, 2021

D1 State Tournament
Friday's semifinals: Colony vs. Eagle River; South vs. Juneau-Douglas

Consolation Bracket
Wasilla 3, Dimond 0
Dayton Greer threw a 7-hit shutout, Will Plowman and Wyatt Walling had two-out RBIs, and Wasilla ended the game with a triple play in this elimination game at Mulcahy Stadium. 

Wasilla (17-6) exceled in all three facets of the game - pitching, hitting and fielding.

Greer got it done on the mound, needing just 81 pitches to rack up seven scorelss innings against one of the better hitting teams out of the Cook Inlet Conference.

He worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fifth inning and a runner-on-third, one-out jam in the sixth inning. Greer scattered seven hits and one walk while striking our four in picking up the win and helping extend his team's season.

Wasilla took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning after Byson Malave walked, moved to second on Andre Brown's sac bunt and scored on Plowman's two-out single.

In the sixth inning, Malave again played table setter after walking, going to second on a wild pitch and scoring on Wyatt's two-out base knock.

Wasilla parlayed another leadoff walk into a run in the seventh inning after Alex Bond drew a base on balls and came home on Pedro Camacho's safety squeeze bunt to make it 3-0.

Dimond's No. 9 hitter Alex Wright went 3-for-3 and its leadoff hitter Adam Boyce went 2-for-4.

The Lynx put on the first two batters in the seventh inning before Boyce's line-drive was snagged by Wasilla first baseman Walling, who stepped on first and fired to second base to complete a game-ending triple play.

Wasilla will play Sitka in Saturday's fourth-place game. 

Sitka 3, Chugiak 2
Trevin Carley's double off the left-field wall scored Emanuel Barragan-Wilhelm with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Wolves walked off on Chugiak to cap a late-game rally in an elimination game of the consolation bracket.

Sitka (14-7) scored all three runs across the sixth and seventh innings, with Carley's RBI sealing the deal. Barragan-Wilhelm walked with one out and came all the way home from first on Carley's extra-base hit, the only one of the game.

This was the first meeting between these two teams at the state tournament since 2009.

Sitka starter Nik Calhoun picked up the winning decision - but barely. Not barely in terms of his performance but barely in the sense that the 120-pitch count nearly forced him out. He had 119 before retiring the final batter of the seventh, then watched his team rally in the bottom half to stay alive in the tournament.

The game took about 90 minutes to play as starters Calhoun and Zach Cole of Chugiak kept the game moving, each taking a shutout into the fifth inning. Cole left the game in the sixth inning after 5.2 innings and a no decision.

Chugiak took a 1-0 lead after Andrew Grusynski scored from third on a wild pitch. Credit the run partially to the batter in the box, Camden Costantios, who eventually walked in a 10-pitch at-bat that forced Calhoun to keep throwing pitches.

The Mustangs (7-9) took a 2-0 lead on Hunter Rau's two-out RBI single. Sitka countered in the bottom of the sixth with their own two-out RBI by Samuel Johnson and balk plated the tying run.

Sitka will play Wasilla in Saturday's fourth-place game.

D2 State: Homer, Monroe Catholic stave off elimination

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 4, 2021

D2 State Tournament
Friday's semifinals: North Pole vs. Kodiak; Palmer vs. Soldotna

Consolation Bracket
Monroe Catholic 12, Grace Christian 8

Rams starter Gabriel Angaiak settled down nicely after a rough start and his offense gave him plenty of support with a 13-hit attack that resulted in an elimination game victory in the consolation round.

Angaiak, Joanthan Swank and Thomas Bast each had two hits, two runs and two RBIs. Aden Sadler and Shaun Conwell each had two hits and two runs.

Monroe Catholic twice scored four runs in a single frame, first in the first inning and again in the fourth inning.

Angaiak allowed six runs through the first two innings and just two across the final five innings, including shutout frames in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

Grace Christian's Jacob Hulst went Hulk and crushed a double and triple on his way to a 3-for-4 day with four RBIs.

Laddy Elliott, Brandon Plaster and Ian Banker also drove in runs for the Grizzlies.

Homer 3, Petersburg 2

Austin Ceccarelli dealt a 90-pitch complete game effort and Liam Houlihan drove in the winning run after converting a safety squeeze bunt in the top of the seventh inning to lift the Mariners to victory in an elimination game in the consolation bracket.

With the bases loaded and one out, Houlihan pushed a bunt to first base while Josiah Raymond sprinted home from third base to score the go-ahead run.

Homer used small ball to play another day in the big dance.

Ceccarelli, who suffered a tough loss yesterday in relief, bounced back with a huge performance as a starter to keep his team alive in the state tournament.

Ceccarelli and Petersburg starter Mattias Volk both went the distance in a game that took about 75 minutes to play. Volk had 12 strikeouts.

Petersburg took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning after playing a little small ball of their own. Lathum Johnson and Isaac Vincon hit consecutive singles and advanced on Hunter Conn's sac bunt, which set up Michael Durkin's two-run single that gave his team the lead.

D1 State: Colony, Eagle River, South, Juneau win Day 1

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 3, 2021

D1 State Tournament
First Round
 

Juneau-Douglas 3, Dimond 0

Garrett Bryant was as good as advertised for the Crimson Bears as the rocket right-hander racked up eight strikeouts in six shutout innings as the Crimson Bears marched into the semifinals for the second time in three years.

Bryant faced just one batter over the minimum through the first four innings after his catcher Brock McCormick erased a walk with a caught stealing and his infielders turned a 4-6-3 double play to erase a single in the fourth inning.

He ended the first, third and fifth innings with a strikeout and caught a liner to end the sixth inning with the bases loaded in his only real threat of the night.

Kai Schmidt closed it out with one inning of work for Juneau (14-2).

Schmidt, Olin Ransom and Porter Nelson each drove in runs. Rawson and Schmidt had run-scoring singles to highlight a two-run second inning.

In the fourth inning, Kaleb Campbell doubled and scored after No. 9 hitter delivered a Nelson's two-out base knock. 

Dimond managed just two hits, one by Miah Eneix and another by Garrett Lick. The Lynx did work the count for four walks and had two guys get hit, so they managed to put some pressure on Bryant.

Lick pitched an 8-strikeout, complete-game performance for the Lynx (12-3) in another great effort that was all for naught.

Only one of the three runs Lick gave up was earned as he retired 12 of the final 14 batters he faced.

South 10, Wasilla 0
Isaac Johnson pushed his personal scoreless streak to 21.1 innings with four shutout innings as the undefeated Wolverines banged out 12 hits and won in six innings, beating Wasilla for the third time this season.

The South starter threw just 52 pitches before he was taken out to keep him eligible to pitch again Saturday. Johnson improved to 5-0 on the season and lowered his ERA to 0.23 in 30 innings.

Johnson used a mid-80s fastball to attack hitters. The only baserunner he allowed was a two-out, 10-pitch walk to Nolan Murphy in the fourth inning.

Brothers Reece and Luke Ivanoff combined to throw the final two innings of relief, completing the team shutout.

South's potent first-inning attack continued as the Wolverines jumped out to a 2-0 lead just five batters into the game. Kellen Curtis walked, Curtis Hebert doubled, Dylan Maltby hit a sac fly, Oliver Brown was hit by a pitch and Lucas Wilkins singled. 

Just like that South was off to the races.

The Wolverines (15-0) added three more runs in the second inning kickstarted by consecutive singles from Andrew Buckendorf, Sean Giffen and Curtis to load the bases. From there, Hebert, Maltby and Brown picked up RBIs and it was 5-0.

South's Maddux Soland went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, giving him four doubles in his last 10 at-bats dating back to the CIC Tournament.

Wasilla's Pedro Camacho ripped a two-out double in the sixth inning to break up South's no-hit bid.

Camacho also threw out two base runners and relief pitcher Evan Dahlen picked off a runner as defense kept Wasilla (16-6) in the game.

In the fifth inning, Wasilla left fielder Will Plowman caught a deep flyball with his back against the wall to end the frame. For Brown, who crushed the ball, it was as close to hitting a home run without hitting a home run.

Eagle River 12, Sitka 1

Bottom-of-the-order guys Luke Barch, Connor Lanehart and Charlie Wallace stepped up in a big way, combining to go 5-for-10 with four RBIs and five runs as Eagle River won its first-ever game at the ASAA D1 state tournament in the battle of the Wolves.

Eagle River's opened in 2007 and made its first appearance at state in 2014, losing both games. This is indeed a new era of Eagle River baseball.

Cook Inlet Conference MVP Cam Witte had two RBIs and pitched 3.1 innings, working around three hits and five walks to surrender only one run.

Eagle River's defense turned two double plays, one to end the third inning for Witte and another to end the fourth inning for reliever Josh Thompson. Shortstop Noah Lower was in the middle of both twin killings for the Wolves of the CIC.

Eagle River (11-4) broke the game open with a five-run fourth inning, fueled by three singles, two walks and two hit batsmen. Lanehart's two-run single made it 4-0 and Wallace's RBI single made it 5-0.

With the win, Eagle River will advance to the semifinals.

Sitka catcher Bridger Bird was impressive. Not only did he get two hits, but he threw out two base runners in the second and fourth innings.

Dylan Marx earned his team's lone RBI with a bases-loaded walk, but even then a double play erased any hope of putting up a crooked number. It was that kind of day for the Wolves from the Southeast Conference.

Colony 6, Chugiak 2

Evan Walker pitched a 2-hitter and went the distance and the Knights put up crooked numbers in the second and third inning to win the first-round game of the ASAA Division I State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Walker also drove in the first two runs of the game in the second inning with a double, one of three extra-base hits in the game for the Mid-Alaska Conference champions.

With the win, Colony (13-2) advaced to the final four for the fourth time in nine years under coach Jordan Chadwell.

In the third inning, bash brothers Kaden Ketchum and Ben Alley ripped back-to-back extra-base hits over the center fielder's head. Ketchum hammered one far and Alley crushed one even farther on a bomb that would have been a home run in a lot of other ballparks in Alaska.

But Mulcahy is the big house, with the newly painted green center-field wall standing 410 feet away from home plate.

Ketchum and Alley scored two runs in the game and Bryant Marks had an RBI single.

Walker struck out seven batters in seven innings and didn't allow a base hit until a leadoff single in the fifth inning.

His pitching and hitting were exceptional, but his play of the game came on defense. In the third inning, he fielded a bunt and lost his balance turning to throw to first base, yet still got out the runner after throwing the ball from his backside.

Everything was working for Walker and the Knights.

Chugiak (7-8) finally got on the scoreboard in the sixth inning after Camden Costanios walked and Andrew Gruszynski got hit before Austin Bull smoked a two-run single to pull the Mustangs within 6-2.

This is the third time these two teams have met in the first round of the state tournament, with Colony winning 9-8 in 2018 and Chugiak winning 7-3 in 2009.

D2 State: Metz strikes out 17, but Kodiak wins by walkoff

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 3, 2021

Day 1 winners: Kodiak, North Pole, Soldotna and Palmer march into semifinals.

D2 State Tournament
First Round

Kodiak 3, Homer 2

Malakai Olson scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Bears walked off on Homer, which got an Alaska pitch-count era record 17 strikeouts from Harrison Metz.

Metz was not on the mound when the game ended, leaving after seven full frames and 118 pitches. The high school limit is 120.

Metz was marvelous when he was on the mound, breaking the pitch-count record of 16 strikeouts set in 2020 by West's Leland Wilson and tied this year by Bartlett's Carl Colavecchio. Pitch counts began in Alaska in 2017.

The right-handed used a wicked slider to keep Kodiak batters of balance. He struck out the first seven batters of the game before the first batter reached base on an error.

Metz struck out the side in the first, second, fifth innings and had two strikeouts in each of the other four innings.

The high school state strikeout record is 19, shared by Juneau's Chad Bentz (1999) and West Anchorage's Dalton Chapman (2014). In Legion, the state record is 21, set first by Kenai's Marshall Boze in 1988 and matched by East Anchorage's Anton Maxwell in 2004.

Metz had an RBI early as Homer built a 2-0 lead through five innings. In the sixth, Kodiak tied it with RBIs by Jace Crall and Nathan Baker.

In the eighth inning, Crall drew a one-out walk and moved to second on Hunter Williams' base hit. That's when Olson took on as the base runner for Crall. It was a good move as the quick Olson motored all the way from second base to score the winning run on an fielding error to sent the Bears to the semifinals.

North Pole 4, Petersburg 0

Connor Lanser threw a shutout with six strikeouts and Alex Garcia and Brayden Grorud each drove in two runs as the Patriots moved into the state semifinals with the first-round win at Wasilla High School.

Lanser scattered seven hits and four walks, dancing around trouble all day as Petersburg left nine runners on base.

Grorud's two-run single made it 2-0 in the third inning. Garcia's two-run inside-the-park home run made it 4-0 in the fourth inning.

Petersburg's Lathum Johnson pitched well over five innings, striking out nine batters and allowing only two earned runs.

Kieran Cabral tripled as one of seven hits for Petersburg.

Soldotna 8, Monroe Catholic 4

In a game that was tied 3-3 after five innings, the Stars pulled away with a five-run sixth inning to pull away and win the first-round game of the ASAA D2 State Tournament at Wasilla High School.

Levi Mickelson, Gavin Jones, Daltyn Debroski each had RBIs in the big fifth-inning rally that sent Soldotna to the semifinals.

Atticus Gibson drove in a run and pitched all seven innings, scattering seven hits and three walks while striking out a half dozen.

Debroski and Josh Pieh each went 2-for-3 and combined for three RBIs and three runs.

Monroe's Aden Salder twice doubled and scored three runs. Shaun Conwell Jr. and Gabriel Angaiak also had two RBIs apiece for the Rams.

Palmer 12, Grace Christian 1
Owen Hayes went 2-for-4 with a double, two runs and four RBIs as the Moose stormed out of the gate and cruised to a five-innning victory.

Hayes and Gabriel Jamie combined on a 3-hitter, with the lone run being unearned. Hayes racked up four strikeouts in three innings of work.

Jamie also had a nice day at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a run and two RBIs. Stuart McQuillin batted 2-for-3 with three runs and a pair of RBIs.

Palmer scored five runs in the second inning, three in the fourth inning and four in the fifth inning.

The Moose moved into the state semifinals.

Grace Christian's Jonny Earhart tripled and scored. Colton Reger and Brandon Plaster also had base hits.

Tournament of Champions: Past winners pack D1 bracket

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 2, 2021

Just call it the tournament of champions.

Six of the eight teams competing in this week’s ASAA Division I state baseball tournament have combined to win 17 of the 20 all-time state titles.

Southeast powers Juneau-Douglas and Sitka, along with Anchorage juggernaut South, have won 14 by themselves. The holy trinity of Alaska high school baseball is together at the state tournament for the first time since 2017.

The fabulous field also includes 2019 state champion Wasilla and Mid-Alaska Conference champion Colony. There is also Eagle River, Dimond and Chugiak from the Cook Inlet Conference.

“You can’t overlook anyone,” said Colony coach Jordan Chadwell.

It’s been hard to ignore the Knights, who are back at the state tournament for the seventh time in Chadwell’s nine seasons as head coach. The Knights advanced to the final four in 2013, 2014 and 2018, but are still looking for their first trip to the championship game.

Colony slugger Kaden Ketchum comes into the tournament with a state-best .682 batting average and 33 RBIs.

Hitting is crucial, but pitching is still king in a tournament where one loss can knock you out of the running for a state title.

Expect lots of aces to be dealt.

“You need to pitch your best guys,” Chadwell said, “and everyone on the team needs to play their best game. One bad game and you’re done.”

Juneau is back at state for a record 17th time. The Crimson Bears are the all-time leader in tournament wins with 27, four more than Sitka (23) and seven more than South (20).

The Crimson Bears are coached by Chad Bentz, who led Juneau to a state title in 2018. The stacked field doesn’t faze Bentz because he expects every elimination game at state to be a battle.

“The goal for the team is to play their game, and if they do that, I'm confident that they'll put themselves in a good opportunity to win the game,” Bentz said. “Does that always happen? No, but that's baseball and that's why it's the best sport out there.”

Juneau pitcher Garrett Bryant earlier this year struck out 15 batters in one game, the second highest total since 2017 when Alaska’s pitch count era began.

The Crimson Bears have other guys, too.

“Fortunately, we have a lot of pitching,” said Bentz, a former MLB pitcher with the Expos and Marlins. “With a single-elimination tournament, we have to put out our best every game. We would never expect to beat a team and not put out our best nine.”

The state tournament is loaded with an array of awesome arms.

South pitcher Isaac Johnson brings a 17.1-inning scoreless streak into the state tournament, and Dimond’s Garrett Lick just had his 18.2-inning scoreless streak snapped at the CIC Tournament. Chugiak’s Camden Costanios and Sitka’s Nik Calhoun each have an impressive strikeouts-per-inning ratio. Costanios has 37 Ks in 22.2 innings and Calhoun has 35 Ks in 26.1 innings.

In terms of hitting, the top batting averages belong to Ketchum (.682), Dimond's Zach Jenkins (.533), Colony's Brayden Parrent (.500), South's Oliver Brown (.475), Eagle River's Cam Witte (.471) and Wasilla’s Jacob Hansen (.444).

There isn’t a team from Fairbanks at the state tournament for the first time in two decades.

When ASAA split baseball into two divisions – D1 for large school and D2 for small schools – the qualifying format changed.

The two Mat-Su Valley schools combined with West Valley and Lathrop in Fairbanks in the Mid-Alaska Conference, which had two berths to state. The Cook Inlet Conference got three berths and the Southeast Conference got two berths.

An at-large berth was added for the first time, leaving the eighth spot in the hands of the ASAA selection committee. Chugiak won the at-large berth this year, giving the CIC a record four teams in the field.

Here is a closer look at each of the eight D1 teams chasing a state title:

Team: Chugiak Mustangs
League: Cook Inlet Conference
Head Coach: John Sims, 1st year
2021 Record: 7-7
Top Hitters: Hunter Rau (.314 AVG, 10 RBI), Zach Cole (.300 AVG, .467 SLG), Camden Costanios (.281 AVG, 18 SB)
Top Pitchers: Camden Costanios (22.2 IP, 37 K), Gabe Gruszynski (15.2 IP), Zach Cole (11.2 IP)
Famous Alum: Joey Clark – MLB draft pick in 1999 who pitched at Southern Idaho College and threw a no-hitter in high school.
All-Time State Titles: 1
All-Time State Record: 14-8

Team: Colony Knights
League: Mid-Alaska Conference
Head Coach: Jordan Chadwell, 9th year
2021 Record: 12-2
Top Hitters: Kaden Ketchum (.682 AVG, 33 RBI), Brayden Parrent (.500 AVG, 22 RBI), Ben Alley (.438 AVG, 13 RBI)
Top Pitchers: Ben Alley (19 IP, 31 K), Brayden Methven (14.2 IP, 17 K), Evan Walker (11.1 IP, 2.48 ERA)
Famous Alum: Ben Ross – Alaska’s No. 2 all-time college career home runs leader with 18 bombs at Corban University and Blue Mountain College from 2015 to 2019.
All-Time State Titles: 0
All-Time State Record: 9-18

Team: Dimond Lynx
League: Cook Inlet Conference
Head Coach: Jeremiah Eneix, 1st year
2021 Record: 12-2
Top Hitters: Zach Jenkins (.533 AVG, 21 R), Logan Sweet (.378 AVG, 15 RBI), Miah Eneix (.367 AVG, 11 RBI)
Top Pitchers: Garrett Lick (24 IP, 0.29 ERA), Luke Smith (18.1 IP, 1.52 ERA), Miah Eneix (14.1 IP, 25 K)
Famous Alum: Brian Montalbo – Highest MLB draft pick from Alaska as a fourth rounder in 2000 and former Pac-12 starter at the University of California-Berkeley.
All-Time State Titles: 1
All-Time State Record: 9-6

Team: Eagle River Wolves
League: Cook Inlet Conference
Head Coach: Bill Lierman, 1st year
2021 Record: 10-4
Top Hitters: Cam Witte (.471 AVG, 19 R), Gavin Henning (.424 AVG, 12 RBI), Josh Thompson (.321 AVG, 17 R)
Top Pitchers: Cam Witte (15 IP, 21 K), Noah Lower (14 IP, 2.14 ERA), Luke Barch (12 IP, 0.00 ERA)
Famous Alum: Michael Rosenberg – Former CIC Gold Glove winner who went on to play at the Coast Guard Academy.
All-Time State Titles: 0
All-Time State Record: 0-2

Team: Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears
League: Southeast Conference
Head Coach: Chad Bentz, 3rd year
2021 Record: 13-2
Top Hitters: Not Available
Top Pitchers: Garrett Bryant (15 Ks in one game)
Famous Alum: Chad Bentz – Seventh-round draft pick out of Long Beach State became Alaska’s second MLB player in 2004 and once struck out first-ballot Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.
All-Time State Titles: 6
All-Time State Record: 27-14

Team: Sitka Wolves
League: Southeast Conference

Head Coach: Kenny Carley, 3rd season
2021 Record: 13-6
Top Hitters: Eman Barragan (.383 AVG, 22 RBI), Bridger Bird (.351 AVG, 11 R), Trevin Carley (.340 AVG, 15 RBI)
Top Pitchers: Nik Calhoun (26.1 IP, 35 K), Eman Barragan (24 IP, 2.33 ERA), Grady Smith (18.1 IP, 1.52 ERA)
Famous Alum: Matt Way – Fourth-highest MLB draft pick from Alaska in 2009 and All-Pac-12 pitcher who still holds Washington State University’s single-season strikeout record.
All-Time State Titles: 5
All-Time State Record: 23-5

Team: South Wolverines
League: Cook Inlet Conference
Head Coach: Taylor Nerland, 6th year
2021 Record: 14-0
Top Hitters: Oliver Brown (.475 AVG, 19 RBI), Dylan Maltby (.438 AVG, 15 RBI), Lucas Wilkins (.407 AVG, 9 RBI)
Top Pitchers: Isaac Johnson (26 IP, 38 K), Ryan Watson (11 IP, 0.64 ERA), Reece Ivanoff (8.2 IP, 0.81 ERA)
Famous Alum: Jonny Homza – Second-highest MLB draft pick from Alaska who was moved from infield to catcher and currently plays for Class High-A Fort Wayne in the Padres organization.
All-Time State Titles: 3
All-Time State Record: 20-7

Team: Wasilla Warriors
League: Mid-Alaska Conference
Head Coach:Ken Ottinger, 6th year
2021 Record: 16-5
Top Hitters: Jacob Hansen (.444 AVG, 17 RBI), Andre Brown (.429 AVG, 26 R), Wyatt Walling (.316 AVG, 24 RBI)
Top Pitchers: Dayton Greer (24.1 IP, 26 K), Jacob Hansen (13.2 IP), Alex Prayner (12.1 IP, 20 K)
Famous Alum: Roy Friesen – MLB draft pick in 2003 out of Columbia Basin College. Played a season of rookie ball in the Marlins organization.
All-Time State Titles: 1
All-Time State Record: 12-5

Witte becomes first Eagle River player named CIC MVP

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 1, 2021

Witte and other individual award winners highlight the All-CIC Team as voted by the league's head coaches.

Cam Witte made Cook Inlet Conference history after becoming the first Eagle River player to win the Don Rabung MVP Award.

The senior catcher-pitcher combo was selected top player in a vote by the league’s eight head coaches, snapping South’s three-year stranglehold on the award.

Witte was wonderful in every way. He led the league with 23 total bases and 16 hits, ranked fourth with a .471 batting average and fifth with 10 RBIs. As a pitcher, he ranked tenth with 15 innings and 21 strikeouts, and 11th with a 3.00 ERA.

His versatility in the box, behind the plate and on the mound made him stand out. He was consistently steady.

Witte was the driving force behind an Eagle River team that advanced to the championship game of the CIC Tournament and earned the school’s first state berth since 2014.

All eight CIC teams have now had an MVP dating back to 1992. Eagle River joined the league in 2007.

The MVP award is named after Rabung, a longtime local sports supporter who was instrumental in getting baseball recognized as an official high school sport.

Dimond senior Garrett Lick won the Wade Blasingame Top Pitcher Award. The rocket right-hander went 2-1 with a 0.67 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 21 innings. He had his 18.2-inning scoreless streak snapped in the CIC Tournament.

The top pitcher honor is relatively new, but already the list of winners is super impressive: Parker Johnson, Leland Wilson and Brody Jessee. And now Lick, who has been sharp as a tack.

The award is named after Blasingame, who has left an indelible mark on youth baseball in Alaska through his undying commitment, networking and support over two decades.

The Big Stick Award went to Service’s Coen Niclai. The freshman catcher led the league with a .519 batting average and 13 RBIs. He had a tournament record 5 RBIs in Service's only win during the CIC Tournament.

Niclai is the fourth Service player to win Big Stick, the first since Stephen Ferntheil in 2009.

Bartlett senior Blake Bacho won the Gold Glove Award. He had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage on 22 defensive chances at shortstop and pitcher.

Bacho picked up the sixth Gold Glove Award in Bartlett school history, the first since Nick Ridley in 2003.

CIC champion South had a league-high nine players voted to the all-conference team in pitchers Isaac Johnson (1st), Ryan Watson (2nd), catcher Dylan Maltby (2nd), second baseman Sean Giffen (2nd), shortstop Oliver Brown (1st), outfielders Lucas Wilkins (2nd) and Andrew Buckendorf (HM), utility player Kellen Curtis (1st) and DH Thomas Pease (1st).

Don Rabung MVP Award
Cam Witte  Eagle River
.471AVG, 23TB, 10RBI, 2-1W/L 3.00ERA 21K 15IP

Wade Blasingame Top Pitcher Award 
Garrett Lick   Dimond
2-1W/L 0.67ERA 36K 21IP 18.2-inning scoreless streak

Big Stick Award
Coen Niclai  Service
.519AVG, 13RBI, 19 TB, .704SLG

Gold Glove Award
Blake Bacho  Bartlett
1.000FLD on 22 defensive chances at shortstop and pitcher

ALL-CIC FIRST TEAM
Pitcher

Luke Barch ER
Carl Colavecchio BAR
Camden Costanios CHU
Isaac Johnson SOU
Garrett Lick DIM
Luke Smith DIM
Hutton Stiles SER
Cam Witte ER
Ryan Watson SOU

Catcher
Coen Niclai SER
Logan Sweet DIM

First Base
Miah Eneix DIM
Stefan Retzlaff ER

Second Base
Owen Hickman SER

Third Base
Luke Smith DIM

Shortstop
Oliver Brown SOU

Outfield
Carl Colavecchio BAR
Camden Costanios CHU
Zach Jenkins DIM

Utility
Kellen Curtis SOU
Cam Witte ER

Designated Hitter
Thomas Pease SOU

ALL-CIC SECOND TEAM
Pitcher

Blake Bacho BAR
Zack Banhart EAST
Alex Buce DIM
Liam Gunn WEST
Andrew Hickman SER
Noah Lower ER
Josh Thompson ER
Michael Tillman WEST

Catcher
Dylan Maltby SOU

Second Base
Sean Giffen SOU

Third Base
Michael Halpern WEST 

Shortstop
Noah Lower ER

Outfield
Gavin Henning ER
Josh Thompson ER
Lucas Wilkins SOU

ALL-CIC HONORABLE MENTION
Catcher
Hunter Rau CHU

First Base
Austin Bull CHU

Second Base
Joe Moriarty DIM

Shortstop
Blake Bacho BAR
Zack Barnhart EAST
Alex Bruce DIM
Orion Haliburton WEST

Outfield
Ja’Sem Atonio EAST
Adam Boyce DIM
Andrew Buckdenforf SOU
Cyrus Clendaniel WEST
Daniel Mokom EAST

Utility
John Grantier BAR 

2021 CIC Leaders
*Stats based on CIC league and tournament games only
 
Batting Average 
(min 18 PA) 
.519 Coen Niclai SER (14-27)
.500 Zach Jenkins DIM (11-22)
.476 Oliver Brown SOU (10-21)
.471 Cam Witte ER (16-34)
.471 Alan Contreras EAST (8-17)
.444 Kellen Curtis SOU (12-27)
.440 Lucas Wilkins SOU (11-25)
.424 Gavin Henning ER (14-33)
.400 Daniel Mokom EAST (6-15)
.353 Shane Stephan DIM (6-17)
.348 Miah Eneix DIM (8-23)
.333 Adam Boyce DIM (9-27)
.321 Josh Thompson ER (9-28)
.316 Blake Bacho BAR (6-19)
.316 Garrett Lick DIM (6-19)
.310 Logan Sweet DIM (9-29)
.304 Cyrus Clendaniel WEST (6-23)
.303 Noah Lower ER (10-33)
 
Hits
16 Cam Witte ER
14 Gavin Henning ER
14 Coen Niclai SER
12 Kellen Curtis SOU
11 Zach Jenkins DIM
11 Lucas Wilkins SOU
10 Oliver Brown SOU
10 Noah Lower ER
10 Stefan Retzlaff ER
9 Adam Boyce DIM
9 Logan Sweet DIM
9 Josh Thompson ER
 
Total Bases
23 Cam Witte ER
19 Coen Niclai SER
18 Zach Jenkins DIM
17 Gavin Henning ER
17 Lucas Wilkins SOU
15 Kellen Curtis SOU
14 Oliver Brown SOU
13 Logan Sweet DIM
13 Josh Thompson ER
12 Austin Bull CHU
 
RBIs
13 Coen Niclai SER
12 Oliver Brown SOU
12 Gavin Henning ER
11 Noah Lower ER
10 Cam Witte ER
9 Lucas Wilkins SOU
8 Austin Bull CHU
8 Miah Eneix DIM
8 Josh Thompson ER
8 Stefan Retzlaff ER
 
Home Runs
1 Austin Bull CHU
1 Hutton Stiles SER
1 Josh Thompson ER
1 Cam Witte ER
 
Runs
19 Cam Witte ER
17 Josh Thompson ER
14 Zach Jenkins DIM
13 Stefan Retzlaff ER
12 Adam Boyce DIM
11 Oliver Brown SOU
11 Camden Costanios CHU
11 Kellen Curtis SOU
9 Andrew Buckendorf SOU
8 Coen Niclai SER
8 Orion Haliburton WEST
8 Noah Lower ER
8 Hutton Stiles SER
8 Charlie Wallace ER
 
Stolen Bases
16 Camden Costanios CHU
12 Zach Jenkins DIM
9 Blake Bacho BAR
9 Oliver Brown SOU
8 Zack Barnhart EAST
8 Adam Boyce DIM
8 Stefan Retzlaff ER
6 Daniel Mokom EAST
6 Coen Niclai SER
 
Innings
22.2 Camden Costanios CHU
22.0 Isaac Johnson SOU
21.0 Blake Bacho BAR
21.0 Garrett Lick DIM
19.2 Michael Tillman WEST
16.2 Liam Gunn WEST
16.1 Luke Smith DIM
16.0 Andrew Hickman SER
15.1 Athena Clendanial WEST
15.0 Cam Witte ER
13.2 Carl Colavecchio BAR
13.2 John Gantier BAR
 
Wins
3 Noah Lower ER
3 Isaac Johnson SOU
 
Saves
2 Preston Rau CHU
1 Alex Bruce DIM
1 Miah Eneix DIM
1 Curtis Hebert SOU
1 Reece Ivanoff SOU
1 Noah Lower ER
1 Josh Thompson ER
 
ERA 
(min 7 IP)
0.00 Luke Barch ER (12IP)
0.34 Isaac Johnson SOU (22IP)
0.67 Garrett Lick DIM (21IP)
0.77 Ryan Watson SOU (10IP)
1.00 Reece Ivanoff SOU (7.2IP)
1.84 Luke Smith DIM (16.1IP)
1.91 A. Gruszynski CHU (7.1IP)
2.14 Noah Lower ER (14IP)
2.15 Hutton Stiles SER (13IP)
2.61 Cam Costanios CHU (22.2IP)
3.00 Cam Witte ER (15IP)
3.24 Andrew Hickman SER (13IP)
 
Strikeouts
37 Camden Costanios CHU
36 Garrett Lick DIM
32 Isaac Johnson SOU
29 Carl Colavecchio BAR
27 Blake Bacho BAR
27 Luke Smith DIM
25 Michael Tillman WEST
21 Luke Barch ER
21 Ryan Watson SOU
21 Cam Witte ER
 
Assists
22 Noah Lower ER
22 Owen Hickman SER
19 Coen Niclai SER
18 Orion Haliburton WEST
17 Jake Rafferty SER
14 Hunter Christian SER
13 Zach Cole CHU
13 Sean Giffen SOU
13 Preston Rau CHU
13 Jayden Steckel CHU
 
Caught Stealing
8 Coen Niclai SER
5 Eli Corwin BAR
5 Dylan Maltby SOU
3 Evan Fitzgerald WEST
3 Logan Sweet DIM
2 Hunter Rau CHU
1 Andrew Gruszynski CHU
1 Cam Witte ER
 
Pickoffs
2 Coen Niclai SER
1 Nine tied

Ketchikan trio finishes strong for Clackamas College

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 29, 2021

Three freshmen from Ketchikan are making sure the Clackamas College baseball team finishes the season on a high note.

In the span of three days, Wyatt Barajas pitched his first college shutout, Liam Kiffer had two hits and two RBIs in a game for the second time, and Cody Kimble came out of the bullpen to throw one of his best efforts of the year.

In high school and Legion, they formed one of the state’s most formidable trios. Now they have teamed up in the NWAC.

 

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Barajas spun a 4-hit complete-game masterpiece to shut out a 20-win Mt. Hood team 4-0.

The 6-foot-2 right-hander issued three walks, struck out two batters and retired 10 straight across the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings. He threw 101 pitches in seven innings, 59 for strikes.

This was the first win for Barajas, who posted 21 strikeouts in 29.1 innings over nine appearances. He also had two saves.

Barajas is one of two Clackamas pitchers to have a save and complete game this season.

The other one is Kimble. Both Alaskans rank among the top four in innings, with Kimble second (33.2) and Barajas fourth.

Kimble closed out a 9-7 loss to Southwestern Oregon with four shutout frames in his five innings of work. He allowed three hits and two runs while striking out three. He kept the game close to give his team a chance to come back.

His game ERA of 3.60 ranks only behind his 2.08 effort in 4.1 innings against Linn-Benton.

In the same game, Kiffer started in left field and batted 2-for-4 with a walk, run and two RBIs. This was his best game since going 3-for-4 with two RBIs against Umpqua.

He has seven RBIs in 16 games and has drawn nearly as many walks (11) as he has strikeouts (12). Kiffer ranks fourth on the team with a .391 on-base percentage.

Ten players selected to CIC All-Tournament Team

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 27, 2021

CIC All-Tournament Team

Blake Bacho BARTLETT
Struck out a tournament record 13 batters in 7.1 innings of relief in the first round.

Oliver Brown SOUTH
Drove in four RBIs, including three in the semifinals, and scored a run in both tournament games.

Alex Bruce DIMOND
Hit .400 with three RBIs and was only the Dimond player to have an RBI in each of the team's two tournament games.

Camden Costanios CHUGIAK
He was the winning pitcher in the second round, stole six bases in the tournament and hit the left-field wall on a double.

Isaac Johnson SOUTH
Pitched a 3-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts in a masterpiece for the Wolverines in the tournament championship game.

Noah Lower EAGLE RIVER
Batted .400 and scored four runs in addition to throwing 5.1 innings in a semifinal winning decision.

Dylan Maltby SOUTH
Furnished .500 on-base percentage and showcased his cannon of an arm behind the plate by gunning down base runners in both tournament games.

Coen Niclai SERVICE
Hit .714 in two games and had a tournament record five RBIs in a first-round win in addition to throwing out a pair of base runners.

Luke Smith DIMOND
Struck out seven batters over five innings to pick up a winning decision in the third-place game and had base hits in both of his tournament games.

Cam Witte EAGLE RIVER
Batted .455 and carried his team in the title game with two of its three hits and pitching three of six innings.
 

CIC Title Game: South's Johnson throws 3-hit shutout

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 27, 2021

South 7, Eagle River 0

South starter Isaac Johnson threw a 3-hit masterpiece on a night when the Wolverines made history by winning the inaugural CIC Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Leadoff hitter Kellen Curtis had two RBIs and second baseman Sean Giffen had one RBI and five assists in support of Johnson’s sizzling shutout as South extended its 14-game winning streak with a 7-0 victory in the tournament championship game.

Johnson racked up 10 strikeouts and retired 11 straight batters over the second, third, fourth innings. When he did give up a base hit to lead off the fifth, his battery mate Dylan Maltby erased him with a caught stealing.

It was that kind of night.

Johnson allowed just three hits – two of them to Cam Witte on an infield single to lead off the game and then a double to lead off the sixth inning. Witte finished 2-for-3 while the rest of his team was 1-for-20 against the 6-foot-3 right-hander from South.

Johnson will take his 17.1-inning scoreless streak into next week’s ASAA State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

South (14-0) has been a fast starter all season, averaging 3.4 runs in the first inning across eight CIC games. But credit Witte for keeping a clean sheet against the Wolverines in the first inning, only the second time South hasn’t scored in the opening frame.

It wouldn’t last.

Giffen’s RBI single made it 1-0 in the second inning and Curtis ripped a two-run single to make it 3-0. South added to its total in the third inning to take a 5-0 lead.

The third inning was a nightmare defensively for Eagle River as errors and mental miscues forced Witte to record four outs to get out of the frame on three strikeouts and a groundout.

South tacked on another run on Oliver Brown’s RBI single in the fourth inning and Joey Serra doubled and scored the final run in the fifth inning.

Eagle River (10-4) had already punched its ticket to the state tournament by virtue of its semifinal win last night against Dimond. 

Witte pitched the first three innings and got little help behind him as all five runs he gave up were unearned. Josh Thompson closed it out with three innings of relief, wiggling out of a two-on, no-out jam in the seventh inning.

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CIC Third-Place: Dimond clinches 1st state berth since '11

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 27, 2021

Dimond 4, Chugiak 3

Adam Boyce's two-out RBI single in the fourth inning proved to be the difference for Dimond, which hung on for a 4-3 win over Chugiak in the CIC Tournament third-place game at Mulcahy Stadium.

With the win, the Lynx earned an automatic berth to the ASAA State Tournament. This will be Dimond's first trip to state since 2011. Chugiak has to hope for an at-large berth.

Second-seeded Dimond (12-2) took an early 3-0 lead in the first inning keyed by Alex Bruce's two-run single. Boyce's RBI made it 4-1 in the fourth inning as the Lynx looked like they would cruise behind starter Luke Smith.

Smith didn't allow a runner on base until the third inning when Preston Rau singled and later sored Andrew Gruszynski's RBI single. Smith had six strikeouts through four innings.

Fourth-seeded Chugiak (7-7) finally got to Smith in the fifth inning for a pair of runs after pinch-hitter Landon Luebke walked and scored on a ringing double from Camden Costanios, who smashed a shot off the left-field wall.

Costanios, one of the most dynamic players in the CIC, scored on a wild play. As he was stealing third base the pitcher threw a wild pitch and Costanios never broke stride in rounding third and racing home, just beating the throw with a head-first slide.

Credit Smith for getting out of the fifth inning without further damage before being replaced my southpaw Miah Eneix, who struck out three batters and collected a six-out save.

Chugiak starter Zach Cole settled down after a rough start to go the distance, turning away the Lynx 1-2-3 in the second, fifth and seventh innings.

Cole picked off a base runner at first base in the fourth inning and his batter mate, catcher Hunter Rau, threw out a base runner in the third inning.

The only bummer for Dimond was seeing all-star Zach Jenkins leave the game with an apparent hand injury after sliding into third base in the third inning. He went to his position to start the fourth inning but quickly came off the field.

The ASAA State Tournament is June 3-5 at Mulcahy Stadium

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CIC Semifinal: Quick start sparks South's 13th straight W

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 26, 2021

South 8, Chugiak 2

Dylan Maltby's hitting, base running and defense highlighted top-ranked South's 8-2 win over the 4th-seeded Mustangs in the semifinals of the CIC Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Maltby drove in the first run of the game, threw out a base runner and showed off his quick feet in first and fourth innings when the Wolverines broke the game open.

South (13-0) stayed undefeated en route to advancing to Thursday's CIC championship game and clinching a state tournament berth for the first time since 2018.

South will play No. 3 seed Eagle River (10-3) for the CIC pennant at 6:45 p.m. at the Stadium. Chugiak will face No. 2 Dimond (11-3) in Thursday's third-place game at 4:15 p.m. at Mulcahy.

Oliver Brown had three RBIs, Maltby had two RBIs, Maddux Soland hit two doubles and had one RBI. Kellen Curtis, Curtis Hebert and Brown each scored twice and Lucas Wilkins went 2-for-4.

Maltby singled up the middle in the first inning, but it was basically a triple because he never broke stride after reading the throw home to coast into second base and then seeing the ball get away from the catcher to cruise into third base. He was home by the next batter as South scored four times in the first inning.

In the fourth inning, Maltby’s sac bunt with runners on first and second base led to another run and a 5-2 South lead. He spun away from the tag attempt from the Chugiak first baseman, which forced the first baseman to throw to the second baseman covering the bag. Curtis, who started the play on second base, broke for home once the first baseman turned his back.

This playoff game also brought out the best in Reece Ivanoff and Maddux Soland.

Soland doubled in back-to-back at-bats in the first and third innings. He had zero doubles in 14 plate appearances during CIC play.

Ivanoff scattered one hit and five walks over four innings. He struck out four batters, including Ks to end the second, third and fourth innings.

The 6-foot-4 right-hander pitched more games tonight (4) then he did in all of CIC play (3.2).

Hebert closed it out with a three-inning save, racking up seven strikeouts.

Chugiak (7-6) pulled within 4-2 in the fourth inning after Zach Cole scored. Cole singled in the first inning and scored a run.

Camden Costanios manufactured a run for his team in the third inningafter drawing a walk, stealing second base and going to third base on a wild pitch. He scored on Andrew Gruszynski’s groundball. In the fourth inning, Cole was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame and scored on a throwing error.

CIC Semifinal: Eagle River survives and advances to final

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 26, 2021

Eagle River 5, Dimond 2

It wasn't always pretty, but the 3rd-seeded Wolves survived and advanced with a 5-2 win over the 2nd-seeded Lynx in the semifinals of the CIC Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Eagle River overcame a half dozen errors thanks to pinpoint pitching of Noah Lower and Josh Thompson. Lower started and picked up the winning decision after allowing just two runs (one earned) in 5.1 innings. Thompson picked up a five-out save.

With the win, the Wolves punched their ticket to Thursday's CIC championship game and earned on of the league's three automatic berths to next week's state tournament. Eagle River last qualified for state in 2014.

In the fourth inning, Eagle River (10-3) scratched a run against dominating Dimond starter Garrett Lick to tie the game at 1-1. Josh Thompson led off the fourth with a single and later scored on Connor Johnson's RBI single, snapping Lick's scoreless streak of 18.2 innings.

In the fifth inning, Eagle River loaded the bases after Cam Witte walked, Lower singled and Thompson walked. All three scored after back-to-back fielding errors by the usually sure-handed Lynx, who came into the game ranked No. 2 in the CIC in team fielding percentage.

Dimond's Alex Bruce came to play. He scored his team's first run in the sescond inning and he drove in his team's second run with a sac fly in the sixth inning.

But he wasn't finished. Bruce also pitched 1.2 innings and registered back-to-back strikeouts with the bases loaded to get out of the seventh inning.

Lick deserved better. The rocket right-hander struck out seven batters in five innings. He scattered two hits and five walks, but only one of his four runs was earned.

Lick leapfrogged Chugiak's Camden Costanios for the CIC strikeout lead with 36, two more than the Chugiak ace. South's Isaac Johnson is fifth with 22 and he will pitch later.

The CIC title game is at 6:45 p.m. at the Stadium between Eagle River and the winner of the late semifinal between No. 1 South and No. 4 Chugiak.

Dimond (11-2) will play in Thursday's CIC third-place game against the South/Chugiak loser at 4:15 p.m. at Mulcahy.

CIC Tournament: Chugiak, Eagle River reach Final Four

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 25, 2021

Chugiak 3, Service 1
Camden Costanios and Preston Rau combined to beat the Cougars for the second time in 14 days, this time pitching a 3-hitter in a second-round elimination game in the CIC Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Jayden Steckel registered his team's only hit with an RBI double in the fourth inning to give 4th-seeded Chugiak a 2-1. Steckel would later score on a wild pitch to make it 3-1.

With the win, the Mustangs (7-5) advanced to the CIC semifinals against No. 1 South on Wednesday at 6:45 p.m. at the Stadium.

Costanios fell behind early but then stepped up and retired 10 straight over the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. He finished with nine strikeouts to give him a league-leading 34 Ks on the season while lowering his ERA to 2.58 over his last 21.2 innings.

Rau worked around an error and a walk to strike out the side and earn his second save of CIC play.

No. 5 Service (5-9) took a 1-0 in the first inning on Jake Rafferty's two-out RBI single and had its ace on the hill in Hutton Stiles, who pitched a solid in allowing just two earned runs over four innings of work.

But the Cougars couldn't get the big hit down the stretch, getting two runners on base in second, third, sixth and seventh innings and not scoring a single run.

Andrew Hickman pitched two scoreless frames, getting a double play to end the fifth inning when a runner was called for leaving too early on a sac fly.

Service slugger Coen Niclai stayed hot. He went 2-for-3 with a double, run and walk. He also threw out his league-best 10th base runner trying to steal second base. He finished the season with a .519 batting average on 14-of-27 hitting.

Eagle River 15, West 0
Cam Witte, Stefan Retzlaff and Noah Lower did much of the heavy lifting for the 3rd-seeded Wolves, who banged out 14 hits and cruised to a five-inning win in the elimination game in the second round of the CIC Tournament At Mulcahy Stadium.

Witte was 3-for-4 with an RBI, Retzlaff was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Noah Lower went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs against the No. 7 Eagles.

Witte hits leadoff, Retzlaff hits second and Lower third in the batting order. In the bottom of the first inning, Witte doubled and scored on a single by Retzlaff, who scored on a sac fly by Lower and just like that it was 2-0.

With the win, Eagle River (9-3) moved into the tournament semifinals and will face No. 2 Dimond on Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. at the Stadium.

Jack Malloy had a base hit, drove in two runs, scored two runs and pitched two innings.

Malloy and starter Garren Henning did not give up a hit in five innings of work.

West, which won a 12-inning thriller over Bartlett in the first round, had a few shining moments.

Starting pitcher Athena Clendaniel twice got out of bases-loaded jams in the first and third inning. The Eagles (2-11) also drew five walks and had one batter hit by pitch in their final game of the season.

CIC Tournament: West rallies in extras, Service wins big

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 24, 2021

Day 1 Scores: West 9, Bartlett 2; Service 15, East 5

West 9, Bartlett 2 (12 innings)

The 7th-seeded Eagles scored seven runs in the top of the 12th inning to beat the No. 6 Golden Bears and win the first game in the inaugural CIC Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

The game was tied from the fifth inning through the 11th inning as both teams brought the playoff atmosphere. The big-moment stakes of the elimination game brought out the best in both teams as West and Bartlett looked their best they have all season.

West pulled away in the 12th inning after star reliever Blake Bacho left. Bacho pitched 7.1 innings of sparkling relief with 13 strikeouts. At one stretch he retired 15 of 16 batters.

West starter Michael Tillman struck out 11 batters over seven innings of work. He twice worked out of bases-loaded jams in the third and fifth innings. Liam Gunn picked up the winning decision with five inning of shutout relief.

With the win, the Eagles (2-11) advanced to Tuesday's second round to face No. 3 Eagle River (8-3).

West's Michael Halpern had four RBIs, Cyrus Clendaniel went 3-for-6 with an RBI and two runs.

Bartlett's John Grantier pitched 3.1 scoreless innings and made several nifty plays at shortstop. Carl Colavecchio went 2-for-5 with a triple and run scored. Bacho, in addition to his brilliant pitching, went 2-for-5 with a run scored.

Bartlett finished the season with a 5-8 record, the team's most wins since 2015.

Service 15, East 5

Coen Niclai went 3-for-4 with five RBIs, including a two-run single that ended the game after six innings, as the 5th-seeded Cougars scored early and often en route to winning the elimination game in the first round of the CIC Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Owen Hickman had three RBIs, Hunter Christian scored four runs and the bottom of the lineup (Andrew Hickman, Simon Kouloo, Nick Coates) combined to go 5-for-10 and score seven runs.

Service (5-8) advanced to play in the second round of the CIC Tournament on Tuesday against No. 4 Chugiak (6-5).

Coen had a two-run single in the second inning, an RBI single in the fourth inning and a two-run single in the sixth inning. The catcher also threw out his ninth base runner.

With his five RBIs, Coen leapfrogged Eagle River's Gavin Henning for the league lead with 13 RBIs. Henning is second with 11.

East (2-11) came to play right out of the gate and pulled within 3-2 and 5-4 before things got out of hand.

Six different T-birds got base hits, led by Alan Contreas, who went 2-for-3 to give him a team-leading .471 batting average on the CIC season.

Bryce Erickson went 2-for-2 with a triple, two runs and an RBI. He also pitched two innings. Ashton Volkman and Andrew Malone also had RBIs for East.

Gatter hits homer, bags 4 RBIs for Skagit Valley College

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 23, 2021

Not even a two-week break could cool down Anchorage’s Ricky Gatter.

The Skagit Valley College freshman went 3-for-4 agianst Olympic to lift his batting average to a season-high .316 in 11 games this season.

The starting shortstop singled in the first inning, homered in the third, hit a sac fly in the sixth and singled in the ninth in a 9-3 win in the second game of a doublehealder in the NWAC.

The homer was a three-run shot and the first of his college career.

Gatter is batting .526 over on 10-of-19 hitting during a five-game hitting streak.

He has driven in six RBIs, scored five runs and banged out two extra-base hits during this current streak.

The former South Wolverines player ranks fourth on Skagit Valley with 12 hits despite being tenth in at-bats.

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Saturday in the CIC: Eagle River, Chugiak grab 3,4 seeds

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 22, 2021

Dimond 17, East 1; Eagle River 17, Service 0; Chugiak 18, West 1; South 14, Bartlett 0

Dimond 17, East 1

All nine starters got base hits as the Lynx won going away in the Cook Inlet Conference league game at Mulcahy Stadium.

Zach Jenkins went 2-for-2 with a double, three RBIs and three runs to highlight the 12-hit attack for the Lynx (11-1, 6-1 CIC).

Miah Eneix went 2-for-2 with two RBIs and four runs, and Logan Sweet went 2-for-3 with his league-best fifth double in CIC play.

Dimond starting pitcher Luke Smith pitched all five innings, allowing just two hits while striking out nine.

East's Ja'Sem Atonio an Zack Barnhart each had base hits and stolen bases. Barnhart scored his team's lone run on the back end of a double steal for the T-birds (2-9, 1-6 CIC).

Eagle River 17, Service 0

Luke Barch struck out 10 batters over six innings and the Wolves banged out 15 hits in a Cook Inlet Conference at Mulcahy Stadium.

Barch was also one of four Eagle River players with two RBIs. Landon Hudson drove in three while Stefan Retzlaff, Noah Lower and Barch each had two.

Gavin Henning went 3-for-4 with two runs and a RBI.

With the win Eagle River (8-3, 5-2 CIC) clinched the No. 3 seed a first-round bye in next week's CIC Tournament.

Service's Coen Niclai, Owen Hickman and James Ivey delivered base hits for the Cougars (4-8, 3-4 CIC).

Chugiak 18, West 1

Austin Bull and Hunter Rau drove in three runs apiece and Camden Costanios scored four runs as the Mustangs won the Cook Inlet Conference league game in five innings at Mulcahy Stadium.

Costanios doubled, drew three walks, stole three bases and drove in a pair of runs. He also struck out the side in his only inning of work on the mound.

Rau went 3-for-4, and Bull and Zachary Cole went 2-for-3. Ozzy Rivera also had two RBIs.

With the win, Chugiak (6-5, 3-4 CIC) secured the No. 4 seed at next week's CIC Tournament. Chugiak and Service finished the regular season with the same record, but the Mustangs beat Service 6-1 during league play to give Chugiak the tiebreaker.

West's Cyrus Clendaniel went 2-for-3, Athena Clendaniel drove in the lone West run and Orion Haliburton was 1-for-3 with a run for the Eagles (1-11, 1-6 CIC).

South 14, Bartlett 0

Lucas Wilkins went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and four RBIs and Ryan Watson struck out 10 batters in five innings as the Wolverines won the Cook Inlet Conference league game at Mulcahy Stadium.

Kellen Curtis went 3-for-4 with three runs and a RBI, and Andrew Buckendorf was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs.

Together, they spearheaded South's four-run first inning. That's been the team's bread and butter this season as the Wolverines are averaging 3.3 runs in the first inning in CIC play.

Watson allowed only one hit and one walk and got a double play behind him.

South (12-0, 7-0 CIC) extended its winning streak to a dozen and will be the No. 1 seed at next week's CIC Tournament.

Bartlett's Blake Bacho went 1-for-2 at the plate and pitched 1.1 innings on the mound.

John Grantier pitched strong in relief, allowing just one run over two innings against the league's top-hitting squad.

The Golden Bears (5-6, 2-5) will be the No. 6 seed at the CIC Tournament.

Friday in the CIC: Dimond locks up tournament 2 seed

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 21, 2021

Dimond 7, Eagle River 6; Service 5, Bartlett 4; Chugiak 16, East 4

Dimond 7, Eagle River 6
In an extra-inning game that took two days to play, Alex Bruce escaped a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout to seal the deal in a thrilling Cook Inlet Conference league win at Mulcahy Stadium.

The game started Thursday night and resumed Friday afternoon after a 17-hour delay because of sprinklers that turned on and wouldn’t turn off. Dimond led 5-4 in the ninth inning and had the bases loaded with nobody down when the game was suspended.

Credit both teams for bringing the playoff intensity back the next day to finish a game that determined the No. 2 seed for the upcoming CIC Tournament.

The Lynx got it done, but barely.

Both parts of the game were terrific – the first three hours and the final 20 minutes. It had a playoff feel with both teams coming up with big plays.

In the third inning, Gavin Henning ripped a two-run double to give Eagle River a 4-2 lead.

In the fifth inning, Zach Jenkins smashed a two-run double to tie the game 4-4. 

Dimond reliever Garrett Lick pitched five shutout innings to extend his scoreless streak to 15.1 innings. He hasn’t given up an earned run since the first inning of the first game three weeks ago.

Lick lowered his ERA to 0.43 in 16 innings across three CIC league games for the Lynx (10-1, 5-1 CIC).

Logan Smith, Miah Eneix and Luke Smith each had RBI singles in the ninth inning to help Dimond push its lead to 7-4.

Eagle River (7-3, 4-2 CIC) got RBIs from Garren Henning and Cam Witte in the bottom of the ninth inning and had the tying run on third base.

Service 5, Bartlett 4
Defensive stars Coen Niclai and Owen Hickman teamed up to deliver the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Cougars walked off with a Cook Inlet Conference league game at Mulcahy Stadium.

Niclai singled, stole second base and scored on Hickman's two-out RBI single down the third-base line as the Cougars continue to climb the league standings.

Niclai, the catcher, threw out four base runners to give him a combined nine caught stealing or pickoffs in six CIC league games. He finished 3-for-4 at the plate with a double, triple and two RBIs.

Hickman, the shortstop, was in the middle of three double plays for the Cougars (4-7, 3-3 CIC).

Service relief pitcher Hunter Christian picked up the win with two solid innings of work, including cleaning up a bases-loaded, no-out mess in the sixth inning.

The best Bartlett team in six years battled back from a 4-0 deficit over the final two innings.

In the top of the seventh, John Grantier smashed a one-out triple and scored on John Brandal's clutch single past a drawn-in infield to tie the game at 4-4.

Brandal finished 3-for-4 and joined Kevin Tapia as the only two players to drive in a run for the Golden Bears (5-6, 2-4 CIC).

Bartlett starter Carl Colavecchio struck out nine batters over 4.2 innings and Blake Bacho was solid again with two innings of relief.

Chugiak 16, East 4
Preston Rau had four RBIs, Zach Cole drove in three runs as the Mustangs ran wild on the base paths in a Cook Inlet Conference league game at Mulcahy Stadium.

Cole's two-run double gave Chugiak the lead for good at 4-2 in the second inning. Rau's two-out, two-run single in the fourth inning pushed the lead to 8-2.

Chugiak (5-5, 2-4 CIC) scored in each of the six innings of the game, putting up crooked numbers in five of them.

Austin Bull went 2-for-4 with a double, RBI and three runs, Andrew Gruszynski scored three runs, Seth Strange smacked a triple and Hunter Rau had two RBIs.

Gabe Gruszynski and Jayden Steckel combined on a 5-hitter.

East's Bryce Erickson drove in three runs, including a two-out, two-run single in the first inning to give the T-birds a 2-1 lead. He added a sac fly in the fourth inning.

Daniel Mokom went 2-for-2 with a double, walk and two runs. He also cleaned up a mess in the seventh inning on the mound.

Ashton Volkman doubled for the T-birds (2-9, 1-5 CIC).

Thursday in the CIC: South clinches tournament 1 seed

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 20, 2021

South 10, West 0

South 10, West 0

Sean Giffen, Ethan Staples and Andrew Buckendorf each had multiple RBIs to power the Wolverines to a Cook Inlet League win at Mulcahy Stadium.

South starter Isaac Johnson pitched five shutout innings to lower his season ERA to 0.47 over 15 innings of work. He struck out eight West batters and allowed just one hit.

With the win, South (11-0, 6-0 CIC) clinched the No. 1 seed at next week's CIC Tournament.

Giffen finished 2-for-3 and drove in three runs while Staples and Buckendorf drove in two runs apiece.

South leads the league in first-inning runs and tacked on another half dozen in this game.

West's Michael Halpern led off the second inning with a single for his team's lone base knock.

Starting pitchers Athena Clendaniel and Michael Tillman were foiled by shaky fielding as only four of the 10 were earned.
 
 

Homza homers in back-to-back pro games for first time

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 19, 2021

Anchorage’s Jonny Homza has hit home runs in consecutive games for the first time in his four-year pro career.

The starting catcher with the Fort Wayne TinCaps hit a two-run dinger in Friday’s 8-2 loss and a solo shot in Saturday’s 4-3 win.

Homza is batting third or cleanup in the lineup, so he’s a slugger the team counts on to drive the ball into the gap, or over the fence.

Homza now has 10 home runs in 197 career games to make him just the third Alaskan to reach double digits in dingers at the pro level. The other two are Jamar Hill and Cliff Anderson.

He seems to hit his homers in bunches, too; so he might hit another one soon. In 2019, he hit two homers in a three-game stretch with Auckland in the Australian Baseball League. In 2018, he hit two homers in a four-game stretch with the Padres in the Rookie League.

The 21-year-old was a fifth-round MLB draft pick straight out of high school by the San Diego Padres in 2017.

Homza has been nothing short of solid as a pro.

Not only has the infielder-turned-catcher had to adjust to pro pitching, he’s had to learn a new position behind the plate as well.

The fact that he’s the starting catcher and batting in the middle of the lineup is a testament to his skillset and mindset.

Saturday in the CIC: South, Dimond, Service, ER win

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 15, 2021

South 6, Chugiak 0

Junior pitchers Isaac Johnson and Curtis Hebert combined for a 2-hit shutout as the Wolverines won this Cook Inlet Conference league game at Mulcahy Stadium.

Johnson started and Hebert closed and they held the Mustangs without a hit over the final 5.2 innings. Johnson struck out seven in five innings and Hebert had one in two innings.

South (10-0, 5-0 CIC) maintained sole possession of first place in the CIC with two more league games left before the inaugural CIC Tournament.

South junior Oliver Brown got the party started for the Wolverines in the first inning with a two-run triple. He scored on Maddux Soland's sac fly to make it 3-0.

A Thomas Pease RBI double pushed the lead to 5-0 in the fifth inning.

Chugiak sophomore Andrew Gruszynski got one of his team's two base hits and pitched well in relief, allowing no hits and one unearned run in 2.1 innings.

A couple of freshmen stood out for the Mustangs (4-5, 1-4 CIC) in Preston Rau and Jayden Steckel. Rau reached base twice on a single and hit by pitch. Steckel flashed some leather at third base with a couple of nice plays.

Dimond 14, West 6

Senior Logan Sweet went 4-for-5 to highlight his team's 15-hit attack and lead the Lynx to a Cook Inlet Conference league win at Mulcahy Stadium.

The catcher clubbed a pair of doubles to deep left field, scored a run and drove in a run.

Sophomore Shane Stephan went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs. He was also in the middle of two double plays as the Lynx turned three twin killings on the day.

Dimond (9-1, 4-1 CIC) had nine players with at least one RBI and four players who scored three runs or more.

Lynx pitchers were Joe Moriarty, Luke Smith, Adam Boyce and Alex Bruce.

West freshman Orion Haliburton doubled and finished 2-for-4 with a run. Freshman Evan Fitzgerald and junior Braden John each drove in runs, and freshman Liam Gunn made a diving grab at first base to take away extra bases.

The Eagles trailed 10-1 in the fifth inning before fighting back and piecing together a five-spot. to make things interesting at 10-6.

But Dimond finished strong, thanks to five extra-base hits on doubles from Sweet, Garrett Lick and Bruce, and a triple from Zach Jenkins.

Service 11, East 1

Senior Hutton Stiles smacked an inside-the-park home run and pitched four no-hit innings as the Cougars cruised to a Cook Inlet Conference league win at Mulcahy Stadium.

Freshman Andrew Hickman had three RBIs and freshman Coen Nicai had two RBIs as the Cougars helped head coach Willie Paul rack up his 50th career win.

Stiles was sensational, first giving his team a 1-0 lead on a homer and then striking out seven batters over four innings.

Service (3-7, 2-3 CIC) scored five runs in the first inning, including two-out RBIs by Hickman, freshman Mike Sculley, senior Nick Coates and freshman Hunter Christian.

The Cougars scored another crooked number in the third inning, plating six runs with the help of RBIs from Niclai and freshmen Owen Hickman and James Ivey.

East senior Zack Barnhart balled out. He pitched four innings, including scoreless frames in the second, fourth and fifth innings. He also banged out his team's lone hit in the fifth inning.

East freshman Alan Contreras had an RBI and freshman right fielder Juan Franco made an unassisted double play after catching a flyout and doubling up the runner at first base.

The T-birds dropped to 2-8, 1-4 CIC.

Eagle River 13, Bartlett 3

The Wolves turned a first-inning triple play and broke things open with a seven-run fifth inning to key a Cook Inlet Conference league win at Mulcahy Stadium.

The game featured four lead changes in the first four innings.

Seniors Cam Witte and Stefan Retzlaff each went 3-for-4 and combined to score five runs and drive in four runs.

The Wolves (7-2, 4-1 CIC) kept even with Dimond for second place in the CIC, setting up a huge game with the Lynx on Thursday.

Eagle River had seven different players drive in a run and seven score a run. It was a total team effort.

Junior Noah Lower and sophomore Josh Thompson combined on a 3-hitter over six innings.

Bartlett got RBIs from senior Blake Bacho, junior John Grantier and freshman Nick Brandal. Grantier's run-scoring single gave the Golden Bears (5-5, 2-3 CIC) a 3-2 lead.

Both third basemen made awesome defensive plays - Bartlett's Conner Sessoms had a nice barehand scoop and Eagle River's Connor Lanehart laidout to take away a base hit.

Friday in the CIC: Colavecchio strikes out league-best 16

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 14, 2021

Bartlett 6, West 1

Carl Colavecchio racked up 16 strikeouts, one of Alaska's highest totals in the pitch count era, to highlight the Golden Bears' Cook Inlet Conference league win at Mulcahy Stadium.

The sophomore starter struck out the side in the first, second and fifth innings en route to setting a CIC season-high, breaking the previous high of 14 set by Dimond's Garrett Lick on May 7.

Colavecchio came out firing on all cylinders and mowed down eight batters through three innings and 10 through four. He finished with 6.1 innings, allowing one hit and scattering five walks.

He struck out the final seven batters he faced before the pitch count took him out of the game. Senior Connor Sessoms got the final two outs as Bartlett (5-4, 2-2 CIC) defeated West for the second time this season, the first time that’s happened since 2006.

The Golden Bears banged out 10 hits, led by Eli Corwin's 3-for-4 effort. Senior Breyer Greene and freshman Nick Brandal each went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

West sophomore Caden Greenhalgh doubled, senior Ben Durhsen scored his team’s lone run and junior Athena Clendaniel drew three walks and pitched 1.1 innings of relief.

Clendaniel is the first female since 2015 to start for a CIC baseball team, following in the footsteps of Eagle River’s Lauren Frost. Frost was an All-CIC pick in 2014 and went on to play softball in the Pac-12 at Stanford University.

Clendaniel started at first base and finished on the mound, recording the final four outs on this night, including a pickoff play at second base in the seventh inning.

Steffensen hits playoff home run for St. Cloud in Game 1

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 13, 2021

Kenai’s Paul Steffensen knocked the door down in his first playoff game with St. Cloud State.

The junior transfer crushed a fourth-inning home run, drove in another run and scored twice to highlight his team’s 6-4 win over the University of Mary in Game 1 of the best-of-3 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference first-round postseason series.

The left fielder went 3-for-5 with eight total bases to raise his season batting average to .333 in 33 games.

Steffensen, of Kenai Central High fame, crushed a solo homer to give St. Cloud a 1-0 lead. His RBI single made it 2-0 in the fifth inning. He tripled and scored to get his team within 4-3 in the seventh inning.

The home run was the 14th of his career, tying him with former Dimond star Sagan Osborne, who hit 14 bombs at Dickinson State over the 2016 to 2017 seasons. Steffensen and Osborne are tied for fifth on the state’s all-time home run list.

Steffensen, who transferred to St. Cloud from D1 Tennessee Tech, has homered in back-to-back games and leads St. Cloud State with seven dingers on the season.

Game 2 is Friday morning, with an if-necessary Game 3 later that night.

Wall moves into Northwestern's top-10 all-time in wins

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 13, 2021

Juneau’s Philip Wall extended to four his personal winning streak on the pitching mound for the University of Northwestern-St. Paul baseball team to help him break into the school’s top-10 for wins.

The senior right-hander threw eight solid innings in his team’s 5-1 triumph Augsburg in Minnesota, giving him his 15th career win to move into a tie for tenth place all-time.

This excellent effort came just a week after his nine-inning complete game performance against Northland when he racked up a career-best nine strikeouts.

The former Juneau Legion Post 25 all-star improved to 4-0 with a 1.86 ERA across his last four appearances.

He also recorded 19 strikeouts in those 29 innings for one of the best ratios of his four-year career with the NCAA D3 Eagles.

In the win over Augsburg, he left a 1-1 tie but benefited from his team’s four-run ninth inning breakout.

It was a stark contrast to earlier this season when he seemed to have been snake bitten with a string of tough losses and no decisions. Since the end of March, however, he has shaved a full run off his ERA and rediscovered his winning touch.

He’s gotten there thanks to a career-low 2.72 ERA in 56.1 innings this season.

With the end of his career in sight, Wall looks to finish strong at next week’s conference tournament.

 

Philip Wall.jpg

Wednesday in the CIC: South wins battle for first place

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 12, 2021

South 5, Dimond 3

Senior Dylan Maltby doubled, drove in two runs and threw out a base runner in the seventh inning to key the Wolverines' Cook Inlet Conference league win at Mulcahy Stadium.

Arguably the league's top hitter, Maltby ripped run-scoring base hits in each of his first two at-bats, including an RBI single in the second inning that gave the undefeated Wolverines a 4-1 lead.

First place in the CIC was on the line in this game, and South (9-0, 4-0 CIC) got it done after getting to the Lynx (7-1, 3-1 CIC) early and then holding on thanks to senior reliever Reece Ivanoff.

Ivanoff closed the game with 2.2 scoreless innings, saving it for junior starter Oliver Brown.

Dimond's Garrett Lick was sick on the bump. The senior right-hander was spectacular with five innings of shutout relief, keeping his team in the game.

Lick also made a nice pick at first base in the second inning, saving a run.

South senior Kellen Curtis singles, drove in a run and scored twice, including his team's final run to make it 5-1 in the second inning.

Dimond senior Adam Boyce and junior Alex Bruce each drove in a run and scored a run. Peyton Montagna scored in the fourth inning to make it 5-3.

Chugiak 16, West 6

The Mustangs pulled even at 4-4 overall on the season with a non-league win at Bartlett High School.

Tuesday in the CIC: The Costanios Show plays at Mulcahy

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 11, 2021

Chugiak 6, Service 1

Senior Camden Costanios earned player-of-the-game honors and it wasn't even close as he put the Mustangs on his back to deliver his team's first Cook Inlet Conference league win at Mulcahy Stadium.

The 6-foot southpaw pitched five no-hit innings and struck out 12 batters, and batted 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run.

Costanios broke open the game with a two-run single that extended Chugiak's lead to 4-1 as part of the team's four-run seventh inning.

On the mound, Costanios was impressive. Twelve of his 15 outs came on strikeouts, with the other three outs coming on two popups and a caught stealing by catcher Hunter Rau.

His only hiccup came with five walks, which led to Service's only run that tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth inning.

Chugiak sophomore Andrew Gruszynski went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and freshman closer Preston Rau earned the save with two scoreless innings for the Mustangs (3-4, 1-3 CIC).

Service's defense kept the game close, recording two outs at home and one at third baseman. Cougars catcher Coen Niclai threw out two base runners.

Freshman Owen Hickman recorded his the only base hit on a slow roller up the middle for Service (2-7, 1-3 CIC). Freshman starter Andrew Hickman pitched four innings and allowed just one run.

Bartlett 18, Grace Christian 7

The Golden Bears beat the Grizzlies for the second time this season in a non-league game at BHS and improved to 4-4 overall, the most wins for Bartlett since 2015.

West Legion team wins Trajan Langdon Youth Award

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 10, 2021

The West Post 1 Legion team has won the Trajan Langdon Youth Award as voted by the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors over fellow finalists the Juneau-Douglas boys basketball team and Ninilchik boys basketball team.

In July of last summer, West helped head coach John Opinsky walk off the field a winner for the final time after the Eagles scored three runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and final inning to beat Wasilla 3-2 for its first state title since 1977.

Jack Opinsky had the game-winning hit, an emotional moment for him and his father John, who had battled terminal brain cancer throughout the season.

“(Jack) gave me one of the hardest hugs of his life. I will never forget it,” John Opinsky told the Anchorage Daily News.

Five months later, John Opinsky passed away. He was 52.

Opinsky was survived by wife Cathy and their three sons Jack, Nicko and Jimmy.

“After the last game of the season, John gathered the team and professed his love for his wife, his boys and his team,” Wilson said. “To steal a line from Lou Gehrig, he essentially declared himself ‘the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.’”

Opinsky coached all three of his sons in Little League, and Jack and Nicko played for him in high school and Legion. Both guys were on the 2020 title team, although Nicko missed the second half of the season after getting injured sliding into third base.

At the state tournament, Jack, a shortstop, won the Gold Glove Award and provided a storybook ending to West’s first championship in 43 years.

The Juneau basketball finished with a 16-1 record but had to turn down a state tournament berth due to a Juneau School District policy that prohibited travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Crimson Bears were the only qualifying team in the state not allowed to travel and compete for a state championship.

The JDHS team unsuccessfully lobbied for a solution that would have allowed them to compete.

“I am proud of the way they handled themselves with class, dignity, and humility,” coach Robert Casperson said of his players.

Ninilchik hoops team lost a controversial Peninsula Conference championship game to Lumen Christi 72-71 on a last-second 3-pointer that officials later said should not have counted because of a time clock error.

Ninilchik filed a protest and appealed the ruling to no avail.

Lumen Christi went on to win the state championship while Ninilchik had to stay home.

“We need to keep our chin up. We did the right thing, you boys did the right thing, and be proud of where you are and what you’ve done,” the Nikiski faculty and staff told the players, according to the Nikiski principal in an Anchorage Daily News article.

Trajan Langdon Youth Award honors a youth or group of youths who demonstrated leadership, integrity and sportsmanship during the past year and positively influenced and inspired others to be better sportsmen or sportswomen. Recipient(s) must be in high school or younger at time of selection.

Monday in the CIC: Wallace throws gem for Eagle River

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 10, 2021

Eagle River 16, East 0

Cam Witte, Josh Thompson, Gavin Henning and Connor Lanehart each had three RBIs and starting pitcher Charlie Wallace pitched a 1-hitter over five innings for the Wolves in a Cook Inlet Conference league win at Mulcahy Stadium.

Noah Lower went 3-for-3 and reached base all five times. Stefan Retzlaff scored four times and made a nice catch against the fence in foul territory in the third inning for the Wolves (6-2, 3-1 CIC).

East's Daniel Mokom smoked a no-doubt single in the second inning.

The T-birds (2-6, 1-3 CIC) got two terrific defensive plays from first baseman Agnus Nicholson and outfielder Ja'Sem Atonio in center field.

Colony 14, Service 2

The Knights earned a decisive win against the Cougars in a non-conference game at Bartlett High School.

Lincoln extends 9-game hit streak, now batting .342

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 9, 2021

Anchorage’s Lian Lincoln has been on a tear this season, especially over the last few weeks.

A recent hot streak has elevated the Macalester College baseball player to No. 2 on his team in hitting with a career-high .342 batting average.

The junior outfielder is currently riding a career-best nine-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games with the NCAA D3 team out of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

The former South Wolverines star has gone 25-for-73 at the plate this season with one home run and seven RBIs in 23 games.

He hit .216 as a freshman and .333 as a sophomore before COVID canceled the season.

The former Cook Inlet Conference Player of the Year has raised his average 25 points during his hitting streak.

Saturday in the CIC: South, Bartlett, Service post wins

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 8, 2021

South 8, Eagle River 7

Senior Andrew Buckendorf scored the winning run with one out in the eighth inning as the Wolverines won the Cook Inlet Conference league game at Mulcahy Stadium in the CIC's first extra-inning game of the season.

Buckendorf walked and scored after Lucas Wilkins' single to center was misplayed by the fielder, allowing Buckendorf to race home with the winning run. Buckendorf was going first to third on the base hit before the defensive hiccup opened the door to come home.

South's top of the order guys Kellen Curtis and Oliver Brown combined to go 5-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs for South (8-0, 3-0 CIC).

Curtis tied the game 7-7 in the seventh inning with a sacrifice fly that was set up by senior Thomas Pease, who singled and went to second base on a throwing error before being replaced by pinch-runner Grayson Shaw, who wound up scoring the tying run.

Eagle River had its chances. Many of them. The Wolves led 5-0 early and 7-6 late.

Junior Garren Henning had himself a day, going 3-for-3 with three RBIs and scoring a run to make it 6-3 in the fifth inning on Charlie Wallace's RBI single.

The Wolves turned two double plays in the first four innings, with second baseman Stefan Retzlaff right in the middle of both plays.

Eagle River (5-2, 2-1 CIC) was seeking its first win over South since 2014.

Service 12, West 1

Senior Hunter Stiles and freshman Coen Niclai each went 2-for-3 with an extra-base hit and three RBIs in the Cougars' Cook Inlet Conference league win at Mulcahy Stadium.

Service finished with a season-high 12 hits, including doubles by Owen Hickman and Niclai, and a triple by Stiles for the Cougars (2-5, 1-2 CIC).

Freshman Hunter Christian scored two runs, drove in a run, pitched two scoreless innings and ended the game with a nice backhand grab to start a 4-6 double play.

On Senior Day, all three seniors (Stiles, Nick Coats, Simon Kouloo) delivered base hits.

West freshman Orion Haliburton scored his team's lone run while freshman Liam Gunn, sophomore Michael Tillman and senior Ben Durhsen. Tillman came on in relief and threw 2.2 scoreless frames for the Eagles (1-6, 1-2 CIC).

Bartlett 12, Chugiak 4

Seniors Conner Sessoms and Breyer Greene had two RBIs apiece and junior starting pitcher John Grantier pitched five solid innings in the Golden Bears' Cook Inlet Conference league win at Mulcahy Stadium.

This was Bartlett's first win over Chugiak since 2009.

Sessoms ripped a two-run double to give the Golden Bears an 8-4 lead in the fifth inning.

Senior Blake Bacho reached base all five times and scored four runs. Sophomore Carl Colavecchio had an RBI triple and scored twice. He also pitched two scoreless innings for Bartlett (3-4, 1-2 CIC).

Grantier struck out four batters and made a nice play in the fourth inning when he fielded a scribber with his bare hand and fired to first for the out, leaving a runner in scoring position.

Chugiak senior Austin Bull singled, tripled and added an inside-the-park home run. He also had three RBIs.

He roped a liner into the right centerfield gap that bounced all the way to the wall. The relay home was wide. Bull's two-out, run-scoring triple pulled Chugiak (2-4, 0-3 CIC) within 6-4.

On a tough defensive night for the Mustangs, freshman second baseman Preston Rau made a outstanding outsretched grab to rob Nick Brandal of a base hit, and saving a run in the process.

Wanna play Legion? Here is tryout info for all 15 teams

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 8, 2021

2021 Legion Tryouts

 

Bartlett Post 29 Golden Bears

Post Manager: Mike Williams

350-6869

44mtwill44@gmail.com

Legion Tryout Date: Contact Manager

 

Chugiak Post 33 Mustangs

Post Manager: Richard Steckel

830-2816

snopro@mtaonline.net

Legion Tryout: May 6

6:30pm Chugiak High School

 

Dimond Post 21 Lynx

Post Manager: John Bruce

440-2286

bruce_john@asdk12.org

Legion Tryout: May 10

6:00pm Dimond High School

 

Eagle River Wolves      

Post Manager: Kurby Olmstead

903-5860

kurby_o@hotmail.com

Legion Tryout: May 9

3:00pm at Loretta French

 

East Post 34 Thunderbirds

Post Manager: Kurt Solberg

242-7406

easttbirds@hotmail.com

Legion Tryout: Contact Manager

 

Fairbanks Post 11 49ers

Post Manager: Rodney Perdue           

978-1995   

rperdue16@gmail.com

Legion Tryout: May 16, 23, 30

1:00pm Marlin Field

 

Juneau Post 25 Midnight Suns

Post Manager: Jeremy Ludeman

723-9505

jeremy@juneauak.org

Legion Tryout Date: Contact Manager

 

Kenai Post 20 Twins

Post Manager: Robb Quelland

398-0871

bdrak1@yahoo.com

Legion Tryout Date: May 9

2:00pm Soldotna Little League Fields

 

Ketchikan Post 3 King Salmon

Post Manager: John Milner      

220-7453

redmilner@gmail.com

Legion Tryout: Contact Manager

 

North Pole Post 30 Wild        

Post Manager: Raymond Pulsifer

388-4255   

rlpulsifer@yahoo.com

Legion Tryout: May 23

1:00pm ARCO Field

 

Palmer Post 15 Pioneers

Post Manager: Matt Ketchum

229-8558

matt@khcivil.com

Legion Tryout: Contact Manager

 

Service Post 28 Cougars

Post Manager: Willie Paul

280-8439

williepaul1@live.com

Legion Tryout: May 6

6:30pm Kosinski Fields

 

South Post 4 Wolverines

Post Manager: Shawn Maltby

980-2837

shawnmaltby@yahoo.com

Legion Tryout Date: Contact Manager

 

Wasilla Post 35 Road Warriors

Post Manager: Ken Ottinger

301-4084   

ottworks@yahoo.com

Legion Tryout: Contact Manager

 

West Post 1 Eagles

Post Manager: John Wilson

317-3757

jlwilson@gci.net

Legion Tryout: May 7

6:00pm West High School

Friday in the CIC: Dimond, East break out the bats in wins

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 7, 2021

Dimond 12, Service 2
Junior starting pitcher Garrett Lick mowed down 14 batters and Dimond scored five runs in each of the sixth and seventh innings to pull away for a Cook Inlet Conference league win at Mucalhy Stadium.

The junior right-hander allowed one hit, two runs and two walks in six innings. He's the second Dimond pitcher this week to rack up at least 13 strikeouts.

Dimond (7-0, 3-0 CIC) came into the night averaging 12.5 runs per game, but Service starting pitcher Hutton Stiles quieted the slugging Lynx through his five innings of work. He struck out nine batters and scattered four hits and three walks while allowing only two runs.

Lick and Miah Eneix each had two RBIs for Dimond, but it was Logan Smith's RBI double in the sixth inning that gave the Lynx the lead for good at 3-2. From there, Lick singled in a run, Eneix hit a sac fly, Shane Stephan scored on a wild pitch and Zach Jenkins capped the five-run inning with an RBI double of his own.

Service's Coen Niclai had his team's lone hit, lone RBI and scored a run. Stiles scored the other run for the Cougars (1-5, 0-2 CIC).

East 9, Bartlett 1

Senior Daniel Mokom and freshman Alan Contreras each had two hits and three RBIs to key the T-birds' Cook Inlet Conference league win at Mulcahy Stadium.

Mokom ripped a line-drive triple to left field that bounced to the wall and cleared the bases loaded to push the lead to 7-1 in the fourth inning.

East senior starting pitcher Brandon Martin threw six strong innings with five strikeouts. He gave up three hits, two runs and one run.

East leadoff hitter Zack Barnhart got the party started in the first inning after reaching base on an error. The senior stole second, stole third and was on the back end of a double steal to get the T-birds (2-5, 1-2 CIC) on the board first.

Bartlett sophomore catcher Elijah Corwin shut down the East running game after that, throwing out three baserunners.

Speaking of defense, both center fielders showed out. East senior Ja'Sen Atonio made two diving catches and Bartlett sophomore Carl Colavecchio made a nice catch to end the third inning and save a run.

The Golden Bears fell to 2-4, 0-2 in the CIC.

Thursday in the CIC: Eagle River, South are victorious

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 6, 2021

Eagle River 10, West 3

First baseman Stefan Retzlaff, shortstop Noah Lower and outfielder Joshua Thompson each had three RBIs to highlight the Wolves’ Cook Inlet Conference league win at Bartlett High School.

Retzlaff went 3-for-4 and scored three runs. Thompson hit an inside-the-park home run and Cam Witte doubled and scored three times.

Eagle River’s Luke Barch picked up the win with six innings of relief. He came into the game in the first inning with the bases loaded and no outs. He allowed one inherited runner to score but struck out the side. Barch finished with 11 Ks.

Charlie Wallace and Elijah Blaum also had RBIs for Eagle River (5-1, 2-0 CIC).

West jumped on the Wolves early, using an infield single and five walks to take a 3-0 lead in the first inning.

Michael Halpern, Athena Clendaniel and Braden John registered RBIs for the Eagles (1-5, 1-1 CIC).

South 14, Wasilla 4

Slugger Dylan Maltby went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, three runs and two walks as the Wolverines beat Wasilla for the second time in a week in a non-league game at Bartlett High School.

Wednesday in the CIC: South, Dimond both move to 6-0

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 5, 2021

South 11, East 1

First baseman Joey Serra and right fielder Lucas Wilkins each had three RBIs as the undefeated Wolverines won the Cook Inlet Conference league game at Bartlett High School.

Serra went 2-for-2 with a run and Wilkins was 2-for-3 with two runs. Oliver Brown and Dawson Beatty also had RBIs for South (6-0, 2-0 CIC).

Starting pitcher Isaac Johnson went all five innings, allowing only two hits and one walk. He struck out seven batters.

East second baseman Alan Contreras singled to lead off the fifth inning for his team’s first base hit.

With two outs, Willy Nunez banged out a base hit to score his team's lone run. The T-birds dropped to 1-5, 0-2 in the CIC.

Dimond 8, Bartlett 3

The undefeated Lynx needed a five-run third inning to create some breathing room and highlight their Cook Inlet Conference league win at Bartlett High School.

The Golden Bears came to play and trailed only 1-0 through first innings as they hung tough against a team they haven’t beaten since 2015.

Dimond’s top-of-the-lineups sparked the offense as third baseman Adam Boyce, first baseman Miah Eneix and center fielder Zack Jenkins combined to go 6-for-9 at the plate with six runs and two RBIs.

Second baseman Shane Stephan hit No. 7 in the lineup and went 2-for-2 with a run and RBI for the Lynx (6-0, 2-0 CIC).

Bartlett starting pitcher Blake Bacho kept his team in the game by allowing just one run in four innings of work. He scattered five hits and one walk while racking up five strikeouts.

The Golden Bears had their chances to score midway through the game, but credit Dimond pitchers for wiggling out of a first-and-third, one out jam in the fourth inning and a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning.

Bartlett finally broke through in the seventh inning after Nick Brandal, Elijah Corwin and Breyer Greene each walked and later scored. The Golden Bears (2-3, 0-1 CIC) ended the game with the bases loaded.

Tuesday in the CIC: Aces rule the day for Dimond, South

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 4, 2021

Dimond 10, Chugiak 0

Miah Eneix racked up 13 strikeouts and allowed one hit over five innings as the Lynx scored early and often to easily win the Cook Inlet Conference league game at Bartlett High School.

The senior southpaw struck out eight of the first nine batters before Chugiak center fielder Camden Costanios singled to lead off the fourth inning.

Eneix struck out the side in the first, second and fourth innings. He faced a bases loaded situation in the fourth but ended the threat on a three-pitch strikeout.

Dimond catcher Logan Sweet’s two-run double made the score 4-0 in the second inning. Third baseman Luke Smith had two RBIs, including one in his team’s six-run fourth inning.

The Lynx (5-0, 1-0 CIC) have reached double figures in all five games this season and score an averaging of 13.4 runs per game.

The Dimond-Chugiak rivalry is one of the most competitive in CIC history. Since 1992, the all-time series is tied 28-28 in 56 all-time meetings.

South 10, Service 0

Starting pitcher Ryan Watson pitched four no-hit innings and second baseman Oliver Brown drove in three runs as South cruised to victory in a Cook Inlet Conference league game at Bartlett High School.

South pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts – 10 from Watson and three by reliever Reece Ivanoff, who pitched a clean fifth to seal the deal.

Brown batted 2-for-3 and scored two runs. Teammates Sean Giffen, Thomas Pease, Lucas Wilkins and Joey Serra each had RBIs. Maddux Soland scored twice.

The Wolverines (5-0, 1-0 CIC) are fresh off their win at last week’s Buddy Dale Invitational in Wasilla.

Service's Andrew Hickman struck out four batters and gave up three runs in 3.1 innings. Second baseman Hunter Christian and first baseman James Ivey both drew walks for the Cougars (1-4, 0-1).

South now leads the all-time series 17-12 dating back to 2005.

Monday in the CIC: Eagle River, West win league openers

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 3, 2021

Eagle River 3, Chugiak 2

Shortstop Cam Witte’s two-out RBI single put the Wolves ahead and relief pitcher Noah Lower closed it out in a Cook Inlet Conference league game at Bartlett High School.

With the game tied at 2-2, catcher Luke Barch walked to lead off the top of the seventh inning. Garren Henning was brought in to run for Barch and advanced to second base on an error and stole third base before scoring the go-ahead run.

Lower earned the save after pitching 2.1 innings with four strikeouts, including back-to-back Ks to open the bottom half of the seventh.

Eagle River (4-1, 1-0) snapped a six-game losing streak to arch rival Chugiak dating back to 2014.

Chugiak's Camden Costanios pitched six strong innings in a no decision, striking out six batters and scattering four hits and three walks.

Catcher Andrew Gruszynski and right fielder Gabe Gruszynski each had RBIs for the Mustangs (2-2, 0-1).

West 14, East 6

Athena Clendaniel had a three-run double and finished with four RBIs to help West take the lead for good on its way to a Cook Inlet Conference league win at Bartlett High School.

Her big bat gave her dad Allen, the head coach, his first win at the high school varsity level as the Eagles improved to 1-4.

Younger brother Cyrus started in left field and went 1-3 with a run and RBI.

West shortstop Orion Haliburton and second baseman Michael Helpern each had one base hit, two runs and two RBIs.

East first baseman Bryce Erickson went 3-for-4 with a run and RBI. Catcher Alan Contreras went 2-for-3 while center fielder Ja'Sem Atonio and shortstop Brandon Martin each had one base hit and scored a pair of runs.

Steffensen smacks 2 homers in same game for St. Cloud

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 2, 2021

A pair of home runs from Kenai’s Paul Steffensen provided bookends for St. Cloud State’s 13-3 win over Northern State in NCAA D2 baseball.

Steffensen hit a two-run dinger in the first inning to start the scoring and followed up with a solo shot in the seventh inning that ended the scoring.

The Alaska slugger finished 4-for-5 with four runs and five RBIs.

He added an RBI single in the second inning and an RBI double in the third inning.

Steffensen, of Kenai High fame, extended his hitting streak to six games as he raised his season batting average to .317.

He has raised his average 47 points over the last 10 games thanks to a .390 clip (16-for-41).

Jessee emerges as Gonzaga's go-to closer out of pen

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Apr 22, 2021

The Gonzaga University baseball team has a new closer.

And his name is Brody Jessee.

The Anchorage native recorded his first two college saves in a nine-day span against Saint Mary’s and Washington.

He earned them the hard way, too; pitching two shutout innings in each game.

The freshman right-hander has been a big boost to the Zags’ bullpen, racking up a 4.08 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 17.2 innings.

He was promoted from middle-of-the-game guy to the go-to guy who comes in with the game on the line.

The former South Wolverines star protected a 2-1 win over Saint Mary’s by throwing two clean innings.

In the eighth inning he registered two strikeouts and a comebacker. In the ninth inning he worked around a single and a walk to end the game with a strikeout.

In a 3-0 win over Washington, Jessee sealed the deal with a pair of scoreless frames.

He entered the game in the eighth inning with two runners on base and no outs.

Jesse struck out the first two batters he faced before ending the inning on a flyout.

In the ninth inning, he wiggled out of a two-on, two out jam by striking out the final batter of the game.

Jessee (1-0) has struck out twice as many batters as he’s walked.

Gonzaga is 24-13 on the season, including 7-4 when the Alaskan pitches.

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Davis pitches Dean College to win in season opener

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Apr 10, 2021

Anchorage’s Gaten Davis danced around trouble on the pitcher’s mound and then waltzed off with the win after Dean College rallied on opening day.

The 6-foot-7 senior right-hander worked around trouble in five effective innings and then watched his team rally for a 5-3 victory over Albertus Magnus in Franklin, Massachusetts.

Davis scattered eight hits and a walk while striking out five batters.

In the first inning, he worked around three singles, thanks in part to a caught stealing.

He ended the second inning with a strikeout looking, leaving the bases loaded.

Davis gave up a home run to fall behind 3-1 in the fourth inning and then chalked up his only 1-2-3 inning in the fifth inning.

In the bottom half of the fifth, Dean plated three runs to take a 4-3 lead before tacking on another run in the sixth inning.

The former East Thunderbirds star deserved the winning decision. He got the first out in each of his five innings of work and one of the runs he gave up was unearned.

Davis improved his career record to 4-7 while racking up 81 strikeouts in 88.2 innings across 28 appearances.

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Wall suffers stretch of bad luck despite 1.57 ERA

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Apr 5, 2021

Juneau’s Philip Wall has pitched incredibly well over the last three weeks but has nothing to show for it.

Despite a tidy 1.57 ERA in his last 23 innings, the University of Northwestern-St. Paul senior right-hander has a 0-1 record with three decisions.

His lights-out efficiency would normally result in victories, but not in Wall’s case. He seems to be snake bitten this season.

The game he lost he gave up one earned run over seven innings. He had a no decision in a game that he threw five scoreless innings.

Then there was another game when he left after five innings in a 2-2 tie. Then his team exploded for 10 runs over the next three innings, allowing the guy who replaced him to cruise to a winning decision.

Like the song goes, if he didn’t have bad luck, he wouldn’t have any luck at all.

The 5-foot-10, 230-pounder former Juneau Post 25 star is a crafty pitcher who wins by throwing strikes and relying on his defense. He doesn’t overpower batters, but he does outsmart them.

Two-thirds of his outs have come on groundballs (44 of 66) during this four-game stretch.

Jessee's fastball-slider combo baffles opposing batters

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Mar 31, 2021

Brody Jessee of Anchorage has looked very comfortable this season on the pitcher’s mound for Gonzaga University.

Opposing batters, not so much.

Nearly half of his outs have come by strikeout as D1 hitters have struggled to touch his fabulous fastball-slider combo.

The freshman flame thrower has racked up 14 Ks in 11.2 innings and is yet to allow an inherited runner to score.

He owns a 3.09 ERA and has had four scoreless appearances in seven games.

Jessee, a former South Wolverines star, won his first decision after throwing three shutout innings in a 13-inning, 10-4 win over Santa Clara.

The 6-foot-4 right-hander worked around a leadoff triple in the 12th inning with a groundout, strikeout and flyout.

Gonzaga then scored six runs in the top of the 13th inning and Jesse closed it out, ending the game on a called third strike.

Sugita earns first MCAC player-of-the-week honors

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Mar 29, 2021

There’s hot. And then there’s Terren Sugita.

The Vermilion College baseball player from Anchorage hit a scorching .522 over six games to earn player-of-the-week honors in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference.

Sugita went 12-for-23 at the plate with three home runs and 13 RBIs. The freshman infielder also smacked three doubles and scored eight runs.

He led his team to a 5-1 record on the week.

"Just the beginning," he wrote on Twitter.

The former South Wolverines star leads the Minnesota College Athletic Conference in home runs and RBIs.

He's also pitched in three games and is tied for the league lead with one save.

The crafty right-hander has made three appearances and racked up five strikeouts in 3.2 innings.

His save came in an 11-10 win over Rainy River. He started the game at designated hitter and finished it on the mound, coming in relief in the seventh inning to close it out and bail out a teammate who surrendered four runs in the frame. He retired three of four batters he faced. He retired three of four batters he faced.

Sugita leads his team with a .452 batting average in nine games. He has base hits in eight of those games, including a double in just his second game back on the field in two years since high school.

Dare to dream: Meszaros always knew, now so do Astros

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Mar 6, 2021

Even though he had been out of baseball for several years, Johnny Meszaros of Anchorage still loved the game and badly wanted to pitch again.

He set up a pitching net in his backyard and prepared mentally and physically like it was Game 7 of the World Series. That might sound funny and some people thought he was crazy, but he didn’t care. This was his dream.

Meszaros had always wanted to pitch at the professional ranks. And to him, nothing was more important than spending his summer evenings in his backyard working to make that dream come true.

“You can’t give up on yourself,” he said. “I go by the beat of my own drum and I really don’t care what people think. I always thought that was I was doing was better than what everybody else was doing.”

A MLB draft pick out of high school who opted to go to college and then saw his career derailed by elbow injuries, Meszaros was now 26 years old, his window closing.

Returning to the field at an elite level for him seemed unlikely. Yet Meszaros stuck to his guns.

He was determined to be a pro pitcher.

The Houston Astros organization agreed and offered the 6-foot-3, 240-pound rocket right-hander a minor-league deal for the 2021 season. He will officially sign the contract when he reports to camp.

“I was told to expect to be ready by the end of March,” he said.

Seven years after getting drafted in the 39th round by the Tampa Bay Rays, Meszaros will get a second chance to play pro ball thanks to the Houston Astros.

“I always knew this day would come,” he said. “I’ve literally pictured this situation so many times in my head that I’ve already been here, if that make sense.”

When the Astros front-office personnel manager called him to officially offer a contract, Meszaros was one cool customer.

“You’re not going to believe this, but I congratulated him,” he said. “Not trying to be some bad ass or anything, I’m just being honest. I’m ready to roll.”

Meszaros hasn’t pitched in an official game since 2017, but he has stayed in shape and threw the ball on a regular basis. He also coached and worked local clinics to be around the game.

His life changed one day three years ago when he watched a YouTube video of a pro prospect peppering 90-mph fastballs into a net in an effort to draw the attention of pro teams.

“I did what he did,” Meszaros said. “I made a video.”

In 2019, he made a video that showcased his world-class fastball clocked at 98 mph on a radar gun. He also displayed a vanishing slider with crazy movement.

Rather than post it on social media, though, he waited for Houston Astros pitching coach Brent Strom to come back to Anchorage for his annual November youth camp. That’s when he showed the video to Strom.

“His reaction was so amazing,” Meszaros said with a laugh. “He was shocked. He was like, ‘Give me your contact information.’”

That video got the ball rolling. Fast forward to March 2020 and Meszaros was in Florida, where he pitched in front of Strom and other team officials with the Astros.

Then COVID hit and everything came to a halt. Then MLB reorganized its minor league system and 40 teams were eliminated. Fewer teams, fewer players, thus making it harder than ever to play pro ball.

It didn’t matter. Nothing was going to derail his dream. He threw indoors during the winter and in his backyard during the summer.

“I knew that if kept getting better I’d make it,” Meszaros said.

Meanwhile, Meszaros stayed in touch with Strom and sent a couple more videos.

“He’s done this himself,” said Strom, who has been involved with the MLB for nearly 50 years. “He’s worked himself into a guy a team would be interested in, so it wasn’t hard to convince some people to take a chance on him.”

A few weeks ago, Meszaros was in North Carolina, where he pitched in front of a 3D Doppler radar system that measured the trajectory and spin rate of his pitches.

“His stat data is exemplary,” Strom said.

For example, the average spin rate of a MLB slider is around 2,500. Meszaros snaps off his slider at 3,000.

The burly Alaskan already has a pro body and blew away the Astros with his strength and conditioning.

“His work in the weight room was unbelievable,” Strom said. “He’s at the top of the charts.”

Meszaros is grateful for his connection with Strom, who has a long history with Alaska. He played with the Fairbanks Goldpanners in the 1960s and has headlined his youth camp in Anchorage since 2010.

Strom supported Meszaros throughout the years and put him in position to showcase his electric stuff in front of the Astros.

“Once I got the approval of Brent Strom, that’s all I needed,” Meszaros said. “It’s funny, because when I thanked him, he goes ‘Why? You think I did this because you’re a nice guy.’”

Baseball is a business for Strom, although he could still appreciate the persistence and patience of Meszaros.

“I’m really happy for him to get a chance because he put in a lot of time,” Strom said. “He’s not the first to sign at 26. People come at different times and he just wasn’t noticed. I just really hope he comes in really relaxed and let his natural ability take over.

“I think he’s got a great chance to do well with how hard he works on everything. And I think he could be a forebearer for possibly other people in Alaska to see that if you keep your nose to the grindstone and keep working, maybe good things can happen for you too.”

"Hammerin' Hank" left big impression on Alaska visit

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jan 23, 2021

Hank Aaron’s reach in the game of baseball stretched all the way to The Last Frontier.

He went to bat for the Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska in 1996 when he came to Anchorage to kickstart fundraising for field and league development.

Aaron was a living legend, a longtime home run king and one of only five players in Major League Baseball history with 3,000 hits and 500 homers.

That fact that a famous Hall-of-Famer would come to Alaska showcased his true passion to promote the game in all corners of the world.

The memory of meeting ‘Hammerin' Hank’ doesn’t easily fade.

“He left a lasting impression on all of those fortunate to meet him during his stay,” said Alliance president Steve Nerland.

Sadly, Aaron passed away this week at age 86. The loss of a beloved baseball ambassador hit home for every baseball fan.

In 1996, Aaron played in a celebrity softball game at Mulcahy Stadium. He participated in a youth clinic and was the guest of honor during a meet and greet.

The event for the Alliance was helped organized by friend of Alaska American Legion Baseball and former MLB pitcher Wade Blasingame.

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In 1997, Ernie Banks of Chicago Cubs fame came to Anchorage. In 1998, Bob Gibson, the St. Louis Cardinals ace, visited. They all ventured north to assist the Alliance in developing baseball in Alaska.

Today the nonprofit Alliance is responsible for scheduling and coordinating 28 American Legion baseball teams from all parts of the state, including Anchorage, Palmer, Wasilla, Fairbanks, North Pole, Juneau, Kodiak, Ketchikan, Kenai and Sitka.

The Alliance has also been involved in some form or fashion in construction of more than 15 baseball and softball fields over the last 12 years around the state – all of which are utilized by the youth of Alaska.

Aaron played a pivotal role in helping the Alliance get off the ground and in turn break ground to help expand and improve the game in Alaska.

“On this day we remember the all-time great Hank Aaron and honor him for all his accomplishment during his playing days and after,” Nerland said.

West coach Opinsky passes away from cancer at age 52

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jan 11, 2021

West baseball coach John Opinsky, who only five months ago watched his son Jack drive in the winning run in the state championship game, passed away last week from brain cancer. He was 52.

Opinsky in 2019 was diagnosed with an aggressive and terminal type of cancer called glioblastoma, but it couldn't keep him away from the game he loved. He continued to coach the Eagles with his good friend John Wilson and walked off the field a winner.

Opinsky was survived by wife Cathy and their three sons Jack, Nicko and Jimmy.

“After the last game of the season, John gathered the team and professed his love for his wife, his boys and his team," Wilson said. "To steal a line from Lou Gehrig, he essentially declared himself ‘the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.’ ”

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Opinsky graduated from West High in 1987 and played Legion baseball for the Eagles before coming back 30 years later to coach his alma mater.

Before that he was a Little League coach and served on the board of directors for Anchorage West Little League. His team won the AWLL state title in 2016 in his final season before coming to West.

“John was a tireless baseball volunteer who believed every player deserved a chance, and was particularly adamant about not pigeonholing players into one position,” Wilson said. “This philosophy often paid dividends over the course of a season.”

Opinsky coached all three of his sons in Little League, and Jack and Nicko played for him in high school and Legion. Both guys were on the 2020 team, although Nicko missed the second half of the season after getting injured sliding into third base.

At the state tournament, Jack, a shortstop, won the Gold Glove Award as the best fielder and provided a storybook ending to West’s first championship since 1977 with a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh inning to provide a 3-2 walk-off win over Wasilla at Mulcahy Stadium.

After the game, father and son exchanged a big bear hug on the field.

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Even though people in the Alaska baseball community knew about his brain cancer, news of Opinsky’s death hit hard. For most, memories of seeing him just last summer were still there. The lasting images of him running onto the field to celebrate his son’s heroics still fresh.

“John was such an amazing soul who I was blessed to be able to call my friend,” said Wasilla coach Ken Ottinger.

“He did everything the right way and made a difference in these young men’s lives by giving them direction and love through the game that we all love. It saddens me that he was taken way too soon, but it eases my heart knowing that he will continue to lead us from above with that so deserved 2020 state championship trophy.

“In this world that we are surrounded in today we need to all love and live by John’s example. On and off the field. Be kind to one another as John was kind to all of us. Thank you, John for blessing me with your friendship.”

Photographer Wendi Bates got to know Opinsky over the last year with her son Quinn playing his first season for West. She said it was clear the man loved baseball.

“But more than that he loved the boys that he coached,” she said. “He saw the game as a metaphor for life and took coaching way beyond the game and into an opportunity to coach his players into being great men, citizens and community members. 

“He touched them all and I'm so grateful he welcomed my son on to his team. He will be missed.”

Wilson’s son Leland also played for Opinsky. Both dads were on the coaching staff and both their sons played an instrumental role in delivering West’s first state championship in more than 40 years.

The Wilson and Opinsky families have known each other for years, stretching back to their Little League days.

That’s how it was for most of the West team, with players and coaches having spent several summers together on the baseball field.

They stuck together for the good times, and the bad.

“John was lucky enough to get to know a group of little boys in t-ball and then follow them all the way to college ball,” Wilson said. “He cherished his relationships with his players and as his physical condition deteriorated many of them came to his house to squeeze his hand, thank him and wish him well.”

Longtime Kenai coach Lance Coz passes away at age 73

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Sep 30, 2020

Lance Coz, the heart and soul of the Kenai Twins Post 20 American Legion baseball team since 1975, passed away last week at Providence Medical Center due to a heart attack. He was 73.

The tall man was a giant in the Alaska baseball community, developing two Major League Baseball players and building a tremendous Twins program that qualified for the Legion state tournament 43 times in his 45 years with the team.

Kenai has made 35 consecutive appearances at the state tournament since 1986 and won championships in 1991, 1995, 2012 and 2016.

“He was one of a kind,” said Robb Quelland, who had two sons play for Coz in addition to coaching with him.

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“I met Lance about 15 years ago. He was bigger than life. He was a tall man. He had that voice. Always had the mustache. He had a presence about him. I was in awe of him.”

Coz was pivotal in getting the Kenai Legion program started in 1975 and served as manager and head coach. His role diminished a little bit recently, but his shadow loomed large.

“Lance was a pillar during his 45 years of leading the Kenai Post 20 Twins,” said Russ Baker, a former coach and current Alaska Legion chairman. “He coached several of the most successful American Legion players that Alaska has produced.”

Alaska has had three players reach the big leagues and two of them, Marshall Boze and Chris Mabeus, played for Coz. Boze in 1988 set the Legion state record with 21 strikeouts and later became the first MLB player from Alaska in 1996.

There were other aces like Joey Newby, who advanced to Triple-A, and Dennis Machado, a MLB draft pick.

You want hitters? Kenai had memorable sluggers like John Kennedy, A.J. Hull, Jake Darrow and Paul Steffensen.

Kennedy in 1979 set the Legion state tournament record with an .818 batting average. Hull was the 2012 state tournament MVP. Darrow and Steffensen hit .399 and .398, respectively, to finish 1-2 for the batting title in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference in 2018.

Thirty years after playing for Coz, Kennedy came back to coach with him.

“Lance took care of everything for the Twins,” he said. “We had player fees to join the team, but believe me, every player got that money back before the season was over. Players got hats, jackets and food money on every trip.

“We always traveled together JV and varsity on a bus. He believed it was important to travel and stay together. That way the younger players could learn from the older players.”

Coz touched the lives of hundreds of boys from the Kenai Peninsula.

“There weren’t many places that he could walk into in the Kenai/Soldotna area and not see a former player or player’s family,” Quelland said. “We lost count at 750 players he coached.”

He sold the program as a brotherhood and always preached the ‘Twins Way.’

“He would call me out. He would call the players out,” Quelland said. “He always talked about the ones that walked before you. You’re going to carry this on.”

In the beginning, Kenai struggled to get games as a new program on an island more or less. But Coz changed that over time.

“When I played my last year 1979 our team played 15 games that summer, including the three games at the state tournament,” Kennedy said. “When I was the head coach in 2004 and 2005 we played 51 and 55 games, and every team came to Kenai to play.

“That really made playing baseball for us down here on equal playing ground with everyone else.”

Coz battled diabetes and the disease caused him to lose part of his right leg. He wore a prosthetic leg for years. It never slowed him down.

He would have crawled over glass to watch the Twins play baseball.

When he broke his prosthetic leg this year, he was forced to use a wheelchair to get around at the state tournament. Nothing was going to stop him from being there for his beloved program.

News of his death devastated the Alaska baseball community. Lots of heavy hearts. Coz will be missed.

“It saddens me to hear of his passing,” said longtime Fairbanks coach Rodney Perdue. “I first met Lance shortly after being stationed in Alaska and my first stint coaching Legion in the late 90s. Since that time, I have always thought of him as the embodiment of American Legion Baseball in Alaska.”

“Very, very sad news,” said longtime Napoleon (OH) River Bandits coach Randy Bachman, who has come to Alaska ten times. “Lance was a good baseball man and a class individual. So sorry to hear the news.”

“One of greatest and most well-regarded baseball men in the state,” said Ken Wooster, a longtime Anchorage coach and umpire. “Always had a kind word and a super competitive team. I am stunned and saddened. Was lucky to call him a friend. He will be missed by so many. Thank you, Coach Coz, for the decades of dedication to the game and your community.”

“He had a way of keeping things simple. Made life a lot easier than it seemed at the moment of high stress,” said Dimond coach Dan Montagna.

“Every year our teams look forward to our Kenai trip because of the great hospitality and by far the best host lunch anyone in the state puts together between double headers,” said longtime Service coach Willie Paul. “Lance has been at the center of all of that and much more since I was first involved with Legion 17 years ago. He was always at the field and made sure everyone was taken care of. He will be greatly missed by anyone that has played or been involved with American Legion baseball in Alaska.”

“Lance was a good friend and always willing to share his knowledge of Legion baseball,” said ALB chairman Russ Baker. “The famous potluck lunches that Lance and the Kenai parents provided to all of the visiting teams will never be the same. Thank you, Coach Coz.”

Win game, get married: Coach Wright turns double play

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 13, 2020

They met over baseball so the idea of Carey and Floyd Wright of Fairbanks getting married on a baseball field didn’t come out of left field.

They original plan wasn’t to tie the knot on the diamond, but in the era of COVID, anything is possible. They were supposed to have a summer wedding in Fairbanks before the virus hit and shut down everything, putting their plans on hold.

Wright coaches the Fairbanks 49ers with longtime friend Rodney Perdue, who doubles as a Southern Baptist Minister. With the team in Palmer for last week’s Alliance Junior State Tournament, along with his family and extended family, Wright talked with his fiancé about getting married at Hermon Brothers Field.

“She was all for it,” Wright said. “Baseball is in my blood. I thought this would be perfect for the both of us.”

She’s a Cubs fan. He’s a Dodgers fan. Both are now Mat-Su Miners fans after Mat-Su general manager Pete Christopher and the Miners staff rolled out the red carpet for a ceremony in between games at the tournament.

“The Mat-Su staff was all onboard and they really jumped on it,” Wright said. “They were great.”

Before getting hitched, he had to coach the 49ers against the West Eagles. The wedding was on his mind as well as his players, who used his big day as motivation to spark a 7-6 victory.

“It was definitely on my mind, but I think it was more on the kids’ mind,” Wright said. “We had a lull against West and came out flat. The guys were like, ‘We can’t do this. We can’t lose on coach’s day.’”

Wright, 49, said he was able to stay focused on the game until the later stages when he happened to spot his granddaughter and fiancé walking into the ballpark.

“I got all emotional,” he said. “I had to take a walk down the third-base line. My heart just skipped a beat and I started to get emotional.  That’s when I knew it was going to be something special.”

Win game, get married. The ultimate double play.

The 49ers, a group of players 14 to 16 years old, came up clutch all day. First, they rallied for a win. Then, they rallied around their coach.

“Those boys are some really great boys; they were really into this. They helped out and made everything work just fine,” Wright said. “Actually, it was thanks to those boys that we were able to make this happen. They were really helpful.”

As their wedding song 'Speechless' by Dan + Shay played over the PA, the bride walked onto the field in a white dress. The groom was still in uniform. They exchanged vows at the pitcher’s mound. They were united in holy matrimony, with Perdue officiating the ceremony.

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“I have performed lots of ceremonies but this was my first on a baseball field,” Perdue said. “And even though I'm a Southern Baptist Minister, I managed to keep it fairly short.”

Perdue’s presence was pivotal and purposeful as Wright views him as a friend and mentor.

“I’ve known Rod for 16 years and he’s a blessing, truthfully,” Wright said. “I couldn’t think of a better man to marry us. Me and him belong to the same church. He’s a man I look up to and have leaned on at times. Two years ago, I lost my father to cancer and he was right there with me. Rod’s a great guy.”

JV State: Eagle River beats Palmer for 2nd straight title

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 10, 2020

Luke Barch pitched six strong innings and Landon Hudson went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run as the Eagle River Wolves beat the Palmer Pioneers 8-5 in the Alliance Junior State Tournament at Hermon Brothers Field.

Barch allowed four hits and two earned runs while striking out three batters.

Last year, Barch pitched a complete game as Eagle River beat Dimond 17-4 for the state title.

Hudson – the No. 9 batter – sparked his team from the bottom of the lineup, which is exactly what you need to win the big game.

Hudson’s performance was indicative of Eagle River’s next-man-up mindset.

Every member of the starting nine recorded a base hit, scored a run, drove in a run or drew a walk.

“So tough to pick a MVP so we won’t,” Eagle River coach Chris Barch said. “Each game presented its own challenge and it was a different set of players that stepped up each game.

“It was truly a team effort.”

Liam Lierman went 1-for-3 with a run and RBI. Jack Molloy was 1-for-3 with two runs and he pitched the final inning of relief.

Eagle River went 3-0 with a bye in the 12-team, two-division tournament that extended four days in the Mat-Su Valley, with games held at Palmer’s Hermon Brothers Field and Wasilla’s McManus Field.

The Wolves won a wild 15-14 game against Wasilla on Day 2 of the tournament in a slugfest that went extra innings and took nearly four hours to complete. The beat Service 15-1 in the division final to advance to the state title game.

Palmer came into the tournament as the de facto No. 1 seed after winning both regular-season JV tournaments in Fairbanks and Chugiak.

The Pioneers beat Fairbanks Red 9-3 and South 16-6 to reach the state final.

PAST CHAMPS

Legion A/Alliance JV State Title Game

2020 Eagle River 8, Palmer 5

2019 Eagle River 17, Dimond 4

2018 South Black 9, South Gold 0

2017 N/A

2016 Chugiak 12, Kenai 3

2015 N/A

2014 South 10, Dimond 4

2013 Wasilla 6, South 4

2012 Wasilla 5, Fairbanks 4

Opinsky plays hero, West wins first title since 1977

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 29, 2020

In a stunning reversal of fortune, the West Eagles scored three runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning capped by Jack Opinsky’s two-run single that provided a 3-2 walk-off victory over Wasilla in the championship game of the Alliance State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Down to their final out – but no longer facing Wasilla ace and tournament MVP Jacob Gilbert, who had reached his pitch limit – the Eagles beat up the bullpen after Eli Seaver was hit by a pitch, Carter Stolp drove in one run with a single and Opinsky won it with a frozen rope to left field that deflected off the outfielder’s glove.

Opinsky, the tournament’s Gold Glove Award winner and the head coach’s son, was 0-for-3 before delivering the biggest base hit of his life to give West its first state title since 1977.

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The Eagles (17-12) had more hits in the seventh inning than they mustered in the first six innings against Gilbert, a rocket right-hander who carried a tournament-best 13-inning scoreless streak into the final inning.

West catcher Luke Langnes got the party started with a leadoff double off Gilbert. With one out, Max Fink reached on an infield error to put runners at first and third. Gilbert struck out the next batter (his 12th of the night) and was removed from the game after reaching the 105-pitch max.

Everything changed with Gilbert gone. Three batters after he was gone, so was Wasilla's lead.

Gilbert was amazing the whole tournament, especially on the mound and the base paths, and took home the MVP award. It’s rare that the MVP comes from the losing team but that should tell you how great Gilbert was at state.

He didn’t give up an earned run in 13.1 innings and struck out 25 batters over two starts. He led the tournament with six stolen bases and led his team with six runs. His defense in center field was undeniable. He played with passion and poise.

Gilbert scored both runs for Wasilla (22-6); first on Waylon Payne’s RBI single in the first inning and then on Andre Brown’s RBI single in the third inning. The Road Warriors managed an early 2-0 lead against wonderful West lefty Leland Wilson.

The smooth southpaw racked up 10 strikeouts in five innings before he was pulled because of the 105-pitch limit. In two starts, he went 1-0 with 26 strikeouts in 12 innings and a 0.75 ERA. He won the Top Pitcher Award.

Nothing came easy for Wilson in the title game. He was forced to battle every inning, which pushed up his pitch count slow and steady.

There was an expectation for 6-foot-4 lefty to throw well and the 2020 Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year who is headed to NCAA D1 Texas Tech University did just that in the biggest start of his career.

He didn’t get the win, but he gave his team a chance to win.

West closer Max Fink pitched two innings of hitless, shutout relief to earn the win.

This was the second time he saved the Eagles in this tournament. On Day 4, he earned a six-out save to close the door on a 7-4 win over top-seeded Dimond.

Wasilla was making its second consecutive appearance in the state championship game and this was the second time the Road Warriors had their hearts ripped out. Last year they lost 13-8 to Juneau in extra innings. This time it was a walk off.

This loss was the first defeat in five tournament games for the Road Warriors, who were gunning for Wasilla’s first state title since 1990.

Wasilla slugger Nolan Murphy earned the tournament’s Big Stick Award after batting .533 after going 8-for-15 and leading the tournament in hits and his team with five RBIs.

The Mulcahy Stadium parking lot was packed as a sellout crowd of 499 was on hand to watch the final game of the Alliance Baseball League season. The crowd size was limited because of the City-approved mitigation plan due to COVID.

So that meant people were forced to watch from wherever they could, peeking through open fences and even climbing atop vehicles to watch over the outfield wall. That’s normally a no-no, but maybe that’s the new normal.

It was a game nobody wanted to miss.

Even Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy was at the game and threw out a ceremonial first pitch.

Matson: MVP Alley pitches Palmer to 3-2 win for title

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 29, 2020

Palmer’s Ben Alley came up big in the biggest game of the year for the Palmer Pioneers, pitching a complete game to highlight a 3-2 win over South Open in the championship game of the Matson Invitational at Mulcahy Stadium.

Alley threw 90 pitches and got the final out with the trying run on third base.

Coupled with his five-out save in the first meeting between these teams, Alley proved to be the most pivotal piece to a championship squad and earned the Matson MVP Award. He also collected some key base hits in the tournament.

But it was his excellent effort on the mound that cemented his place in Matson history.

The right-hander allowed just three hits and walked four batters, including two in the seventh inning. Alley also hit a batter in the seventh but managed to pitch out of trouble and end the game with a fly ball to right fielder Evan Walker.

Walker played a huge role in helping Palmer (15-11) beat South (23-8) twice in three meetings in the tournament.

Walker doubled in the first run of the game in the first inning, made a nice basket catch to end the third inning and started a relay to first baseman Carson McLaughlin to catcher Brady Shults to gun down a South baserunner at the plate in the fourth inning.

McLaughlin also played well defensively, having a nice dig, tag and relay for separate outs.

Defense was the name of the game and why this was the lowest scoring Matson championship game since the tournament was created in 2014.

Palmer’s Luke Guggenmos scored two runs in the title game – both on sac flies, the first by Brayden Methven in the first inning to make it 2-0 and the second by Kaden Ketchum in the third inning to make it 3-1.

South’s Kellen Curtis played his heart out.

He scored his team’s first run in the first inning on a wild pitch. He pitched 4.2 innings of shutout relief. He had an RBI. And his hustle down the first-base line on a fielder’s choice denied a potential game-ending double play and extended the game with two outs in the seventh inning.

Oliver Brown of South might have been the most talented player in the tournament.

Whether he was pitching, fielding or hitting, good things happened for the Wolverines. He was a finalist for three tournament awards and won the Gold Glove Award. He could have been top pitcher or most valuable.

Brown tossed a 5-hit complete-game shutout with eight strikeouts to lead the way in a 5-0 win over Palmer to hand the Pioneers their first loss of the tournament and forcing the if-necessary game for the championship.

The Matson’s Top Pitcher Award went to North Pole Wild right-hander Gavin Fischer, who turned in one of the greatest pitching performances in tournament history with a 3-hit complete-game shutout with 13 strikeouts against Service.

The Big Stick Award was given to Service’s Henry Helgeson, a right-handed slugger who batted .500 for the tournament with two home runs and two doubles. He struck out only once in 12 plate appearances.

Matson Invitational Title Games

2020 Palmer 3, South Open 2

2019 Ketchikan 6, Eagle River 1

2018 Wasilla 8, Eagle River 3

2017 Ketchikan 7, Eagle River 2

2016 North Pole 6, East 4

2015 Service 8, Ketchikan 3

2014 North Pole 11, Fairbanks 4

State Semifinal: West beats Eagle River in 15-12 slugfest

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 28, 2020

In a wild game where the final two innings took longer than the first five, the West Eagles held off Eagle River in a 19-hit, 15-12 slugfest in the semifinals of the Alliance State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Both teams had busy bullpens as seven pitchers combined to issue 21 walks and hit four batters. Hard to believe, but this game was relatively low scoring early on and featured five lead changes through the first five-plus innings.

Then the Eagles scored nine runs in the sixth inning and two more in the seventh inning to construct a 15-5 cushion. All they needed to get was three outs.

For a minute there it looked sketchy as Eagle River plated seven runs before West’s Revy Mack was summoned to extinguish the threat.

When the smoke cleared, the Eagles had secured West’s first berth to the state championship game since 1988.

West will take on Wasilla in Wednesday’s state championship game at 5:30 p.m. at Mulcahy Stadium.

West will be looking for its first state title since 1977.

Wasilla will be looking for its first state title since 1990.

West (16-12) reached the title game after holding off a hard-charging Eagle River (18-9) team that never wanted to quit.

The game was back and forth with five lead changes and early on featured strong pitching by starters Quinn Bates-Janigo of West and Braden Olmstead of Eagle River.

Bates-Janigo (6IP) needed only four pitches to get out of the first inning and ended the second, fourth and fifth inings with a strikeout.

Olmstead (5IP) picked off a runner, induced a double play and retired West 1-2-3 in the third and fifth innings.

Carter Stolp and Jack Opinsky had RBI base hits to give West a 4-3 lead in the fourth inning, and then Eagle River's Cam Witte hit a run-scoring double to tie the game in the bottom half of the fourth inning.

In the fifth inning, Sterling Retzlaff (3-5, 3 runs, 3 RBI) reached on an error and stole two bases before scoring the tying run. The game looked to be a classic postseason game.

But that all changed in the sixth inning when West sent 15 batters to the plate and scored nine runs, fueled by eight walks and two hit batsmen.

Eagle River batted around in the seventh inning and scored seven runs, capped by Retzlaff's two-run double.

This was the highest scoring game at the state tournament since 2015 when Dimond beat Fairbanks 17-10.

State Semifinal: Murphy, Bailey help Wasilla win 11-1

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 28, 2020

Nolan Murphy stayed scorching hot in the batter’s box and Logan Bailey pitched a complete game as Wasilla beat up South 11-1 in the semifinals of the Alliance State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

The Road Warriors (22-5) advanced to the state final for the second consecutive year, looking to give Wasilla its first state championship since 1990.

Wasilla is 4-0 at this year’s tournament, having outscored opponents 26-9.

Murphy went 3-for-4 and drove in three RBIs with a two-run triple in the fourth inning and a run-scoring single in the sixth inning.

The right fielder is now hitting .636 in four state tournament games on a 7-for-12 clip. He has reached base 10 times in 15 plate appearances.

Murphy, Jacob Gilbert, Andre Brown and Waylon Payne each scored two runs.

Payne, Calvin Stoll, Jacob Hansen, AJ Camacho, Max Wanser each had an RBI for Wasilla, which put up a seven spot in the sixth inning to help force the mercy rule.

Bailey had a lot to with that.

The Class of 2023 right-hander looked like a veteran the way he handled a powerful South team that came into the game hitting .329 for the tournament.

He retired the first batter of the inning five times and ended an inning three times with a strikeout.

Even when he gave up a run, he came away smelling like red roses.

In the third inning, with South runners on first and third, Dylan Maltby lifted a flyball to right field. The runner from third scored but Murphy doubled up the other base runner who was moving on the pitch.

South’s Josh McGovern put in an excellent effort pitching and hitting.

He started the game and pitched into the sixth inning. He finished with 5.1 innings but it felt more like six-plus with how many extra outs he had to get because of defensive errors behind him.

McGovern’s pitch count soared because of extended innings and tough at-bats like the battle he had with Camacho on a 10-pitch beauty in the fifth inning.

Camacho worked a walk after falling behind 0-2 in the game’s best competitive moment.

McGovern has been a gamer for the last week. He batted 2-for-3 and leads the tournament with a .667 batting average. He has reached base in 10 of 13 at-bats.

South finished the season with an 18-9 record.

Matson:South Opens beats North Pole to reach title game

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 28, 2020

Isaac Johnson pitched six strong innings and Reece Ivanoff delivered run-scoring base hits in the first and fifth innings as South Open beat North Pole 6-3 in the semifinals of the Matson Invitational at Mulcahy Stadium.

The Wolverines built an early 3-0 lead and then tacked on runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to hold off a Wild team that brought the tying run to the plate in the last of the seventh inning.

Oliver Brown recorded the save after working around a double and walk.

With the win, South advanced to Wednesday’s title game against top-seeded and undefeated Palmer. The championship game is at 10 a.m., with the if-necessary scheduled for 1:30 p.m. It all goes down at Mulcahy Stadium.

Playing in the stadium is a big deal and guys like Johnson and Ivanoff and North Pole’s Chase Reed showed out.

Johnson allowed three hits, two walks and three runs, although only one was earned. He threw strikes and trusted his defense with 11 groundball outs, including a 6-4-3 double play in the second inning.

Ivanoff finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run. He ripped a single in the second inning and crushed a double din the fifth inning.

Conner Lowe also had two RBIs for South and Brown and Kellen Curtis each had one RBI.

This was a different North Pole team than the one that got beat up 16-2 by South Open in the first round of the tournament.

Reed wasn’t having that.

The do-everything all-star had a player-of-the-game type performance as he did everything he could hitting and pitching to extend his team’s season.

Reed went 3-for-4 with a double and run. He ripped his extra-base hit in the seventh with his team facing its final out. It was indicative to his will-to-win performance.

Reed also pitched, entering the game in relief and throwing beautifully in an ugly situation.  He struck out seven in 5.2 innings, with only two earned runs crossing the plate.

Gavin Fisher went 1-for-3 with an RBI and Wyatt Kammer also drove in a run.

State: Fink, Stolp lead West to win and spot in semis

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 27, 2020

On a West Eagles team stacked with big names it’s easy to get overshadowed, but Carter Stolp and Max Fink found a perfect way to get noticed.

They led West to its biggest win of the season.

Both players came up huge as the Eagles beat top-seeded Dimond 7-4 on Day 4 of the Alliance State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Stolp pitched 3.1 innings, drove in three runs and made an outstanding diving catch as a defensive replacement in center field.

Fink, a right-handed relief pitcher, recorded a six-out save to lock down the win and secure West a berth in Tuesday’s state semifinals by virtue of its second-place finish in the Denali pool with a 2-1 record.

West built a 5-0 lead early and then watched Dimond fight back to make it 5-4 by the sixth inning.

The Eagles scored two runs in the seventh inning on six combined walks by three Dimond pitchers, allowing West to tack on a couple insurance runs.

Having a three-run cushion probably helped Fink relax because he worked around a leadoff single to close out the game without much drama.

Stolp helped out his pitcher by robbing Ryan Henrickson of a hit when he made a diving catch. Stolp was only in the game at center because West’s Gold Glove Award center fielder was ejected in the sixth inning.

Stolp’s two-run single in the first inning pushed West’s lead to 3-0. In the fourth, Jones doubled to put runners at second and third. Jack Opinsky drove in one run with a chopper to second base and Jones scored the other on wild pitch to make it 5-0.

Dimond stormed back on the strength of extra-base hits.

In the fourth inning, Alex Wright’s RBI double set up a bases-loaded walk by Zach Jenkins that gave the Lynx their first run.

In the fifth inning, Logan Sweet doubled and scored on Wright’s second double of the night. Wright then scored on Adam Boyce’s single to pull Dimond within 5-3.

In the sixth inning, Jack Dolan tripled and scored on Sweet’s second double of the night to make it 5-4.

But later in the sixth, West cut down a base runner at the plate on Opinsky’s throw home to maintain a one-run lead.

Dimond shot itself in the foot in the seventh by issuing four consecutive walks by separate relievers, but Garrett Lick was a bright spot. He entered the game with the bases loaded and no outs and clean up the mess by striking out three of four batters he faced.

State: Eagle River survives wild game with Chugiak

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 27, 2020

Ryan Gray's run-scoring single in the fifth inning produced the go-ahead run that helped Eagle River rally to beat Chugiak 11-8 on Day 4 of the Alliance State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Both teams scored five runs in a wild fifth inning that saw momentum swing back and forth in a game that already featured two lead changes in the first two innings.

When the smoke cleared the Wolves were still standing and clinched the Alyeska pool with the win, moving to 3-0 in the tournament.

Eagle River has advanced to the state semifinals and will play Tuesday night at 5:30 p.m. Opponent TBD.

It was a crazy game, with 10 errors between the two teams.

Eagle River benefited from seven Chugiak miscues, usually on poor throws. The Wolves kicked the ball around a little as well but it was contained to just the fifth inning. It seemed to be just a hiccup.

Eagle River reliever Josh Thompson picked up the win in relief and closer Garren Henning collected a six-out save.

Gray finished 1-for-4 with three RBIs and a run. Thompson also had an RBI. They were the only players to drive in a run.

Braden Olmstead went 3-for-3 with a walk and three runs.

Chugiak's Riley Fugere and Austin Bull each had two RBIs.

Fugere's sac fly made helped Chugiak pull within 6-5 in the fifth inning and Bull's two-run single put Chugiak up 7-6 for the first time since the Mustangs led 2-0 after the top of the first inning.

Justin Nevells reached base four times, scored two runs and played his typical solid defense at shortstop. He also pitched, with seven of his 10 runs being unearned. It was just one of those days.

The victory was especially meaningful for first-year Eagle River head coach Bill Lierman, who beat his alma mater at the state tournament for the first time.

The Lierman family played an instrumental role in Chugiak's championship tradition in the 1990s and 2000s, with Bill Sr. leading the Mustangs to several state titles as coach and Bill Jr. winning even more championships as a player and coach.

It might take some time to get used to seeing Lierman in Eagle River colors, but seeing a Lierman-led team reach the state semifinals is something we’ve seen for decades.

Matson: Wild's Fischer strikes out 13 in 3-hit shutout

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 27, 2020

North Pole 8, Service 0

Gavin Fischer was fabulous on the mound as the North Pole Wild pitcher racked up a 3-hit complete-game shutout with 13 strikeouts in an 8-0 win over Service in the Matson Invitational at Bartlett High School.

Next up, Mulcahy Stadium.

The Wild will face South Open on Tuesday morning at Alaska’s most famous stadium, with the winner playing the Palmer Pioneers for the title Wednesday at Mulcahy.

Fischer turned in one of the greatest pitching performances in Matson Invitational history.

The right-hander retired nine of the final 10 batters and issued zero walks in an effort where he seemed to get stronger the longer the game went.

One of the hits he gave up was a double to leadoff hitter Henry Helgeson to start the game. Fischer allowed just two base runners the rest of the way.

North Pole broke open a scoreless with a four spot in the third inning.

The hitting stars were Alex Garcia (2-3, 3 runs, RBI), Kolten Hall (1-3, 3 RBIs, run) and Dustin Peterson (1-3, 2 RBIs).

The Wild are two-time Matson Invitational champions (2014, 2016) and placed third last season.

Bartlett 8, Fairbanks 7

Moments after saving a run to end the top half of the seventh inning and keep the score tied, the Bartlett Golden Bears beat the Fairbanks 49ers at the Matson Invitational.

Connor Sessoms was hit by a pitch to start the home half of the seventh inning. Then he stole second base. Then he scored on Eli Corwin’s game-winning base knock to end the Alliance Baseball League season on a high note.

Corwins and Sessoms wreaked havoc all day on Fairbanks pitching, going a combined 4-for-7 with five RBIs. Corwin was 2-4 and drove in three runs while Sessoms was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs.

Bartlett leadoff hitter Ian Byrd reached base three times on a single and two walks. He also scored two runs, stole two bases and had an RBI.

Blake Bacho was 2-for-3 with two runs in support of starting pitcher John Grantier, who allowed two runs over five innings of work.

Both teams battled in a game that featured four lead changes. Fairbanks took charge with a four-run second inning to go up 5-2.

Chris Luskleet went 3-for-4 with two runs and William Boswood was 2-for-3 for the 49ers.

Dylan Swarthout, Gus Jensen, Dominik Moore and Caden Davis each drove in runs for Fairbanks.

This was the final game of the season for both teams.

2020 Team of Excellence

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 27, 2020

TEAM OF EXCELLENCE

First Team

Starting Pitcher

#14 Jeremiah Eneix Dimond

#7 Jacob Gilbert Wasilla

#12 Landon Guggenmos Palmer

#12 Ryan Henrickson Dimond

#5 Noah Lower Eagle River

#7 Brock McCormick Juneau

#54 Josh McGovern South

#16 Lukas Wilkins South

#21 Leland Wilson West

#15 Gage Webster South

Relief Pitcher

#5 Andrew Buckendorf South

#55 Braden Olmstead Eagle River

#9 Chase Reed North Pole

Catcher

#10 Luke Langnes West

#10 Dylan Maltby South

#13 Brady Shults Palmer

#20 Max Wanser Wasilla

Utility

#5 Andrew Buckendorf South

#14 Henry Helgeson Service

#33 Tanner Ussing Kenai

Infielder

#4 Clayton Boyett Wasilla

#8 Reid Brock South

#21 Jacob Hulst East

#14 Mose Hayes Kenai

#51 Christian Ludeman Juneau

#22 Oliver Mendoza Juneau

#27 Justin Nevells Chugiak

#5 Jack Opinsky West

#21 Leland Wilson West

Outfielder

#39 Ian Frizelle Chugiak

#7 Jacob Gilbert Wasilla

#12 Ryan Henrickson Dimond

#27 Zach Jenkins Dimond

#13 Shawn Jones West

#10 Josh Thompson Eagle River

Coaches of the Year

Bill Lierman Eagle River

Dan Montaga Dimond

Ken Ottinger Wasilla

Willie Paul Service

Robb Quelland Kenai

Middleton wins raffle, 4 vouchers on Alaska Airlines

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 27, 2020

All Alliance Baseball League teams had the chance to participate and raise money toward team and individual fees through the raffle, which began in 2017.

Anchorage's Brent Middleton is the raffle winner of four Alaska Airlines vouchers.

 

Kara Moriarty of Alaska Oil and Gas Association drew the lucky winner.

 

All Alliance Baseball League teams had the chance to participate and raise money toward team and individual fees through the raffle, which began in 2017.

Eagle River, Wasilla, Chugiak win on Day 3 of State

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 26, 2020

Eagle River 8, South 4

Eagle River used a five-run first inning and five innings of solid relief from Ryan Gray to power an 8-4 victory over previously undefeated South on Day 3 of the Alliance State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

The Wolves moved to 2-0 in the Alyeska pool and positioned themselves to control their own destiny with one game left in pool play.

Orazio Ramos and Stefan Retzlaff each delivered two-run base hits in the first inning to get the party started for Eagle River. Braden Olmstead beat out a double-play relay to produce a run and extend the inning, which led to Retzlaff’s hit and a 5-0 lead.

Olmstead also played a key role in Eagle River’s two-run fifth inning that pushed the lead to 8-3. With runners on first and second, the Wolves called for a hit-and-run and Olmstead executed perfectly as his single scored Sterling Retzlaff from second base and sent Noah Lower from first to third base.

Lower started the game and pitched two innings before leaving because of pitch count, saving him for later. Exit Lower. Enter Gray, who immediately induced a double play before South struck for a couple of runs, keyed by Josh McGovern’s RBI double that pulled the Wolverines within 6-3.

We had a game now.

Neither team scored in the fourth inning. But Eagle River struck for a pair of runs in the fifth inning keyed by the hit-and-run and South got one back in the bottom half of the fifth on Brandt Hultberg’s second RBI of the night.

Credit Gray for getting it done out of the bullpen, scattering five hits and four walks and getting some nice defensive plays from Sterling Retzlaff at second base.

Eagle River and South have split their four games this season.

South reliever Gavin Partch (Class of 2023) was brought into the game in the first inning with his team trailing 5-0. Hardly ideal, but the young fella held his own and threw 4.1 innings of effective relief.

Catcher Josh Costello had a day, going 3-for-3 with a double, walk, stolen base, two runs and RBI. He also threw out a base runner trying to steal a bag.

McGovern reached base all four times on a double and three walks. 

South is off Monday as the Wolverines will have to watch the final game of the Alyeska pool between Eagle River and Chugiak.

Wasilla 3, Juneau 0

Bryce Frazier pitched a masterful 3-hit complete-game shutout to help Wasilla beat Juneau 3-0 and secure a spot in Tuesday’s semifinals of the Alliance State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

It was an economical effort for the right-hander, who needed just 80 pitches and allowed the Midnight Suns only two runners to reach second base.

Wasilla finished 3-0 to win the the Denali Pool and will enjoy a previously scheduled day off Monday before getting back to work Tuesday.

This was the second meeting of the season between these teams, with Wasilla winning both games by shutout. Juneau beat Wasilla 13-8 in last year’s state title game.

There would be no slugfest this time around. Frazier mixed up locations and had his breaking ball dancing all over the strike zone.

He threw off-speed and off-off-speed, shifting gears like nicely.

Ten of his 18 outs came on fly balls, with outfielders Jacob Hansen, Jacob Gilbert and Nolan Murphy staying busy.

Hansen made two fine catches, one near the wall in the first inning and another against the fence in the sixth inning.

All three of Wasilla’s runs came after the leadoff batter reached base. In the third inning, it was Logan Bailey. In the fourth inning, it was Waylon Payne. In the sixth inning it was Ty Dudley.

Gilbert’s RBI double made it 1-0. Hansen’s sac fly pushed the lead to 2-0. Max Wanser drove in the final run to make it 3-0.

Juneau starter Brock McCormick was strong during his five innings of work. He struck out five and allowed four hits and two runs before the bullpen coughed up another.

Reliever Isaiah Nelson cleaned up a bases-loaded no-out mess by allowing only one of the three inherited three runs to score.

Juneau managed only three hits by Porter Nelson, Luis Mojica and Christian Ludeman.

The Midnight Suns slipped to 1-2 at the state tournament will rely on tiebreakers to advance.

Chugiak 4, Kenai 3

Connor Lanehart smacked a sharp single to score Justin Nevells from third base with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning, lifting Chugiak to a 4-3 win over Kenai on Day 3 of the Alliance State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Nevells reached base to lead off the inning and stole second base before moving to third base on Riley Rugere’s single. That brought up Lanehart, who walked it off.

Nevells also picked up the win in relief of starter Zach Cole, who carried a 1-hit shutout into the seventh inning before settling for a no decision after Kenai scored three runs to tie the game at 3-3.

Cole’s only hiccup came in the seventh when he walked the first two batters he faced. Exit Cole. Enter Nevells, who didn’t pitch poorly, but credit the Twins for coming up clutch to tie the game.

Kenai came into this game with an 0-2 tournament record and trailed 3-0 going into its last at-bats. Rather than sulk, the Twins rose to the occasion.

Daltyn Deborski and Karl Wikstrom drew walks. Jacob Belger’s infield since scored Deborski. A sac fly by Mose Hayes scored Wikstrom to make it 3-2. And With two outs, Tanner Ussing laced a since to score Belger and tie the game.

Kenai looked to take the lead after Harrison Metz’s double put Ussing on third. Ussing had no chance to score because Chugiak did well to get the ball in quickly.

Nevells ended the threat with a strikeout, putting the Mustangs in position to win in the home half of the seventh.

This was the first time these teams have met at state since 2015 when Chugiak beat Kenai in the championship game.

Matson: Guggenmos, Alley lift Palmer into title game

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 26, 2020

Matson Invitational

Palmer 7, South Open 6

Luke Guggenmos scored the winning run with two outs in the sixth inning and relief pitcher Ben Alley recorded the final five outs, ending the game with a strikeout as Palmer beat South Open 7-6 to advance to the title game of the Matson Invitational.

The top-seeded Pioneers needed to score three times in the sixth inning to go back ahead in a winner's bracket game that featured four lead changes.

Guggenmos reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second base on a single by Brady Shults and then went to third base on a single by Brayden Methven. He scored on a wild pitch to put Palmer up 7-6.

Palmer will next play Wednesday at Mulcahy Stadium. There are still three others teams (North Pole, Service, South Open) still in the title hunt.

North Pole and Service will play a loser-out game Monday, with the winner playing South Open Tuesday to see who will play Palmer for the Matson championship Wednesday.

The title game will start at 10 a.m., with the if-necessary game at 1:30 p.m. at Mulcahy.

Alley was brought in as a relief pitcher in the sixth inning and walked to the first guy he faced to load the bases.

With one out, he gave up a fly ball that scored a run but the Pioneers got an out at second base to end the inning.

Alley also went 1-for-3 with two RBIs as seven different Palmer players banged out base hits. Shults and Sam Miller had RBIs.

South Open took a 4-2 lead in the third inning on RBI base hits by Grayson Shaw, AJ Sawicki and Reece Ivanoff.

In the sixth, South Open took a 6-4 lead on RBIs by Oliver Brown and Shaw.

Palmer scored twice in the second inning, getting one on a bases-loaded balk. Alley’s run-scoring double in the third inning tied the game at 4-4.

There was no score in the fourth and fifth innings before fireworks went off in a wild sixth inning.

Service 6, Bartlett 2

Service’s Sam Maudsley outdueled Bartlett’s Taylor McCart in a well-pitched game that took only 1 hour, 33 minutes to complete at Bartlett High School.

The Cougars prevailed 6-2 on the strength of Henry Helgeson’s bat, with the veteran outfielder going 2-for-4 and crushing his second home run of the tournament.

Maudsley and McCart both threw complete games and both had to get several extra outs because of errors that extended innings.

Maudsley scattered eight hits and struck out seven while also firing five shutout frames. McCart scattered seven hits and two walks while tossing three shutout innings.

Service’s Owen Hickman and Coen Niclai drove in runs, and Sean Giffen and Mason Bartley scored two runs.

Bartlett’s Eli Corwin went 2-for-3 and Luke Helgeson had an RBI and made a couple nice plays in left field.

Ian Byrd and Connor Sessoms scored runs, and Blake Bacho and Sessoms stroked back-to-back triples in the third inning.

South, Wasilla go to 2-0, Juneau wins first game at State

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 25, 2020

Day 2 scores: South crushes Kenai 15-1; Wasilla outlasts West 10-8; Juneau doubles up Dimond 4-2; Eagle and Chugiak had off days

Juneau 4, Dimond 2

Brock McCormick smashed a two-run single for the go-ahead runs and then pitched a two-out save as the Midnight Suns knocked off the Lynx at the Alliance State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

McCormick drove in Porter Nelson and Oliver Mendoza in the third inning to cap a three-run rally that put Juneau up for good at 3-1.

He reached base all three times with a double, single and walk.

If that wasn’t enough, McCormick retired a pair of Team of Excellence selections to end the game and move three-time defending state champion Juneau to 20-4 at the state tournament since 2017.

Starter Austin McCurley earned the win with 6.1 strong innings, allowing four hits and two runs.

Three times he worked around leadoff batters reaching base, inducing two fly balls and a pop up.

Both of these teams were coming off tough first-round losses and were playing to avoid a second loss in pool play.

Dimond scored an unearned run in the second inning after Jack Dolan walked and later made it to second on a poor pickoff attempt. He went to third on a flyball and scored on Jeremiah Eneix’s sac fly.

With Juneau leading 3-1 in the fourth inning, McCurley was on third and Millard on first when Juneau attempted a double steal. McCurley scored while the throw went down to second to get Millard. Trading runs for outs helped pushed the score to 4-1.

In the fifth inning, Juneau tried the same play but this time Dimond’s defense nailed the runner at home plate to save a run.

Then in the bottom half of the fifth, Dimond's No. 9 hitter Adam Boyce worked a two-out walk after falling behind 0-2. He scored on Ryan Henrickson’s RBI double to make it 4-2.

In the seventh inning, Dimond shortstop Zach Jenkins executed a Jeter-like unassisted double play after he fielded a ground ball, stepped on the bag and then fired a strike to first base while jumping over the sliding base runner.

After losing just four games in two months this season, 20-win Dimond has now lost on back-to-back nights. Baseball can fill your heart with joy – and then rip it out, all in a matter of a few weeks.

South 15, Kenai 1

For the second day in a row, the South Wolverines put up a crooked number in the first inning to carry them to victory at the Alliance State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Yesterday, it was a six-spot. Today, it was a seven-spot – and they did it twice.

No. 2 South never gave No. 7 Kenai a chance, pounding out 12 hits en route to a 15-1 win in five innings on Day 2 of the six-day tournament.

South is 2-0 with ace Gage Webster having not even pitched yet.

He is still in the lineup and crushed a two-run home run in the first inning – his second two-run bomb at Mulcahy this week. Webster finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs.

Dylan Maltby stayed red-hot with his third extra-base hit in two days, stroking a double as part of a 3-for-4 performance.

Then there was Andrew Buckendorf (2-4, 3RBI), Reid Brock (2-3, 3 runs), Josh McGovern (2-3, 3 RBIs) and so on.

South pitchers Josh McGovern and Ben Neuberger combined on a 3-hitter.

Wasilla 10, West 8

Jacob Gilbert and Waylon Payne each drove in three runs as the No. 5 Road Warriors beat No. 4 West on Day 2 of the Alliance State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Wasilla managed only six hits but benefited from 12 walks and five hit batsmen.

Jacob Hansen and Logan Bailey each scored three runs. Andre Brown had two RBIs.

Hard to believe this game was 1-0 after three innings. Both teams batted around in the fourth inning and the score ballooned.

It seemed like the bases were always loaded as both teams left 15 runners on base.

West’s Luke Langnes drove in three runs and Shawn Jones, Leland Wilson, Eli Seaver and Carter Stolp each scored twice.

The Eagles tied the game at 7-7 in the fifth inning before Wasilla got RBI doubles from Bailey and Gilbert to put the Road Warriors ahead for good.

Matson: Hebert hits two home runs to power South Open

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 25, 2020

Matson Invitational

South Open 5, Bartlett 2

Curtis Hebert hit solo home runs in the first and seventh inning to power South Open to a 5-2 win over Bartlett in the Matson Invitational at Bartlett High School.

The catcher hits No. 2 in the batting order and became the first player in Matson history to hit two dingers in the same game.

Connor Lowe added an RBI and Isaac Johnson scored the tying run in the fourth inning to make it 2-2.

Bartlett's Connor Sessoms and Taylor McCart each drove in runs for the Golden Bears.

Bartlett starter Blake Bacho pitched well in defeat, striking out seven and allowing just two runs in 6.2 innings.

South Open scored three runs with two outs off relievers in the seventh inning.

South's Kellen Curtis singled and eventually scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch to make it 3-2.

Hebert then hit his second bomb to push the lead to 4-2.

North Pole 12, Fairbanks 4

The North Pole Wild had an incredible inning for the ages, with 10 straight batters reaching base to fuel a nine-run rally in the fourth during Day 2 of the tournament.

Trailing 4-3 with two outs, Brian Green hit a singled to get the party started. After that Logan Fischer walked, Chase Reed was hit by a pitch, Alex Garcia singled, Dustin Peterson was hit by a pitch, Kolten Hall doubled, Wyatt Kammer singled, Gavin Fischer singled, Brayden Grorud doubled and Green reached on an error.

Dream scenario for the Wild, nightmare scenario for the 49ers.

It wasn't all bad for the 49ers.

Fairbanks scored four runs in the first inning, keyed by Chris Luskleet's two-out, two-run base knock. In the fifth, Fairbanks right fielder Dylan Swarthout threw out a runner at home plate trying to score on a flyball.

North Pole starter Alex Garcia settled down nicely after that rocky start. He finished with seven strikeouts in 4.2 innings and didn't allow a base hit after the first inning.

Hall finished with four RBIs for the Wild.

Pulsifer returns to field after being struck by ball in eye

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 25, 2020

Longtime North Pole Wild manager Ray Pulsifer on Friday returned to the field to coach his team at the Matson Invitational, just two days after being stuck by a ball in the eye at practice.

He back was with his team for Friday’s game, sporting a patch over his right eye and a nasty back-and-blue bruise on his left eye.

Doctors told him his vision in his right eye could return slowly over the next month.

Or it might not return at all.

“Scared a little,” Pulsifer said. “Hoping for a good outcome.”

Pulsifer suffered the injury Wednesday when he was on the field for batting practice at Bartlett High School. With no L screen available, he threw from just in front of the mound and was struck by a batted ball.

“Perfect live drive,” he said. “No time to react. Straight to my right eye.”

He was taken immediately to JBER hospital, where he underwent surgery and was kept overnight.

While there, though, his thoughts remained with his players.

From his hospital bed, he actually apologized for missing a coach’s meeting to select the Team of Excellence. Even with his vision in jeopardy, he was still sticking up for his players.

“Worried my guys will not be considered,” he said.

Pulisfer was discharged from the hospital on Friday afternoon and joined the Wild for their game Friday night against South Open. He stayed in the dugout and kept score.

East removed from Matson Invitational

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 25, 2020

Just one day after an East junior varsity coach tested positive for COVID, the varsity team was pulled off the field for the remainder of the season.

The East T-birds have been removed from the Matson Invitational.

 

Just one day after an East junior varsity coach tested positive for COVID, the varsity team was pulled off the field for the remainder of the season.

 

The JV coach who tested positive had been in a dugout with the East varsity team within the last few days. In addition, players were in the same vehicle with the coach. 

 

With an abundance of caution, the Alliance made the decision to remove the East team from the Matson Invitational.

 

The JV coach is the first positive case in two months of play for the 29-team league.

Wilson has 16 Ks, Gilbert racks up 13 on Day 1 of State

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 24, 2020

Sensational southpaw Leland Wilson of West pitched a 2-hit shutout and racked up 16 strikeouts as the Eagles prevailed 3-0 over defending champion Juneau on Day 1 of the Alliance State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Wilson was lights out from the jump as he worked fast, mixed speeds and moved location. He had five strikeouts looking and fanned four in the seventh inning.

As good as his pitching was, Wilson’s most memorable moment actually came on defense when he used his glove to slap the ball to first baseman Ivan Tillman to get the runner by a half step.

The play developed with a slow roller up the line and rather than field the ball – or wait to see if it would roll foul – Wilson reached out and slapped the ball to Tillman.

On another play, he covered first base on a ground ball to the first baseman and when Tillman tossed the ball underhand to Wilson, he caught the ball with his bare hand rather than his glove.

Wilson’s glove was optional. Same could be said for the guys behind him who watched the Texas Tech University signee mow down the Midnight Suns in impressive fashion.

Wilson’s 16 strikeouts are the most for a West pitcher since Dalton Chapman recorded a Cook Inlet Conference record 19 strikeouts in 2014. The state tournament record is 21 Ks held by Kenai’s Marshall Boze set in 1988.

Chapman and Boze went nine innings; Wilson went seven.

Wilson struck out six of the first nine batters and seven of the final 11.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder issued four walks and hit one batter. But nobody reached as far as third base.

Third baseman Quinn Bates-Janigo drove in two of the three runs, first with an RBI groundout in the fourth inning and then a bases-loaded walk in the fifth inning.

Jack Opinsky had the other RBI after he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Tillman missed a home run by only a few feet as he crushed one off the left-field wall.

Despite managing only two hits and not making much contact off Wilson, Juneau brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning.

Juneau starter Garrett Bryant struck out seven over four strong innings, allowing just one hit and one run.

This was only the fourth loss for Juneau in 19 games at the state tournament since 2017.

South 7, Chugiak 6

Josh Costello and Reid Brock pitched 3.2 innings of shutout relief to shut the door and help the Wolverines survive on Day 1 of the Alliance State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

South led 7-1 after two innings and hung on for dear life after Chugiak charged back to make the final few innings nail-biting time.

Dylan Maltby reached base all four times on a triple, double and two walks. He also had an RBI and run for the Wolverines.

Teammate Grant Heikkila drove in two runs while Gage Webster, Josh McGovern and Brandt Hultberg each had one RBI.

Costello worked two innings before giving way to Brock, who got the final five outs to record the save.

Chugiak’s Zach Cole had two RBIs and Hunter Rau doubled and scored a run.

Justin Nevells struck out five batters in three innings of shutout relief.

Eagle River 5, Kenai 1

Josh Thompson went 3-for-3, scored the winning run and picked up the win in relief as the Wolves won this first-round matchup at the Alliance State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

This was Eagle River's first postseason win over Kenai since 2012.

With two outs in the fifth inning, Thompson got a rally started with a base hit. With the hit-and-run on, Ryan Gray singled to move Thompson to third.

Braden Olmstead smashed one to third base, where the infielder did well to get in front of the ball but a slight bobble allowed Olmstead to reach base and Thompson to score the tie-breaking run.

Orazio Ramos added a two-run single to top off the three-run breakout.

In the sixth inning, Eagle River tacked on another insurance run when Cam Witte walked and eventually came around to score after he stole third and the throw deflected away, allowing him to cruise home to make it 5-1.

Kenai had a tough day. Not only did Mose Hayes pitch well enough to win, but the Twins stranded the bases loaded in the first inning and had a runner thrown out at home in the fifth inning on an Olmstead to Connor Johnson to Witte relay.

Hayes went the distance, scattering seven hits and allowing only one earned run. He struck out four.

Wasilla 2, Dimond 0

The only thing that could stop Wasilla's Jacob Gilbert was the pitch count.

The right-hander struck out 13 batters in 6.2 innings to lead the No. 5 Road Warriors to a 2-0 win over No. 1 Dimond in the first round of the Alliance State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Gilbert had to exit the game with two outs in the seventh inning after he reached the 105-pitch max. He finished with 107 because the rules allow you to finish the at-bat once you reach the limit.

Even though he lost out on an official shutout, his performance was shutout-worthy

Gilbert was great, especially when he got a strikeout to end a bases-loaded threat in the third inning.

He was also good in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings when he recorded two strikeouts each inning.

In the fourth inning Gilbert was part of a strike-‘em-out, throw-‘em-out double play after catcher Max Wanser threw out a base runner at second.

Gilbert retired nine of the final 10 batters he faced before giving way to reliever Logan Bailey, who ended the game with a strikeout to earn the save.

Gilbert also kickstarted Wasilla’s offense after singling to lead off the first inning. Andre Brown moved him to second with a sac bunt and Nolan Murphy's single drove in Gilbert to make it 1-0 three batters into the game.

Brown and Murphy also contributed to the second Wasilla run. Brown doubled and then raced home on Murphy’s single, outrunning the ball on a good throw by Dimond left fielder Jack Dolan and just beating the tag on a close play at the plate.

Dimond pitchers Ryan Henrickson and Eric Galosich threw the ball well enough to win on most nights – the Lynx just ran into a buzz saw.

Henrickson settled down nicely after a bumpy beginning, striking out seven and allowing just three hits over 4.1 innings. Galosich gave up only two hits and one run in 2.2 innings of work.

Matson: East, Bartlett, South Open start with wins

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 24, 2020

Matson Invitational

Game 1

East 14, Service 5

All nine East starters scored a run and the trio of Gavin Oakley, Jacob Hulst and Bryce Erickson combined for 10 RBIs as the T-birds flew away with this first-round win.

Oakley went 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Hulst and Erickson each drove in three runs.

Zach Barnhart scored three runs and pitched in the game as well.

Service's Henry Helgeson finished 2-for-3 and crushed a home run in the fifth inning.

Game 2

Bartlett 15, Fairbanks 1

Carl Colavecchio and Eli Corwin each drove in a pair of runs to lead the charge in an offensive assault for the Golden Bears in a first-round win at the Matson Invitational.

Corwin went 3-for-3 and Colavecchio ripped a double.

Luke Helgeson scored three runs, banged out two hits and doubled.

Bartlett pitchers Taylor McCart and Luke Helgeson combined on a 2-hitter.

Game 3

South Open 16, North Pole 2

Oliver Brown pitched five innings to get the win and drove in three runs as South Open defeated North Pole 16-2 on Day of the Matson Invitational.

Brown finished 3-for-5 with a double.

Kellen Curtis doubled, tripled and scored five runs.

Connor Lowe and Isaac Johnson each had 2 RBIs for the Wolverines.

The North Pole players might have something on their mind. A few days ago, Wild coach Ray Pulsifer was struck in the eye with a ball at practice and was taken to JBER hospital.

Our thoughts are with you, coach.

Alliance League JV coach has tested positive for COVID

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 24, 2020

An Alliance Baseball League junior varsity coach has tested positive for COVID.

This is the first positive test in two months of play for the 29-team league.

The coach notified league officials Friday afternoon that he had contracted the virus and currently is in quarantine.

The team’s players will need to be tested or quarantined for 14 days, showing no symptoms before returning to the field.

All games scheduled for the team have been canceled until further notice.

The coach was last with his team three days ago at Bartlett High School.

To comply with the Municipality-approved mitigation plan, all facilities used by individuals with positive case of COVID-19 will shut down for 72 hours to allow for natural deactivation of the virus.

That means today’s final two games of the varsity Matson Invitational at Bartlett High School have been moved to Kosinski Fields. In addition, the facility at Bartlett High School will be sanitized.

All of the junior varsity games scheduled for Friday have been canceled.

Webster clubs 2-run bomb, All-Star Game ends in 2-2 tie

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 22, 2020

In a game people will remember for a long time, the Alliance American Division All-Stars broke up a no-hitter and then broke the hearts of the Legion Legends with a stunning comeback to earn a 2-2 tie at Mulcahy Stadium.

The Alliance All-Stars trailed 2-0 and had no hits entering the seveth inning as they faced former MLB draft pick Corey Madden, who struck out the side in the previous inning of work.

A comeback looked impossible.

But South’s Oliver Brown and Gage Webster had other ideas.

Brown broke up the no-hitter with a leadoff single to center field and with two outs Webster came to the plate for his first at-bat of the game.

Webster, a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder headed to the University of Utah, crushed an opposite-field, two-run homer over the left-field wall to tie the game in an only-in-a-dream type ending.

Madden – the 2003 Alaska Legion State Tournament MVP – struck out the final hitter to give the hard-throwing right-hander six strikeouts in two innings.

The former St. Mary’s star is one of eight Alaskans to play as high as the Triple-A level and looked the part, throwing the ball well and dominating the strike zone.

Credit Webster for putting a good swing on the ball. After the game, Webster and Madden exchanged a COVID-inspired celebration of tapping cleats at home plate in a cool gesture of sportsmanship.

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That was the vibe all week – competitive but chill.

 

The Legends pitching staff came out firing, with flamethrower Johnny Meszaros starting it off with an OMG-type first inning. The 25-year-old pro prospect was the hardest thrower among the two dozen pitchers to throw in the two-game series, topping out in the mid-to-high 90s.

The former MLB draft pick racked up two strikeouts and dribbler to first base. The crowd cheered when Service’s Henry Helgeson managed to foul off a fastball.

Legends relievers Garrett Brown (Pacific Lutheran), Joe Fitka (Chicago State) and Parker Johnson (Indiana Wesleyan) carried the no-hitter for another three innings.

In fifth inning, Dalton Chapman (Grand Canyon) had two strikeouts and benefitted from catcher Jonny Homza making a pro’s throw to nail Bartlett's Blake Bacho trying to steal second base.

Homza, 20, a 2017 fifth-round MLB draft pick of the San Diego Padres, went from sensational shortstop in high school to a catcher as a pro. With one throw down to second, he showed why. His throw to second base was perfect. Like, the-infielder-didn’t-have-to-move-his-glove good.

Madden struck out the side in the sixth to carry the no-hitter into the seventh inning.

Meanwhile, the Alliance All-Stars pitchers held their own. Sure, they didn’t throw a combined shutout like the National Division All-Stars but the American Division All-Stars carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning.

Palmer’s Ben Alley started the game and worked around two walks, thanks to South catcher Dylan Maltby, who gunned down Legends base runner Adam Manzer (Sonoma State) with a one-hop bullet to second.

American Division All-Stars.jpg

Bartlett’s Taylor McCart and Kenai’s Sam Berry kept it going. Berry got some help from his Twins teammates Tanner Ussing to get out of the third inning after Ussing smothered a low throw with his body, first knocking down the ball and then scrambling to pick it up.

The Legends finally broke through in the fourth inning, ending a 10-inning scoreless streak dating to last night’s game. Tom Bowe (Plattsburgh State) led off with a walk and then went first to third on a wild pitch. He scored on A.J. Hull’s RBI groundout.

Service’s Sam Maudsley and East’s Zack Barnhart each worked scoreless innings as the score stayed 1-0 going into the top of the seventh inning. With one, Homza doubled to deep center and was replaced by pinch-runner Taylor Nerland.

After two walks pushed Nerland to third base, Hull – the 2012 Alaska Legion State Tournament MVP – knocked in his second RBI of the game to make it 2-0.

American Division All-Stars 2,

Legion Legends 2, tie

LEGION LEGENDS

Manzer 0-3 walk

WHomza 0-1 2 walks

Pigg 0-1

JHomza 1-3 double walk

KMadden 0-2

Mascelli 0-1

Arend 0-0 walk

Bowe 0-1 run walk

Woodall 0-0 2 walks

Hull 1-4 2 RBIs

Maxwell 0-1 walk

Costello 0-2

Ridley 0-1

Reed 0-0 walk

CMadden 0-1 walk

Klancher 0-1

Nerland 0-0 run

AMERICAN ALL-STARS

Hayes 0-2

Hulst 0-1

Brown 1-3 run

Helgeson 0-2 walk

Maltby 0-2

Witte 0-1

Ussing 0-2

Webster 1-1 HR 2 RBIs

Bacho 0-2 walk

Hebert 0-2

Guggenmos 0-1

Byrd 0-1

Oakley 0-1

Stiles 0-1

Legion Legends     000 100 1 - 2 2 0

American All-Stars 000 000 2 - 2 2 1

LEGION LEGENDS

Meszaros 1ip 0h 0r 0bb 2k

GBrown 1ip 0h 0r 0bb 1k

Fitka 1ip 0h 0r 0bb 2k

Johnson 1ip 0h 0r 1bb 1k

Chapman 1ip 0h 0r 1bb 2k

CMadden 1ip 2h 2r 0bb 6k

AMERICAN ALL-STARS

Alley 1ip 0h 0r 2bb 0k

McCart 1ip 0h 0r 0bb 0k

Berry 1ip 0h 0r 3bb 0k

Watson 1ip 0h 1er 2bb 1k

Maudsley 1ip 0h 0r 0bb 2k

Barnhart 1ip 1h 0r 2bb 0k

OBrown 1ip 1h 1er 2bb 0k

National All-Stars combine for 3-hitter, beat Legends 4-0

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 21, 2020

Pitching and defense was the winning recipe and the young guys ate it up.

Seven Alliance Baseball League pitchers combined for a 3-hitter and Dimond’s Ryan Henrickson scored the first two runs as the National Division All-Stars beat the Legion Legends 4-0 at Mulcahy Stadium.

West’s Leland Wilson, Chugiak's Zach Cole, North Pole's Alex Garcia and Gavin Fischer, Dimond's Jeremiah Eneix, Juneau's Brock McCormick and Wasilla's Jacob Gilbert combined for the shutout.

2020 Alliance National All-Stars.jpg

Wilson, Cole, Eneix and Gilbert worked 1-2-3 innings and McCormick escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the fifth inning before Chugiak shortstop Justin Nevells made the defensive play of the night.

With runners at first and second, former South star Max Costello looped one to short, where Nevells lunged to make the catch and then full-on dived to tag out another former South star in Parker Johnson.

Henrickson was the first Alliance All-Star to reach base when he walked in the third inning. He went to third base on an error and scored the game’s first run on an infield single by West’s Shawn Jones

In the fifth inning, Hendrickson led off with a single went to second base after Garcia was hit by a pitch. He scored on an RBI single to left field by Nevells to make it 2-0. Credit Hendrickson for getting a good jump and good read on the ball to beat the throw home by a step.

Nevells made it 3-0 that same inning after racing home during a rundown with Jones, who did his job by surviving and extending the rundown long enough to give Nevells time to book it home.

In the sixth inning, Dimond’s Zach Jenkins singled and later scored on Garcia’s bases-loaded walk. That made it 4-0.

Pitching and defense dominated, with a bunch of goose eggs and three double plays. The Legends turned pair of twin killings, including a nice Johnson-Nick Ridley turn in the fourth inning that helped Wasilla’s James Arend wiggle out of two-on, no-out jam.

Former East southpaw Anton Maxwell pitched the first two innings and straight up dominated. The former Pac-10 star from Oregon State had two strikeouts and two comebackers.

But maybe the best two pitching performances were by young guns Wilson and Gilbert.

Wilson, the lanky lefty out of West who is headed to Texas Tech University, retired three Cook Inlet Conference Players of the Decade for the 2010s – a modern day murder’s row of Adam Manzer, Willy Homza and Jonny Homza.

Wilson got a groundout and back-to-back Ks looking.

Hey, now!

Gilbert, a hard-throwing righty out of Wasilla who is headed to Iowa Lakes Community College finished the game with a filthy seventh. He changed arm angles, mixed up speeds and went strikeout, groundout, strikeout to seal the deal.

Twice, Gilbert sat down batters on three pitches. Good morning, good afternoon and good night.

The Alliance American Division All-Stars will face these same Legion Legends on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Mulcahy Stadium.

National Division All-Stars 4, Legion Legends 0

LEGION LEGENDS

Manzer 1-3 double

WHomza 0-3

JHomza 0-3

Bowe 0-2

Chapman 0-1

Johnson 1-2 walk

KMadden 1-2

Nance 0-2

Hull 0-0 walk, stolen base

Costello 0-1

Ridley 0-2

NATIONAL ALL-STARS

Nevells 1-4 run, RBI, 2 stolen bases

Jones 1-3 RBI

Langnes 0-2

Wanser 0-1

Ludeman 2-3

Murphy 1-1 run

Jenkins 1-1 run walk

Bull 0-2 walk

Mendoza 0-3

Henrickson 1-1 2 runs, 2 walks

Peterson 0-1

Garcia 0-0 RBI walk hit by pitch

Legion Legends     000 000 0 - 0 3 2

National All-Stars   001 021 x - 4 6 0

LEGION LEGENDS

Maxwell 2ip 0h 0r 0bb 2k

Jesse 1ip 1h 1r 0er 1bb 2k

Arend 1ip 1h 0r 0bb 1k

Woodall 1ip 2h 2r 1er 0bb 1k

Pigg 1ip 2h 1r 1er 3bb 1k

NATIONAL ALL-STARS

Wilson 1ip 0h 0r 0bb 2k

Cole 1ip 0h 0r 1bb 0k

Garcia 1ip 0h 0r 1bb 0k

Eneix 1ip 0h 0r 0bb 1k

McCormick 1ip 2h 0r 0bb 0k

Fischer 1ip 1h 0r 0bb 1k

Gilbert 1ip 0h 0r 0bb 2k

All-Star Games will be greatest collection of Alaska talent

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 21, 2020

The greatest collection of Alaska baseball talent ever assembled on one field will take place at Mulcahy Stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday nights when the Legion Legends face off against the Alliance All-Stars.

It’s the best players from the past against the best players from today in a unique two-game series to showcase Alaska baseball.

“I’m excited to play,” said former Service star Jake Ridley. “I have a lot of great memories with the guys on my team. I'm most looking forward to the whole atmosphere of Mulcahy. As far as baseball in Alaska, nothing beats Mulcahy Stadium.”

First pitch each night comes at 6:30 p.m.

There will be five MLB draft picks on the field in Jonny Homza (2017), Corey Madden (2006), Anton Maxwell (2007), Levi Robinson (2002) and Johnny Meszaros. (2013).

Six Gatorade Player of the Year recipients in Leland Wilson (2020), Jacob Woodall (2019), Homza (2016, 2017), Adam Manzer (2011), Maxwell (2003) and Madden (2001).

You want State Tournament MVPs? There are five; Taylor Reed (2002), Madden (2003), Maxwell (2004), Trevor Harrison (2005) and A.J. Hull (2012).

Four Cook Inlet Conference Players of the Year in Dalton Chapman (2014), Willy Homza (2015), Jonny Homza (2017) and Woodall (2019).

Five Gold Gloves Award winners in Ridley (2012), Parker Johnson (2017), Danny Mascelli (1997), Julito Frazzini (2015) and Jeremy Wylie (2000).

Big Sticks? We got Kyle Madden (1999), Garrett Brown (2012) and Willie Paul (2007).

There are Top Pitcher Award selections Brody Jessee (2019), Nick Nading (2005) and Raleigh Pigg (2016).

Throw in Matson Invitational MVP Ronan Klancher (2015) and State JV Tournament MVP Max Costello (2014).

And, finally, all-state studs Taylor Nerland (2000), Louis Nance (2006), Tommy Koloski (2016), Joe Fitka (2014), Tom Bowe (2014), James Arend (2018) and Alex Alvarez (2019).

Fitka played at Chicago State University is one of six Alaskans to throw a 9-inning complete game at the NCAA D1 level.

These are some of the biggest names in Alaska baseball dating to the 1990s.

Legion Legends.jpg

Mascelli, 41, will be among the oldest players on the field.

“At my age, I feel honored to play with all these young players, majority that I have coached or coached against,” said the former Bartlett star. “From when I moved up to Alaska and started playing in 1996, playing with, watching, coaching these players and now to have an all-star game with the different decades is a real cool thing for Alaska baseball.”

The Legion Legends are managed by longtime Alaska Baseball Academy coach Tony Wylie, who selected which former players would participate.

Former South star Parker Johnson hasn’t played in a baseball game since March when COVID stopped his season at Indiana Wesleyan University.

“I’m looking forward to getting back on the field and I think everyone else is too because for most of us it’s been quite a while since we played in a game,” he said. “I think the environment will be laid back but competitive; everyone is just gonna enjoy being back out on the field and playing the game we all share a love for.”

Who is the player most guys are excited to see play in person?

“Well, the obvious is Jonny Homza,” Mascelli said.

Homza, 20, was a fifth-round draft pick in 2017 by the San Diego Padres. Taken 138th overall, he is the second-highest draft pick from Alaska.

Homza is playing his best baseball right now. With Class-A Tri-City of the Northwest League, Homza caught a no-hitter and hit a grand slam for his first playoff hit. Then he went to the Australian Baseball League and became the first Auckland Tuatara batter to go 5-for-5 in a game on his way to hitting a career-best .287 in 39 games.

Homza has made a terrific transition from the infield to behind the plate and shown patience and polish at the dish, with his .328 career on-base percentage ranking sixth all-time among Alaskans to play pro ball.

In terms of pitching, the most anticipated player people want to see is 25-year-old rocket right-hander Johnny Meszaros, who throws in the upper 90s. The former MLB draft pick has the makeup of a pro pitcher. Think Gerrit Cole.

In March, Meszaros flew to Florida and had a successful tryout with the Houston Astros organization. But then COVID hit and shut down everything, leaving Meszaros to have to wait for next year.

Still, even for a guy flirting with a pro career, Meszaros still gets a little giddy when he thinks about being on the field with the greatest collection of Alaska baseball talent every assembled.

“Being on a team with guys you grew up hearing about and playing against is a unique experience I’m happy to be a part of,” he said. “I’m looking forward to playing the current all-star players and seeing how they go about the game. It’ll be fun.”

Alliance League All-Star Team announced

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 18, 2020

The Alliance League All-Star Team will take on the former Legion Legends at Mulcahy Stadium. National Division plays Tuesday; American Division plays Wednesday. First pitch is 6:30pm both nights.

Here is the 2020 Alliance League All-Star Team that will take on a squad of former Legion Legends next week at Mulcahy Stadium. The National Division plays Tuesday and the American Division plays Wednesday. First pitch is 6:30pm both nights.

 

2020 Alliance League All-Star Team 


National Division All-Stars

National Division vs. Former Legion Legends / Tuesday
6:30pm @ Mulcahy


Pitchers
#33 Joshua Bronson Fairbanks
#1 Zak Cole Chugiak
#14 Jerimiah Eneix Dimond
#14 Gavin Fischer North Pole
#7 Jacob Gilbert Wasilla
#7 Brock McCormick Juneau
#21 Leland Wilson West


Position Players
#22 Austin Bull INF Chugiak
#23 Alex Garcia INF/OF North Pole
#12 Ryan Henrickson OF Dimond
#27 Zach Jenkins OF Dimond
#24 Gus Jensen OF Fairbanks
#13 Shawn Jones OF West
#10 Luke Langnes C West
#51 Christian Ludeman INF Juneau
#22 Oliver Mendoza INF Juneau
#28 Nolan Murphy OF Wasilla
#27 Justin Nevells INF Chugiak
#20 Dustin Peterson C/INF North Pole
#11 Isaac Roehl INF Fairbanks
#20 Max Wanser C Wasilla

 

American Division All-Stars

American Division vs. Former Legion Legends / Wednesday
6:30pm @ Mulcahy


Pitchers
#1 Ben Alley Palmer
#4 Zack Barnhart East
#3 Sam Berry Kenai
#23 Sam Maudsley Service
#49 Taylor McCart Bartlett
#56 Ryan Watson South Open
#15 Gage Webster South


Position Players
#8 Blake Bacho C/INF Bartlett
#8 Reid Brock INF South
#26 Oliver Brown INF South Open
#31 Ian Byrd INF/OF Bartlett
#20 Damien Fredericks INF Eagle River
#30 Corey Gagnebin INF East
#4 Luke Guggenmos OF Palmer
#14 Mose Hayes INF Kenai
#9 Curtis Hebert INF South Open
#14 Henry Helgeson INF/OF Service
#21 Jacob Hulst INF East
#10 Dylan Maltby C/INF South
#13 Brady Shults C Palmer
#22 Hutton Stiles OF Service
#33 Tanner Ussing C/INF Kenai
#6 Cam Witte C Eagle River

Thursday Night Special: Service survives Palmer scare

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 16, 2020

Sam Maudsley carried a shutout into the seventh inning and picked up the win to keep alive Service's hopes at earning a state tournament wild card berth after a 5-3 win over Palmer in a Thursday Night Special broadcast at Mulcahy Stadium.

Mason Bartley had two hits, Coen Niclai scored two runs and closer Jake Rafferty got the final two outs for the Cougars (8-13, 4-5), who moved into fourth place in the Alliance League’s American Division.

Maudsley was marvelous during his 6.1-inning stint, scattering six hits and five walks to put him in position to earn his first complete game of the season. Getting a shutout would have icing on the cake.

It didn’t happen as the right-hander tired in the seventh inning as his pitch count neared triple digits. Palmer’s Bryant Marks walked, Evan Walker singled, Luke Guggenmos tripled and Brayden Methven hit a sharp groundout to pull the Pioneers within 5-3 and chase Maudsley from the game.

Enter Rafferty, who danced around two runners in scoring position to record his first save.

Credit Service for battling against Palmer starter Anthony Jones, who pitched well over his 4.1 innings. The Cougars managed three runs off Jones but just two base hits.

Service leadoff hitter Niclai was the consummate table setter with a double and two walks.

He smacked a two-bagger in the gap to get the first inning started and was moved to second base on a sac bunt before scoring on Owen Hickman’s RBI groundout.

In the third inning, Niclai led off with a walk, stole second base and later scored on an error. That made it 2-0.

Service tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning, thanks in part to Bartley’s double just inside the third-base line off Palmer reliever Keagan Norman. Bartley came around to score after the next batter reached after a two-out error allowed the second run to score, extending the lead to 4-0.

That looked like an insurmountable lead against Maudsley, who stepped up in critical situations many times. He also got a nice 6-4-3 double play to end the third inning, thanks to a nice scoop from first baseman Chris Duke.

Maudsley got out of two-on, one-out jams in each of fourth and fifth innings and earned his fourth strikeout in the sixth inning.

Palmer (10-9, 3-5) just never got it going. Early on, the Pioneers were swinging at first pitches like they had a plane to catch.  

Still, they managed to get the leadoff batter on base in each of the first five innings, which is baseball’s recipe for success. But Palmer couldn’t get anything cooking.

Walker was the only one who had it going; the left fielder was 3-for-4 while the rest of the team was 4-for-22 on the night.

Game of the Week: Wasilla's Gilbert throws 2-hit shutout

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 15, 2020

The Jacob Gilbert Show took over the Alliance League Game of the Week broadcast at Mulcahy Stadium.

The rocket right-hander was must-see TV as he threw a 2-hit complete-game shutout for Wasilla in a 4-0 win over Juneau in a rematch of last year’s state tournament championship game.

Gilbert (4-1) racked up eight strikeouts and retired 12 of the final 13 batters to lower his season ERA to 0.58 in 35.2 innings.

He was uncharacteristically wild at times, probably a result of being overly charged up in this marquee matchup. Who could blame him? This was the first time he had faced Juneau since last year’s state title game when he gave up eight runs in a no decision.

This time was different. Sure, it’s different Juneau team. But this was also a different Gilbert.

Mixing in a high-hard fastball and a knee-bucking breaking ball, he danced out of trouble early and dominated late.

Gilbert worked around a single and walk in the first inning; two hit batsman and a walk in the second inning; and a walk and hit batsman in the third inning.

He teamed up with second baseman Andre Brown for a beautifully executed pick off to help Wasilla squash a two-on, no-outs jam in the second inning.

Gilbert took matters into his own hands the rest of the way, working around a single and HBP to Brennan Ludeman, who was the only Juneau player to reach base after the third inning. He threw 100 pitches.

Gilbert’s strikeout-to-walk ratio is now 56-5 on the season.

Wasilla (17-4, 6-3) scored two runs in the top of the first inning, thanks in part to a perfectly executed hit-and-run with Waylon Payne hitting and Jacob Hansen running. Hanson went from first to third on Payne’s base hit and never stopped as he rounded third after the Juneau outfielder misplayed the ball.

Calvin Stoll’s two-out RBI single made it 2-0. Gilbert walked and later scored in the fifth inning to make it 3-0. Max Wanser’s sac fly pushed the lead to 4-0 in the sixth inning.

Juneau (1-4, 0-2) made two web gems when center fielder Porter Nelson made a nice over-the-shoulder catch near the 410-foot sign in the third inning and second baseman Preston Williams made a diving catch on a line drive to save a run in the fifth inning.

Tuesday Night Baseball:Eagle River stays hot with 8-2 win

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 14, 2020

Josh Thompson dominated out of the bullpen and Damien Fredrick drove in four RBIs as Eagle River beat East 8-2 on the Tuesday Night Baseball broadcast at Mulcahy Stadium.

The Wolves (12-8, 6-2) have won three straight and six out of their last seven games to help catapult Eagle River to a tie with South atop the Alliance League’s American Division.

Thompson entered the game in relief of starter Garren Henning in the fourth inning with two runners on and one out. He escaped the jam, setting the theme for the rest of the game.

Thompson also wigged out of a two-on, two-out jam in the fifth inning before striking out three of the final six batters. He earned the win, going 3.2 innings with four strikeouts.

He also went 2-for-3 with an RBI on a sac fly.

Fredrick’s three-run double in the gap pushed Eagle River’s lead to 5-1 in the fourth inning.

Ryan Gray’s two-out, two-run single in the sixth inning made it 7-2.

East’s Corey Gagnebin crushed a home run over the left-field wall in the fourth inning. He destroyed the ball on a first-pitch, no-doubt-about-it bomb that landed on the football field behind the stadium.

Gavin Oakley went 2-for-4 with an RBI and Jacob Hulst was 2-for-3 for the T-birds (5-17, 1-7).

East pitchers Zack Barnhart, Bryce Erickson, Gagnebin and Barnhart each ended an inning by getting batters to strikeout looking.

The coolest moment of the night happened when East manager Kurt Solberg delivered the T-birds lineup. Solberg last month underwent open heart surgery and this was his first appearance at an East game this year. “Better late than never,” he said.

Monday Night Baseball: Service holds off Bartlett 9-6

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 13, 2020

Hutton Stiles pitched four scoreless frames during his five-inning stint and Sean Giffen had three RBIs as the Cougars won the Alliance League’s Monday Night Baseball broadcast at Mulcahy Stadium.

The southpaw Stiles carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and picked up the win with the help of two 1-2-3 frames in the first and third innings.

He also helped himself but drawing two walks and scoring a pair of runs.

Giffen's third RBI in the fourth inning made the score 8-2, paving the way for a Service win that kept the Cougars (7-12, 3-4) alive in the chase for a wildcard berth to the state tournament.

Giffen also made a nice play at shortstop on a slow chopper in the hole.

Service’s Carson Maltby reached base three times and scored three times. He ripped a pair of singles and drew a walk.

Catcher Owen Hickman singled, scored two runs and threw out a base runner at second base.

Speaking of defense, Bartlett flashed a web gems by catcher Eli Corwin, third baseman Ian Byrd and center fielder Carl Colacecchio.

Byrd made a nice play on a slow roller, fielding and throwing in motion.

Corwin threw out a base runner at second and Colacecchio saved a run by gunning down a runner at home for the Golden Bears (5-13, 2-5).

Connor Sessoms came off the bench to deliver two hits, including a two-run triple that burned the Service right fielder.

Bartlett's Luke Helgeson was another bright spot with three innings of scoreless relief. At one point he retired six straight.

Game of the Week: Dimond pulls away for 11-4 victory

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 8, 2020

The Dimond Lynx scored six runs over the fifth and sixth innings to pull away for an 11-4 win over the South Wolverines in the Alliance Baseball League Game of the Week live online broadcast at Mulcahy Stadium.

Alex Bruce, Logan Sweet and Miah Eneix each delivered RBI base hits in a late rally to help Dimond (14-4, 4-2) score double digits for the third straight game.

Starter Ryan Henrickson earned the win to improve to 3-0 on the season. He pitched five innings and allowed six hits, two earned runs and two walks. He struck out seven.

Eneix cleaned up with two scoreless innings. He went 1-for-2 with two walks, two runs and two RBIs. He also had a nice head-first slide to avoid the tag and score a run in the fifth inning.

His prowess as a pitcher, hitter and baserunner led to Eneix earning player-of-the-game honors.

Dimond had plenty of candidates. You could make a case for Henrickson, Zach Jenkins and Alex Wright as well.

Henrickson pitched three scoreless and reached base in four of five plate appearances. He also made a nice catch in center field in the sixth inning that ended a bases-loaded jam.

Jenkins went 2-for-3 with a double, run and three RBIs. His two-run single in the second inning put Dimond ahead for good at 3-2. His sac fly in the fourth inning made it 5-2.

Bruce, the No. 8 hitter, broke the game open with a two-run single in the fifth inning that pushed Dimond's lead to 7-4. He also helped turn a double play in the seventh inning.

South trailed 5-4 before a few errors helped Dimond extend innings and its lead.

But the Wolverines flashed a little leather as well; catcher Josh Costello threw out two baserunners in the first inning and helping turn a wild 1-3-5 double play in the seventh inning. Left fielder Ethan Staples also made a nice catch in the seventh inning.

Andrew Buckendorf went 2-for-4 with two RBIs for the Wolverines. Josh McGovern also had an RBI for South (13-4, 5-2).

Relief pitcher Lucas Wilkins pitched 4.1 innings and struck out eight batters, including the side in the third inning.

Game of the Week: Chugiak rallies from big hole, wins 7-6

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 1, 2020

Down but not out, the Chugiak Mustangs tonight battled back from a five-run deficit to defeat the West Eagles 7-6 in the Alliance Baseball League Game of the Week live online broadcast at Mulcahy Stadium.

Zach Cole pitched four shutout innings of relief to keep Chugiak in the game and Justin Nevells capped the comeback by scoring the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Frizelle led off the eighth inning with a single and then stole second base. Austin Bull walked and Camden Costanios reached on an infield single to load the bases.

Connor Lanehart bounced the ball to second, but the West defender's throw home sailed off the mark to allow Frizelle to score.

Cole earned the win and player-of-the-game honors, a much-deserved nod of respect after coming in with his team down 6-1. He allowed only two hits and one walk while striking out four.

Much of the night was dominated by West all-star Leland Wilson, who showed off his two-way skills in the box and on the bump.

The left-handed ace struck out nine batters in five innings of work, working around a hiccup in the fourth inning when he issued four walks and uncorked four wild pitches.

That was the first earned run he's allowed in 11.2 innings this season.

Wilson also reached base in each of his first three plate appearances with an RBI double in the second inning, a single and run scored in the third inning and a bases-loaded walk in the fourth inning.

Wilson's second RBI made it 6-1 - and it could have been worse for Chugiak had first baseman Bull not picked a throw in the turf for the final out of the fourth inning.

Still, Chugiak looked cooked.

In the sixth inning, the Mustangs capitalized on three straight hit batsmen - all on off-speed pitches - and a West throwing error to plate four runs and cut the deficit to 6-5.

Lanehart led off the seventh inning with a single and later scored on Hunter Rau's towering sac fly to left field to tie the game at 6-6.

The eighth inning was wild.

West's Bubba Mendoza (who was 2-for-2 off the bench) led off with an infield single and stole second base. He was moved to third base on a two-strike sac bunt by Max Fink.

But credit Cole, who retired two hot hitters in Shawn Jones and Jack Opinsky, getting another scoop by Bull at first base to keep the score tied and set up a walkoff win in the bottom half of the eighth inning.

‘Play ball’ never sounded better: Baseball is back

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 14, 2020

Rodney Perdue can’t hide his excitement. He’s back in his groove on the baseball field, coaching the Fairbanks 49ers.

“I am ecstatic,” he said. “Baseball has been a major part of my life for 55 years. It is a part of me.”

He craves the sounds of summer – the crack of the bat, the pop of the ball smacking into a glove, an entire dugout yelling, ‘Baaaack!’on pick-off attempts.

“I was just looking at my authentic No. 14 Ernie Banks Cubs jersey that I picked up at Wrigley Field a couple of years ago,” Perdue said, “and I was just remembering his favorite trademark saying of ‘Let's play two today!’

“The late, great Mr. Cub wanted to play a doubleheader every day and I'm right there with him.”

Enthusiasm in Alaska is at an all-time high as the Alliance Baseball League has registered more than 400 players from 29 teams – 14 varsity (AA) and 15 junior varsity (A) – from around the state.

In Anchorage, the East Thunderbirds and Service Cougars formed A teams for the first time in three years.

In Juneau, the Midnight Suns will bring an A team to Anchorage for the first time in more than 10 years.

In Fairbanks, the 49ers and North Pole Wild have combined to field a record six teams. Five years ago, there were just two teams in the Golden Heart City.

“The players are all very excited,” said Wild coach Raymond Pulsifer. “The entire community sees baseball returning as a hopeful sign that we all are making it through this crisis.”

Most of the country is still sidelined due to COVID-19, dating back to the spring.

In March, the Alaska Schools Activities Association canceled all spring sports, so no high school season. Then in April, American Legion Baseball canceled the season, leaving many people to fear seniors would strike out on a final season by never taking the field.

“Once we received word that National Legion shut it down it just felt like the final dagger,” said Wasilla Road Warriors coach Ken Ottinger.

But in stepped the Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska, a nonprofit dedicated since 1995 to the development of youth baseball in The Last Frontier.

Armed with leadership, resources and experience, the Alliance created an unofficial season with an unofficial state tournament to substitute what was taken away from players when high school and Legion pulled the plug.

“The seniors have been hammered this year,” said South Anchorage Wolverines coach Mike Webster. “The season means a lot to them, even if it's shortened.”

The Alliance formed a mitigation plan for players and coaches to follow on the field to stay in compliance with city and state safety requirements.

“It takes time to get used to, but as with anything, it becomes the new norm,” said Kenai Twins coach Robb Quelland.

It used to be that players brought their bat and glove to the field. Now they’ve added cleaning supplies.

“Never thought we would have to be clean while playing in the dirt,” Quelland quipped.

It’s a small price to pay to earn the luxury of being back on the baseball field, especially when so many kids around the country are not playing.

“At first the mitigation plan seemed daunting, but now it seems to be second nature,” Pulsifer said.

Ottinger agreed.

“We would go through a lot more to play baseball, so the mitigation, waivers and sanitizing is an easy extra step that we don’t mind.” he said. “Baseball is here and we get the chance to play the game we love. We will not take this summer for granted.”

IMG_4741.jpg

The Alliance to fill void after Legion National cancels 2020

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 12, 2020

The American Legion National Organization pulled the plug on baseball in 2020, but that doesn’t mean the season is sunk.

The Alliance for ALB in Alaska has thrown players a life preserver.

“We do not want this to be another thing that has been taken away from them,” said Alaska Legion Department Chair Russ Baker.

The Alaska nonprofit led by Steve Nerland and Don Winchester will create a league and manage daily operations of an unofficial season that would closely resemble a traditional Legion experience for players ages 13 to 19.

There are still lots of details to be determined - like how many teams, how many games, starting date - but the Alliance hopes to have a regular season and a postseason tournament to determine an unofficial state champion.

“We want kids playing baseball," said Baker, who will work closely with the Alliance as a senior advisor.

The Alliance has long been involved with youth baseball, whether it was securing funding to build turf fields, providing media coverage with live broadcasts or helping the league expand to a record 17 Legion programs.

The Alliance is ready, willing and able to step up to the plate.

“I want to thank Steve and Don for their insight,” said Baker. “They have a lot of the infrastructure already in place that will allow us to move quickly.”

There is planned a virtual mandatory meeting for coaches coming soon to answer questions and talk about protective measures to keep players compliant with COVID-19 safety guidelines set by state and city leaders.

There are plenty of hurdles to overcome before we hear ‘Play ball!’

But this is a much-needed win for the Alaska baseball community.

Last month, National canceled the Legion World Series and all eight regional tournaments throughout the country. Now, National is ending all support of all baseball activities, which basically ended any kind of official season.

“The American Legion National Organization staff and volunteers are not authorized to address or help with any Department (Alaska) situations,” Baker said. “At this time, we will suspend any official American Legion activities, training and background checks.”

Coaches in the new Alliance league would be required to meet the same state standards of Legion coaches to participate, such as Protect Youth Sports background checks and abuse training.

State to close public schools, spring sports due to COVID

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Mar 13, 2020

UPDATED STORY

7:12 p.m.

Alaska state officials tonight extended the closure of public schools to March 30 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The announcement was made by Gov. Mike Dunleavy, hours after the Anchorage School District had already extended spring break one week.

Now it's been extended two weeks.

All public school sports and activities - as well as Alaska Legion Baseball - are canceled through March 30.

1:45 p.m.

Amid growing concern over the coronavirus outbreak, the Anchorage School District has canceled all sports and activities planned for next week.

Alaska Legion Baseball officials have also canceled all practices through March 22 as a precautionary measure.

Further information will be forthcoming in the days ahead.

The high school baseball season was scheduled to begin Monday with teams holding their first official practice as students returned from spring break.

But now everything is on hold after the ASD extended spring break another week.

“No sports or activities next week, including practices or open gyms at any facility, ASD or otherwise,” said Anchorage School District official Marty Lang.

“The intent is to limit gatherings in the hope of slowing down the spread of COVID-19 in our community to something the local health care system can handle.”

Team members should contact their high school coach regarding practice times the week of March 23-28 depending on the Anchorage School District’s decision to open schools.

Johnson throws well in relief to earn first win for IWU

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Mar 9, 2020

Parker Johnson of Anchorage pitched well in relief for Indiana Wesleyan University and was rewarded with his first win.

The right-hander struck out a career-high six batters over 4.1 innings as NAIA Wildcats beat Saint Francis 14-11 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The former South Post 4 player entered the slugfest in the bottom of the fifth inning and kept things close, allowing two earned runs and one walk.

He scattered eight hits and wiggled out of several jams.

“Parker Johnson stayed after it in his work on the mound,” said Indiana Wesleyan coach Rich Benjamin.

This was Johnson’s first win in five appearances this season.

Johnson is one of the more versatile college baseball players from Alaska, having performed as a pitcher and everyday player in his career.

He has started at pitcher, left field, third base, shortstop, center field, right field, second base and designated hitter.

Johnson has been most effective at the plate, with a .265 career average and 32 RBIs in 80 games.

But he can also deliver on the mound and stepped up when his name was called in the finale of a four-game series, helping Indiana Wesleyan complete the sweep and remain undefeated in the Crossroads League.

From shaky to sensational, Curfman shows true grit

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Mar 7, 2020

Chugiak’s Cody Curfman had every reason to throw in the towel.

The Northern State University right-hander trailed 6-0 after the first inning. He gave up six hits to the first nine batters and looked iffy.

From shaky to sensational, Curfman battled back to work five shutout innings and strike out 10 batters from the University of Findlay in Winer Haven, Florida.

He ended five of six innings with a strikeout and at one point retired nine straight hitters.

The former Chugiak Post 33 pitcher induced a double play in the second inning and struck out the side in the fourth inning.

Curfman last year went 4-4 with a 3.59 ERA and 57 Ks over 62.2 innings for the NCAA D2 Wolves of Aberdeen, South Dakota.

His career high for strikeouts is 11 against Bemidji State.

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Stanley, a top Alaska player in the 1980s, passes away

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Feb 15, 2020

Anchorage’s Timothy Stanley, who was one of the state’s best baseball players in the 1980s, has passed away. He was 53.

Stanley played American Legion Baseball with Service Post 28 and graduated from Service High School in 1984.

In 1987, after a sensational season at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, he became just the second Anchorage player to ever sign a professional baseball contract when he agreed to a deal with the Montreal Expos organization.

He played second base and shortstop for Class-A Jamestown in 1988 and Class-A Rockford in 1989, making him just one of 25 players from Alaska to reach that level of pro ball.

“His rookie card pretty much sums up his personality,” said longtime friend Mike Webster, who played with Stanley back in the day.

“He played middle infield and occasionally outfield, but his card shows him pitching with a mischievous grin on his face. Typical Tim, always trying to make folks smile. He was one of the good guys.”

Stanley is survived by his wife Jodi and two children, Tyler and Dakota.

“He married his high school sweetheart and they had just celebrated 32 years of marriage,” Webster said.

“He was a man of faith, family and baseball. He loved making people laugh.”

Stanley was no joke on the baseball field.

He hit .390 with seven home runs in 40 games in his only season at Arkansas-Little Rock. That was a magic season for Stanley, whose .577 slugging percentage and .457 on-base percentage are No. 1 among Alaskans to play baseball at the NCAA D1 level.

In the summer of 1987, he led the Anchorage Glacier Pilots with a .467 batting average in 28 games.

In his rookie season of pro ball, he hit .290 in 36 games with five doubles, a home run and 16 runs for Jamestown.

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Altobelli’s impact stretched from California to Alaska

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jan 27, 2020

John Altobelli – one of the key figures that helped get the College Coaches Camp off the ground in the 1990s – was killed in a helicopter crash in California. He was 56.

Altobelli, his wife Keri and their teenage daughter were among the nine people onboard that died, including basketball legend Kobe Bryant.

Anchorage's Jarred Lewis played for Altobelli at Orange Coast College from 2000-2002 and said he was much more than a baseball coach.

“He was such a great man. I'm going to miss him. My family is going to miss him,” Lewis said.

Lewis also coached with Altobelli.

“His wife Keri helped me get my first job out of college,” he said. “Alto pretty much took me under his wing. He was an amazing person, an amazing mentor. He showed me how to run a baseball program. He taught me about life in general.”

Altobelli, who was better known as “Coach Alto” or just “Alto,” was entering his 28th season at Orange Coast College. In 2019, he got his 700th career coaching win during the California community college playoffs.

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The Altobellis are survived by a daughter, Alexis, and a son, Boston Red Sox scout J.J.

“They can't be forgotten,” Lewis said. “J.J. was huge with what Alto did in Alaska. All the summer camps, J.J. was with him for basically all of them.”

The College Coaches Camp is where Altobelli recruited Lewis, who played for East Post 34 and later coached the team.

“I couldn't have been more thankful to him for betting us and giving us a chance,” Lewis said of the Alaskans that Altobelli signed.

Altobelli was part of the College Coaches Camp from 1998 to 2004.

That’s where former Dimond Post 21 player Andrew Sullivan met him back in the late 1990s.

“He coached all the baserunning drills stations and was the de facto third base coach in any game situation, and his demeanor was the right balance of intensity and calm,” Sullivan said. “What I remember most about him was that he was a big proponent of ‘dirtbag’ baseball. He loved seeing dirt on the front of the jersey and that spoke to me at the time.”

Lewis said Altobelli was didn’t mince words. He pushed buttons to get the most out of his players, usually with brutal honesty.

“Anybody who played for him will tell you he's a straight shooter,” Lewis said. “He was not going to tell you what you wanted to hear. He would tell you things that hurt your feelings, but then he would say, ‘How are we going to fix it?' He was always there for his guys.”

Dimond honors Don Winchester by naming field after him

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Dec 30, 2019

It’s hard to talk about Dimond High School without mentioning Don Winchester.

Perhaps the most influential alum in school history, Winchester for 30 years has played a pivotal role in promoting, supporting and fundraising for Lynx athletics.

“In my opinion there is not another person that has done more for Dimond High School than Don Winchester,” said Kevin Taylor, vice president of the Dimond Alumni Foundation.

Winchester graduated from Dimond in 1969 and played for the school’s inaugural football and basketball teams.

He literally helped build the sports foundation and has since dedicated much of his life working towards preserving the Lynx legacy.

As a token of appreciation, the Dimond Alumni Foundation in conjunction with the Anchorage School District has named the school’s field after him.

The Don Winchester Field at Dimond Alumni Stadium.

“There is no more deserving than Don for this honor,” Taylor said. “He has put an unbelievable amount of time and effort to improve the high school experience for Dimond students and he want credit for any of the time and effort he invests.”

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Winchester has been president of the Dimond Alumni Foundation since its creation in the 1990s and led the effort to secure funding for a turf field that allowed Dimond to become the first school in Anchorage to have a home field for football and soccer.

He was also key in assisting other high schools in the city to obtain funding for their fields.

“All of the high schools in Anchorage have a home field now and we can thank Don for starting that trend,” Taylor said.

Winchester has also been the state’s sports historian since the 1980s in addition to setting the model for fighting for Title IX gender equity, advocating safety and practice standards, and advising various state championship events.

The announcement for the Don Winchester Field at Dimond Alumni Stadium was made recently at a Dimond pep assembly in front of the school’s entire student body.

“Unbelievably we were able to keep it a secret until the school assembly,” said longtime friend Steve Nerland. “Don is incredibly modest and likely would not have shown up if he knew what was going on.”

Homza raps out first base hit in Australian League

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Nov 27, 2019

Baseball season is over in the States, but things are just getting started in the Australian Baseball League.

Anchorage’s Jonny Homza signed with the Auckland Tuatara, the only team from New Zealand in the league.

He has played defensively at catcher and third base and also saw time at designated hitter.

Homza, of South High fame, delivered his first base hit with a double.

He also scored a run as Auckland beat the Perth Heat 5-2.

The third-year pro this summer played for Class-A Tri-City of the San Diego Padres organization.

For first time, Anchorage camp to feature 3 MLB coaches

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Oct 5, 2019

Two-time World Series champion Brent Strom along with hitting instructor Troy Snitker and pitching coach Bill Murphy of the AL West champion Houston Astros headline the Nov. 22-24 camp at West High Sc…

The Professional Coaches Baseball Clinic in Anchorage was already Alaska’s only camp to feature Major League Baseball coaches.

 

Now it’s even better after adding a third MLB coach.

 

Two-time World Series champion Brent Strom along with hitting instructor Troy Snitker and pitching coach Bill Murphy of the AL West Division champion Houston Astros headline this year’s camp Nov. 22-24 at West High School.

 

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The camp is for baseball players 9 to 18. Age groups are split into high school, middle school and youth.

 

Get a daily breakdown of each age group here: https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07eglre1mwa7158ffb&oseq=&c=&ch=

 

This is the first time in the 10-year history of the Professional Coaches Baseball Clinic that we've had three MLB coaches with the Astros at have in Anchorage at the same time to work with local players.

 

More coaches mean a more exclusive experience for campers.

 

No other baseball camp in Alaska gets you this close to the Big Leagues.

 

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Pay $125 for all three days with early registration before Nov. 1.

 

Register here: https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07eglre1mwa7158ffb&oseq=&c=&ch=

 

Strom has been involved with the Professional Coaches Baseball Clinic since the beginning.

 

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Strom brings a wealth of knowledge to Alaska as a two-time World Series winner as a coach with the Houston Astros in 2017 and St. Louis Cardinals in 2011. He also played five seasons in MLB from 1972 to 1977 with the New York Mets, Cleveland Indians and San Diego Padres.

 

Snitker and Murphy are also veterans of the Anchorage camp.

 

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Snitker, the son of Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker, was added to the Astros Major League coaching staff as one of their hitting coaches in 2018.

 

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Murphy finished his first season as Houston's minor league pitching coordinator and his fourth overall season with the organization.

 

This is a rare opportunity to rub elbows with MLB coaches and learn the game from elite professionals.

 

Register here: https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07eglre1mwa7158ffb&oseq=&c=&ch=

 

These are the guys shaping today's Big Leaguers from one of the game's most dominate teams.

 

The Professional Coaches Baseball Clinic is made possible by the Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska, a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of Alaska baseball players all over The Last Frontier.

MLB coaches come to Fairbanks for 1-day camp Nov. 20

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Oct 4, 2019

Two MLB coaches from the Houston Astros are coming to Fairbanks for a one-day kids camp for baseball players ages 9 to 18.

Hitting instructor Troy Snitker and pitching coach Bill Murphy will be in the Golden Heart City on Nov. 20 to headline the Professional Coaches Baseball Clinic at Lathrop High School.

The camp will take place from 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and be split into two age groups – high school and youth. Cost is $95 per player.

This is your chance to receive professional instruction from MLB coaches.

Register here: http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=rfnd4hiab&oeidk=a07egndnrmpe332593f

The Houston Astros are three-time defending AL West Division champions and winners of the World Series in 2017. They are back in the playoffs this year.

Snitker, the son of Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker, was added to the Astros Major League coaching staff as one of their hitting coaches in 2018.

Murphy finished his first season as Houston's minor league pitching coordinator and his fourth overall season with the organization.

This is a rare opportunity to rub elbows with MLB coaches and learn the game from elite professionals.

These are the guys shaping today's Big Leaguers from one of the game's most dominate teams.

This will be the third time the Professional Coaches Baseball Clinic has come to Fairbanks, thanks to the Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska, a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of Alaska baseball players all over The Last Frontier. 

Homza's first playoff base hit turns out to be grand slam

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Sep 9, 2019

Tri-Valley Dust Devils catcher Jonny Homza of Anchrage hit a grand slam in the first inning to highlight a 9-1 victory over the Hillsboro Hops in Game 2 of the Class A Northwest League championship se…

He had been hitless in the postseason and was dropped in the batting order, yet Jonny Homza of Anchorage kept his head high.

 

Then he went out and delivered the biggest hit of his professional career.

 

The Tri-Valley Dust Devils catcher hit a grand slam in the first inning to highlight a 9-1 victory over the Hillsboro Hops in Game 2 of the Class A Northwest League championship series.

 

The former South Legion Post 4 all-star has four career home runs in three pro seasons. But this was the first bomb as a Class A player; the other three came in the Arizona Rookie League.

 

The homer was his first playoff base hit and snapped an 0-for-8 start to his first postseason.

 

Homza is now 4-for-10 with seven RBIs in first-inning at-bats this season.

 

He usually bats in the middle of the order, but was moved down to the No. 8 spot in the NWL championship series after going hitless in the semifinal series.

 

He didn’t pout – he pounded a home run.

 

Homza has been nothing short of spectacular since turning pro on his 18th birthday the same day the San Diego Padres made him their 138th draft pick – the second-highest overall MLB selection from Alaska.

 

The Padres moved him from infielder to catcher; hardly an easy transition for a position with equipment dubbed ‘tools of ignorance.’

 

But he made it work and after two years of rookie ball was promoted to Class A, where he threw out a career-high 18 baserunners and smacked a career-high 14 doubles.

 

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Layton (UT) beats Wasilla 6-0 in NWCART title game

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 13, 2019

Alaska will have to wait another year for one of its teams to win the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament.

Utah’s Cameron Day made sure of that.

The Layton Post 87 right-hander racked up 15 strikeouts and pitched a 1-hit masterpiece in a 6-0 win over Wasilla Post 35 in the tournament championship game in Cody, Wyoming.

This was the first time an Alaska team had reached the NWCART title game.

Layton (21-11) won three elimination games in two days, beating Burley (ID) 3-2 earlier in the day and sweeping Wasilla after winning today and 14-3 last night.

There’s no shame in a second-place showing for Wasilla, which earned the best-ever NWCART finish for an Alaska team. South Post 4 finished third in 2013.

Wasilla (32-10) put together one of the greatest seasons in Alaska Legion Baseball history as the Road Warriors became the first team to win three games at a regional tournament and reach a regional championship game.

A tip of the cap to manager Ken Ottinger and his staff and players.  

Utah made the title game tough for Wasilla with Day on the mound. The 6-foot-2 all-state pitcher retired nine of the first 10 batters, had a hiccup in the fourth inning and then sat down the final 11 batters in order.

Wasilla’s Clayton Boyett had his team’s lone base hit in that fourth inning when Jacob Gilbert was also hit by a pitch. The Road Warriors had two baserunners reach with no outs, but Day danced out of trouble with a fielder’s choice and back-to-back strikeouts.

Day carried that momentum through the end of the game with three consecutive 1-2-3 innings. He threw a total of 100 pitches.

Wasilla pitched Kyle Graham one inning and Austin Robertson six innings. Only four of the runs they surrendered were earned as the defense made four errors behind them. But errors didn’t cost the Road Warriors.

Utah showed out in the title game, hitting two runs and getting a 1-hit pitching gem. Layton won its final five tournament games and came into the title game riding a ton of momentum after winning earlier in the day.

Wasilla played brilliantly all week, mixing pinpoint pitching from Boyett and Gilbert with an outstanding offense that featured home runs from Clancey O’Donnell, Graham and Balau Buckmaster and Graham’s 12 RBIs.

In 2020, the NWCART will be held at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage.

The NWCART was last held in Alaska in 2014 when Juneau Post 25 finished fourth.

Wasilla suffers first loss, still advances to NWCART final

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 12, 2019

Everyone is entitled to an off day. The great thing about baseball is tomorrow always provides a second chance and no doubt the Wasilla Post 35 Road Warriors are itching to get back on the field after losing their first game at the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament.

Layton (UT) beat Wasilla 14-3 in five innings to hand the Alaska state runner-up its first loss in four days of the double-elimination tournament in Cody, Wyoming. Burley (ID) beat Cheyenne (WY) 4-3 in the other game, leaving three teams alive for the championship.

On Tuesday, Burley and Layton will play at 10 a.m. ADT, with the winner immediately afterwards facing Wasilla in the NWCART final at approximately 1 p.m. ADT.

Wasilla (32-9) is looking to give Alaska its first regional champion in American Legion Baseball. Alaska has been sending teams to the NWCART since 2000.

Layton starter Caleb Brown pitched all five innings, throwing 97 pitches and allowing three hits. He struck out seven and walked six.

The seventh inning was a microcosm of his day – three strikeouts, two walks.

Layton (18-11) jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning and make the game an uphill battle for Wasilla from the very start.

The Road Warriors got one back in the bottom half after Kyle Graham’s RBI single scored Jacob Gilbert, who was hit by a pitch and went to second base after Clayton Boyett was hit by a pitch. Brown got out of the jam with a double play.

Wasilla got back another run in the second inning after drawing four walks in five at-bats. Waylon Payne, Max Wanser and Taylon Ottinger each drew traditional walks, but Gilbert’s RBI walk came on an 11-pitch battle with Brown.

Wasilla’s sloppy defense fueled Layton’s large lead as the team’s fifth error of the game pushed the lead to 10-2 in the third inning.

Balau Buckmaster drove in Wasilla’s final run in the bottom half of the frame.

The Utah team outhit Wasilla 11-3, with Gilbert, Graham and Clancey O’Donnell delivering base hits for the Road Warriors.

O’Donnell continued to tear the cover off the ball, going 1-for-3 to raise his tournament-leading batting average to .692 on 9-for-13 hitting.

Graham leads the tournament with 12 RBIs.

Wasilla is first Alaska team to reach NWCART final

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 11, 2019

Slugger Kyle Graham hit a grand slam and pitcher Jacob Gilbert went the distance as Wasilla Post 35 beat Burley (ID) 9-6 on Day 3 to guarantee a spot in the championship game of the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament in Cody, Wyoming.

At 3-0, the Road Warriors are the lone undefeated team in the double-elimination tournament and earned an automatic berth to Tuesday’s final – the first Alaska Legion team to reach the NWCART title game since we started sending teams in 2000.

Wasilla (32-8) will also play Monday against one-loss Layton (UT) at 5 p.m. ADT. Only four teams remain alive for the title hunt.  

Graham went 2-for-4 with a double, home run and six RBIs. The center fielder actually drove in his team’s first six runs of the game with a two-run double in the first inning and a grand slam in the second inning.

Graham is batting 6-for-10 on the weekend and owns a tournament cycle with two singles, a double, two triples and a homer. He leads all players with 11 RBIs.

Nobody in the tournament is hotter than Clancey O’Donnell. The Wasilla first baseman went 2-for-3 in this game to make him 8-for-10 at the NWCART.

O’Donnell has also drawn a walk to give him an .818 on-base percentage. That’s tough to do on a video game, yet this dude is doing it in real life.

That early offense was music to the ears of Gilbert, who found his rhythm on the mound to pitch a complete. He scattered eight hits and two walks mixed with seven strikeouts. Two of the runs he surrendered were unearned.

Gilbert was his usually steady self in the batter’s box as he went 2-for-3 with three runs, a walk and RBI. He is batting 6-for-11 in the tournament with a pair of RBIs and six runs.

Wasilla’s Clayton Boyett – the pitching hero in each of the first two teams – went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. He smacked a two-run double in the fifth inning to push his team’s lead to 9-4.

Burley fell to 37-7 on the season and 2-1 in the NWCART and will face Cheyenne (WY) in an elimination game before the Wasilla/Layton game.

Alaska and Wyoming are the only two states in NWCART history never to have had a tournament champion. Washington owns the most NWCART titles with 11, followed by Oregon (8), Montana (5), Idaho (3) and Utah (1). Alberta (CAN) plays in the same region as Montana and three Canadian teams have won the NWCART.

Alaska teams are now 8-18 at this tournament since 2013. That’s twice the number of wins Alaska teams posted at the tournament between 2000 and 2012.

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Wasilla beats Wyoming 6-2 to stay perfect at NWCART

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 10, 2019

One day after shutting the door, Clayton Boyett unlocked an awesome opportunity for Wasilla Post 35 as the remarkable right-hander pitched a complete-game, 11-strikeout gem to lead the Road Warriors to a 6-2 win over Cheyenne (WY).

Balau Buckmaster crushed a three-run homer and Clancey O’Donnell stayed hot as Wasilla improved to 2-0 at the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament in Cody, Wyoming.

Wasilla (31-8) is the first Alaska team to win two postseason games since South went 2-2 at the 2013 NWCART.

Wasilla will play Cody (WY) or Burley (ID) at 5 p.m. ADT in a game between the final two unbeatens.

Boyett was the bomb, striking out the side in the seventh inning to cap a 105-pitch complete game. In 14.2 innings over the state tournament and regional tournament, Boyett has a 0.00 ERA with two wins, a save and 17 strikeouts.

He got the final two outs in a 13-12 win over North Coos (OR) on Day 1.

This time, Boyett started what he finished.

He ended the fifth inning with a strikeout looking. He needed just five pitches to get out of the sixth inning, thanks to a double play. And then he went good morning, good afternoon and good night in the seventh inning.

Wasilla grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Waylon Payne’s RBI single.

In the third inning, the Road Warriors exploded for five runs after Taylon Ottinger, Jacob Gilbert and Boyett set the table and O'Donnell and Buckmaster cleared it. O’Donnell hit a two-run single and Buckmaster clubbed a three-run dinger.

Cheyenne scored two unearned runs in the fourth inning to make it 6-2.

O’Donnell is batting 6-for-7 in the tournament and shares the team lead in RBIs (5) with Kyle Graham.

Buckmaster started a 6-4-3 double play to end the sixth inning. Buckmaster has scored four runs in the tournament, which is tied with Jacob Gilbert for the team lead.

Alaska teams improved to 7-18 at the NWCART since 2013.

Wasilla holds off North Coos (OR) 13-12 at NWCART

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 9, 2019

The Post 35 Road Warriors (30-8) earned Alaska’s first win at the NWCART since 2016 and advanced to Saturday’s winner’s bracket at 2 p.m. ADT.

Wasilla Post 35 broke out the sticks with four extra-base hits and closer Clayton Boyett shut the door in a nail-biting seventh inning as the Road Warriors held off North Coos (OR) 13-12 at the Northwest Region A Tournament in Cody, Wyoming.

 

Clancey O’Donnell went 4-for-4 with a home run and Kyle Graham was 3-for-3 with two triples as the two sluggers combined for eight RBIs to highlight the team’s 14-hit attack. Jacob Gilbert finished 2-for-5 with a double, three runs and stolen base.

 

Wasilla earned Alaska’s first win at the NWCART since 2016 when Service beat Grantsville (UT) 11-10 in 11 innings.

 

Alaska teams are 6-18 at the NWCART since 2013.

 

Wasilla (30-8) advanced to Saturday’s winner’s bracket at 2 p.m. ADT and will play Cheyenne (WY), a 3-1 winner over Layton (UT).

 

Boyett ended the game after he struck out a North Coos batter with a runner in scoring position in the top of the seventh inning.

 

He came into the game with one out and Wasilla clinging to a 13-11 lead. He struck out the first batter he faced before back-to-back errors scored a run and extended the North Coos rally. But Boyett eventually sealed the deal with his second strikeout to earn the save.

 

Wasilla rallied from deficits of 3-0, 4-3 and 9-8 to pick up its first postseason victory in many years.

 

Graham and O’Donnell bat Nos. 4-5 in the lineup and routinely delivered big hits. Graham’s two-run triple and O’Donnell’s RBI single erased a 3-0 deficit in the first inning. Graham’s three-run triple made it 7-4 and O’Donnell’s RBI single made it 8-4 in the fourth inning.

 

O'Donnell’s solo home run to center field gave Wasilla an 11-9 lead. Max Wanser had a two-run single to make it 13-9, which proved to be big after North Coos scored three times in the seventh inning to nearly come back.

 

Wasilla used four pitchers with Austin Robertson throwing the first 2.2 innings, followed by Carter Hudson (2.0), Balau Buckmaster (1.2) and Boyett.

 

North Coos is the Oregon Legion A state champion.

Juneau eliminated from Regional after 9-8 loss to Casper

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 8, 2019

Just when it looked as if the Juneau Post 25 Midnight Suns would be victorious at the Northwest Regional Tournament for a second straight year, the rug was pulled out from underneath them.

Despite holding a five-run cushion going into the bottom of the seventh inning, the lead did not hold as Casper (WY) scored six times and walk off with a 9-8 win in the loser’s bracket to avoid elimination in Lewiston, Idaho.

Casper – a team that was no-hit yesterday – used three doubles, four walks and a hit batsman to tie the game before winning it after a wild pitch allowed the go-ahead run to score from third base. The Oilers (45-17) are playing at the Northwest Regional for the first time in 23 years.

Juneau (29-7) was eliminated from the tournament and fell to 1-6 in regional play over the last three years. This defeat had to sting the most, in large part because the Midnight Suns did so many things right in building an 8-3 lead.

They collected 13 hits with Christian Ludeman and Kasey Watts each going 3-for-4. Watts added three RBIs and scored two runs, and Ludeman scored twice and drove in a run.

Gabe Storie was 2-for-3 with a run. Oliver Mendoza was 2-for-4. Brock McCormick was 1-for-4 with two RBIs. Bobby Cox was 1-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. Chase Foster added an RBI.

Juneau took a 6-3 lead in the third and added single runs in the fourth and seventh innings to push the advantage to 8-3. All the while starting pitcher Donavin McCurley was cruising on the mound, leaving after 5.2 innings, with the lead.

He racked up several consecutive scoreless frames after a tough first inning when he gave up three runs on a bases-clearing double by Corbin Kirk. Those three runs pushed Kirk’s RBI total to 90 this year. Ninety! This guy is hitting .475 with 13 home runs, 25 doubles and nine triples.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound slugger is a beast in the box, yet McCurley got him to fly out to left field in the third inning and ground out to first base in the fifth inning.

This was the second time McCurley has thrown a gem at the Northwest Regional. In 2017, he threw a 9-inning complete game in 89 pitches in a 3-1 loss to eventual regional champion Lewiston (ID).

In Juneau’s six losses over the last three years at the Northwest Regional, four games were close and two defeats were on walk-offs. That might not seem like much, but Alaska teams were outscored 258-63 at the regional from 2008 to 2016.

Juneau no doubt helped Alaska close the competitive gap in our region, but we are reminded of the work still ahead. Next season will be here before you know it.

Medford (OR) 1-hits Juneau, wins NW Region opener 4-0

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 7, 2019

Medford (OR) Mustangs pitchers Bennett Thompson and Skyler Gaudern combined for a 1-hitter and faced the minimum 21 batters in a 4-0 win over Juneau Post 25 on the first day of the Legion Northwest Regional Tournament in Lewiston, Idaho.

Juneau starter Gabe Storie kept the Alaska state champs in the game as the score stood at 1-0 through the first five innings. He routinely escaped trouble and saw eight baserunners stranded, including the bases loaded in the third inning.

Even though the score was only 1-0 it felt much worse because of the stranglehold Thompson had on Juneau hitters. The right-hander relentlessly pounded the strike zone and carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning.

Brock McCormick singled and Donavin McCurley walked to produce Juneau’s only two baserunners, but both were erased after McCormick was caught stealing in the sixth inning and McCurley was picked off in the first inning.

Juneau (29-6) dropped into the loser’s bracket and tomorrow will play the Casper (WY)/Idaho Falls (ID) loser at 8:30am ADT. Medford – a 5-time Northwest Regional champion and 2-time Legion World Series finalist – improved to 33-23.

Medford took a 1-0 lead in the third inning after No. 9 hitter Chase Costanti doubled, went to third on Darin Marsh’s bunt single and scored on Storie’s error trying to throw out Marsh at first base. Medford threatened to put up a crooked number before Storie shut the door with a strikeout and pop up to end the frame.

Storie earned his sixth and final strikeout in the fifth inning, Meanwhile, the offense couldn’t buy a hit against Thompson, who retired 13 straight batters at one point. He was pulled after 5.2 innings and 60 pitches.

Medford scored two runs in the sixth inning on a bunt single RBI and sacrifice fly. The Mustangs added another run in the seventh inning on Dylan Marsh’s solo home run, his eighth bomb of the summer.

Juneau, the 3-time reigning Alaska state champs, fell to 1-5 in its last six games at the Northwest Regional. Most of the games, however, have been close.

In 2018, the Midnight Suns lost 8-7 to Meridian (ID) and won 13-9 over Missoula (MT). In 2017, they lost 3-1 to eventual regional champ Lewiston (ID).

Juneau looks to continue historic run at NW Regional

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 5, 2019

State champion Juneau has an 85-14 record the last three years going into this year's Legion World Series qualifier in Lewiston, Idaho.

There is no chill in the Juneau Post 25 Midnight Suns.

 

They don’t let up; they don’t give up. They get up for all opponents and usually put them down.

 

Juneau has emerged as the state’s premier Legion Baseball program over the last three seasons, carving up the competition to the tune of an 85-14 record, including a staggering 83-9 mark against Alaska teams.

 

The Midnight Suns last week won their third straight state championship to become just the third program to three-peat in the 67-year history of the state tournament, joining Anchorage dynasties East (2003-2006) and West (1964-1968).

 

The state championship clinched Juneau’s third consecutive trip to the Northwest Regional Tournament, a Legion World Series qualifier that begins Wednesday morning in Lewiston, Idaho.

 

Juneau (29-5) will face Oregon’s Medford Mustangs (33-23) in the first round.

 

Last year the Midnight Suns finished 1-2 at the Northwest Regional, with their 13-9 victory over the Missoula (MT) Mavs serving as the first for the state of Alaska since 2009, ending a long and painful 19-game losing streak.

 

Alaska has never won a Northwest Regional title and remains one of only four states nationwide (New Mexico, Vermont, Wyoming) to have never sent a team to the Legion World Series.

 

FIVE-TOOL PROGRAM

If there was an Alaska team capable of shattering the glass ceiling at the Northwest Regional, it’s the Midnight Suns.

 

They are the most complete team in the state, checking all the boxes for hitting, pitching, fielding, baserunning and coaching.

 

Juneau is a five-tool program.

 

The team has averaged 8.8 runs per game, thanks to a .317 team batting average and .443 team on-base percentage. The team ERA is 3.01 and the team fielding percentage is .938. The team has 91 stolen bases on 106 attempts for an 86% success rate.

 

Coach Joe Tompkins is a three-time Alaska Legion Coach of the Year and manager Jeremy Ludeman shared the top coaching honors with Tompkins in 2018.

 

Individually, Juneau is loaded with talent, depth and experience. But big Bobby Cox is the engine that powers the offensive.

 

The 6-foot-1, 240-pounder wears the triple crown with a .459 batting average, two home runs and 37 RBIs. He also leads the team with 14 doubles, four triples and 38 runs.

 

Cox won the Big Stick Award at last week’s state tournament.

 

Other hitting leaders are Christian Ludeman (.402), Brock McCormick (.357), Gabe Storie (.344) and Kona Ogoy (.333).

 

Storie hit .350 with three RBIs and eight runs at the state in addition to throwing a 5-hit shutout against No. 1 Wasilla en route to being named Most Valuable Player at the state tournament – the same honor his brother Zeb won in 2017.

 

The Juneau pitching earned-run leaders are Storie (1.29), McCormick (1.69) and Donavin McCurley (1.96), who have combined to win 14 of 15 decisions. Cox, Ludeman and Olin Rawson have also pitched well and provide extra arms during a five-day tournament.

 

MORE ABOUT MEDFORD

The Medford Mustangs extended their record of consecutive Oregon Legion state championships to six with a 5-4 victory over the Eugene Challengers in the championship game in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

 

The Mustangs, who were six games below .500 on June 29 with a 9-15 record, caught fire in the month of July with 24 wins in 31 games.

 

Medford has captured 14 of the past 29 Oregon state titles and 17 in all.

 

The Mustangs return to the Northwest Regional for the sixth straight year.

Eagle River completes Legion A tournament triple crown

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 4, 2019

Legion A

Alaska Airlines Legion A State Tournament

Title Game Eagle River 17, Dimond 4

Luke Barch pitched a complete game and Joshua Thompson had four RBIs as the Wolves rolled in the title game to capture the Alaska Airlines Jr. Legion State Championships crown at Kosinski Fields.

Garrin Henning, Mitchell Legenza, Gavin Henning, Alex Mullen, Barch, Reece Younge and Caleb Roles also batted in runs for the winners.

No. 1-seeded Eagle River captured this season’s Legion A triple crown with tournament championships in Fairbanks, Chugiak and Anchorage.

Barch scored two runs, stole a base and pitched all five innings in the title game.

Thompson went 3-for-3 with a double, run, walk to highlight the 17-run attack.

Gavin Henning hit a double and scored twice, Young scored three times and Legenza scored two runs and stole a base.

Dimond's Carl Colavecchio went 1-for-3 with two RBIs and Peyton Montagna doubled and scored a run. Michael Bretke scored a run and was one of five pitchers to see action.

This was Dimond's first finals appearance in this season's Legion A trio of tournaments.

In the semifinals earlier in the day, No. 3 Dimond posted an 11-9 upset victory over No. 2 Palmer, a two-time tournament series finalist.

Dimond's Alex Wright went 3-for-4 with a triple, two runs and three RBIs. Brayden Rundle was 3-for-4 with a run and RBI. Garrett Lick doubled twice and scored three times.

Bretke got it done on both ends, batting 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, and then closing out game to earn the save. He came in relief of Lynx starter Joseph Moriaty, who picked up the win with six innings of work.

The Alaska Airlines Jr. Legion State Championships featured 14 games between Legion A teams from Eagle River, Dimond, Palmer, Fairbanks, South, North Pole, West and Chugiak.

Marion Davis Memorial set for Aug. 17 at Taylar Young

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 4, 2019

Please join us in celebrating Marion's amazing impact for a celebration of life Saturday, Aug. 17 at 2 p.m. at the Taylar Young Memorial Ballpark at South Anchorage High School.

Friends and family, we have been heartened with the outpouring of love and support you have all shown us these past two weeks. We held a quiet family graveside service last Saturday and laid Marion on the other side of Taylar next to his Apple tree, at which time an Apple fell serendipity next to Marion during the service.

 

Please join us in celebrating Marion's amazing impact on all of us Saturday, Aug. 17 at 2 p.m. at the Taylar Young Memorial Ballpark at South Anchorage High School. 

 

Matson Lines and Firetap are helping our family with hosting the services for which we are forever grateful. After the services we encourage anyone interested to stop by Firetap for one final “TOAST” in Marion's honor.

 

Please feel free to pass along the flyer to anyone that may be interested in attending.

 

Marion Gibson Davis

 

Our beloved husband, father and grandfather passed away at St. Vincent Providence Hospital in Portland on July 18, 2019.  Marion was Born September 18, 1948, in Greenville, Mississippi to Emett George Davis and Royce Christine Davis, the 4th of four siblings. His father was a carpenter and Marion often followed him around when he was a young boy, watching and learning.  He was able to do almost anything with his hands and did beautiful tile work and carpentry as well as fixing plumbing and electrical issues.  Marion's father died when he was young and it was then that he began making trips to Anchorage to stay with his sister during the summers, Christine Moesch.

 

After graduating from Delta State College, Marion moved to Anchorage for good and began working in the shipping industry.  During this, time he met Charlotte Young and they were married in December, 1972.

 

As vice president and general manager of Horizon Lines of Alaska, Marion had led what is now Matson’s Alaska operations from 2008 through the acquisition in 2015.

 

Over his 30-year career, having joined Sea-Land in 1985 as Anchorage Port Director in 1985, Marion became known among customers and employees as a straight-talking, results oriented, humble individual with deep convictions and integrity.  Among his many accomplishments with Horizon, a major part of Marion’s legacy was his contribution to setting up the Dutch Harbor port location that opened in 1991.  Throughout his career, Marion received many accolades for outstanding performances with Sea=Land, CSX, Horizon Lines, and Matson.

 

Marion was always active in his community and ready to lend a hand wherever needed.  He served on the board of directors of Alaskan’s for litter prevention & Recycling (ALPAR), Special Olympics Alaska, Municipality of Anchorage Parks & Recreation Committee, Angelus Memorial Park, All Alaska Longshore Trust, Alaska Teamsters 959 Pension and Health & Welfare Trusts, and Taylar Young Memorial Foundation.  He was very involved in the construction of Taylar Young Memorial Ballpark at South Anchorage High, which was built in his grandson's (Taylar Young) honor.  He was a strong supporter of youth activities in the Anchorage area.

 

Marion is survived by his wife, Charlotte, son Dennis L. Young, daughter Kristen Davis-Lankford (Alan), grandson Jack Taylar Lankford, grandson Schuyler Young and several nieces and nephews.  Preceded in death by his sisters, Frances Odom, Elaine Davis and Christine Moesh, and his grandson Taylar Young.

 

A Celebration of Life will be held at South High School on August 17th at 2pm. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to Taylar Young Memorial Foundation, 1907 Post Rd. Anchorage, AK 99501.

 

Marion Davis Memorial.jpg

State Tournament Title Game: Juneau 13, Wasilla 8

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 30, 2019

State Tournament

Title Game Juneau 13, Wasilla 8

History was made as the Midnight Suns became the third Alaska Legion team in 67 years to win three straight state championships after scoring five runs in the eighth inning to the beat the No. 1 Road Warriors.

Bobby Cox finished 2-for-5 with four RBIs, including a three-run triple in extra innings to power No. 2 Juneau's 11-hit attack. Gabe Storie was 3-for-4 with three runs and two RBIs, and Christian Ludeman scored two runs, drove in two runs and pitched the final 5.2 innings to earn the winning decision.

Juneau joined East (2003-2006) and West (1964-1968) as the only teams to three-peat. This will also be the third straight year Juneau will represent Alaska at the Northwest Regional. Last year, the Midnight Suns became the first team from the 907 to win a regional game since 2009. This year’s Northwest Regional will be held next week in Lewiston, Idaho.

The championship game featured four lead changes and a late-game tie that forced extra innings. The 21 combined runs made this the highest scoring state final since 2000 and just the fifth-ever state title game to go into extras.

How’d we get there? This game’s storyline had more twists and turns than a made-for-TV movie, with both sides delivering outstanding performances in a game that could have gone either way. It’s fitting these teams split their 4-game season series.

Wasilla (29-8) built a 5-1 lead in the third inning after Waylon Payne scorched a two-run double that scored Kyle Graham and Clancey O'Donnell.

Juneau  (28-5) pulled within 5-3 in the top of the fourth inning on a Cox RBI double and Brock McCormick RBI single, but Wasilla responded in the bottom half on Clayton Boyett's RBI single to make it 6-3.

In the fifth inning, Juneau kept the pressure by plating two more runs after Storie singled and later scored on a wild pitch and Donavin McCurley doubled and scored on a Ludeman's groundout to get within 6-5. And just like the previous inning, Wasilla responded with a run after Kyle Graham scored on a fielder's choice.

With runners at second and third, Byson Malave chopped a grounder deep in the hole at shortstop, but rather than throw to first base, Storie made the easier play at third base. The tag was made for the third out, however, it wasn’t before Graham touched home plate. So, the run counted to give Wasilla a 7-5 cushion.

Juneau answered back again in the sixth inning with a third consecutive crooked number, this time a three spot. Storie’s sac fly tied the game at 7-7 and McCormick scored on an error to give the Midnight Suns their first lead since the first inning at 8-7.

Still, you just knew Wasilla had one more rally, and the Road Warriors didn’t disappoint.

Graham, who had a big game with two hits, three runs and an RBI, led off with a double to get the party started. O'Donnell was hit by a pitch and Payne reached on a bunt to load the bases. That's when Juneau coach Joe Tompkins called his team together for a visit on the mound. Wasilla's Balau Buckmaster hit a sac fly to tie the game at 8-8 for the first out.

But that was all Ludeman surrendered and the game went into extra innings.

In their next at-bats, the Midnight Suns do what they do best: win. Storie’s RBI double and Cox’s three-run triple put Juneau over the top and secured the team’s third straight state title and state-best 25th postseason win since coming back to Legion in 2013. Cox was named the tournament's Big Stick Award winner and Storie earned state tournament MVP honors - the same award his big bro won in 2016.

Wasilla’s second-place showing punched the team’s ticket to the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament (NWCART), which will be held next week in Cody, Wyoming. This was Wasilla’s first appearance in the Legion title game since 2010.

State Tournament Awards

Top Pitcher - Clayton Boyett, Wasilla

Gold Glove - Oliver Mendoza, Juneau

Big Stick - Bobby Cox, Juneau

MVP - Gabe Storie, Juneau

State Tournament Day 5: Juneau 5, South 4

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 30, 2019

No. 2 Juneau rallied from deficits of 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 before ending the game in extra innings against a No. 5 South squad to advance to the state championship game for the third straight season.

State Tournament

Game 14 Juneau 5, South 4

Donavin McCurley and Bobby Cox delivered RBI singles in the bottom of the eighth inning to help the Midnight Suns walkoff on South and advance to the state championship game for the third straight season.

 

No. 2 Juneau rallied from deficits of 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 before ending the game in extra innings against a No. 5 South squad that was involved with three walkoffs in five tournament games, taking one and dropping two.

 

Juneau’s Luis Mojica started the winning rally with a bunt single. He stole second base and with one out scored on McCurley’s sharp base hit. Christian Ludeman then singled to move McCurley into scoring position. Cox singled on an 0-2 pitch to score McCurley with the winning run.

 

Juneau (27-5) advanced tonight’s 6:15 title game against No. 1 Wasilla.

 

Many times, it didn’t look like the two-time defending state champions from the capital city would make it back to the finals.

 

South (20-12) took a 3-2 in the fifth inning after Gunnar Nix walked, stole second base and advanced to third base on Ryan Bailey’s sac bunt. Juneau starter Brock McCormick then won a 10-pitch battle with Ricky Gatter after Gatter had fouled away four straight balls to stay alive and push the count.

 

The next batter, Brock Reid, then hit a routine grounder to the shortstop, who didn’t field cleanly the ball, which allowed Reid to reach and Nix to score. South maintained that momentum in the bottom half as the Wolverines defense recorded a caught stealing and turned a double play.

 

In the sixth inning, however, Juneau tied the game at 3-3 on the weirdest of plays. As usual, McCurley was right in the middle of the action. He led off with walk and went to second base after Ludeman was hit by a pitch. Exit South starter Josh McGovern. Enter South reliever Gage Webster.

 

Webster got the first out on a pop up and then appeared to have escaped the two-on jam when Kasey Watts hit a tailor-made double play ball, but the first baseman couldn’t handle the low throw. That error extended the play – literally – as Watts never really stopped running and created a rundown.

 

The decision to keep running was so brazen, so unexpected, it worked. The South defense initially focused on Watts, just for a second, and the speedy McCurley capitalized on that momentary lapse of concentration and raced home from third base to tie the game without a throw.

 

In the eighth inning, South took a 4-3 lead after Brock singled and eventually scored after back-to-back bunts. Twice, Juneau tried to get the lead runner and failed. With the bases loaded and no outs, Josh Costello’s swinging bunt scored Reid from third base. Costello wasn’t bunting, but topped the ball so well it rolled 25 feet from the plate and died in the FieldTurf.

 

Juneau reliever Olin Rawson got out of the jam with a strikeout to end the inning. He wound up getting the winning decision in relief of starter Brock McCormick, who pitched 7.1 innings.

 

Juneau improved to 2-0 against South on the season and 4-1 all-time at the state tournament dating back to 2013.

Matson Invitational Title Game: Ketchikan 6, Eagle River 1

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 30, 2019

Matson Invitational

Title Game Ketchikan 6, Eagle River 1

Wyatt Barajas struck out seven batters in five innings and added an RBI triple to win tournament MVP honors and give the Post 3 Kings their second Matson championship in three years.

Ketchikan broke the game open at Mulcahy Stadium with a three-run fourth inning followed by a two-run fifth inning, and Barajas and reliever Liam Kiffer finished it off to cap an 18-14 season and terrific tournament performance.

Coach John Milner's team outscored opponents 40-9 in a 4-0 showing.

Credit the Kings for twice picking themselves off the ground during the 2019 season – first losing the high school state title game and then missing out on qualifying for the Legion State Tournament by one game.

Rather than whine, they won the Matson.

Look, nobody wants to be in a consolation tournament; winning a state championship is always the goal. But ending the season with a victory is something only one other Alaska Legion team will experience this season.

Barajas was the centerpiece. He was effective on the mound (7IP, 1ER, 10Ks), with the bat (7RBIs) and with the glove (0Es).

Bajaras and Kiffer – the Bash Brothers – played a significant role in Ketchikan’s success as the Kings increased their win total in each of the last three seasons and won the Matson title twice. Together, they made up one of the most powerful 1-2 punches in Alaska. They are both headed to Clackamas Community College.

Tug Olson is a gem who gets overshadowed, hitting No. 6 in the order. But he had a great tournament, batting 7-for-11 (.636) on the week with four RBIs and five runs. In the final he singled, hit a sac fly and swiped a base.

Azariah Schultz and Carstens Jasper also had RBIs in the final and Terik Brown scored twice.

For Eagle River, this was the program’s third consecutive appearance in the Matson championship game. The Wolves rank No. 2 in tournament history with 14 all-time victories, trailing only Ketchikan’s 15 wins. North Pole is third with 11.

Eagle River’s Noah Lower had a super showing at the plate on a 6-for-12 clip to lead his team with a .500 batting average. He had three doubles and four RBIs and was named the tournament’s Big Stick Award winner.

The tournament’s Top Pitcher Award went to Ketchikan’s Hayden McGarrigan, who posted a 0.78 ERA in 9 innings over two appearances.

Eagle River’s Sterling Retzlaff was named the Gold Glove Award winner. He played multiple defensive positions all over the diamond and did not make an error on 10 total chances, including a double play.

State Tournament Day 4: Juneau 6, Wasilla 0

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 29, 2019

Pitcher Gabe Storie threw a 5-hit shutout as the No. 2 Midnight Suns handed No. 1 Wasilla its first tournament loss.

State Tournament

Game 13 Juneau 6, Wasilla 0

Gabe Storie pitched a 5-hit shutout and joined Donavin McCurley, Christian Ludeman, Brock McCormick and Riley Griffin with RBIs as No. 2 Juneau handed No. 1 Wasilla its first tournament loss.

 

Storie moved the ball around the zone and prevented the Road Warriors from squaring up many pitches. He allowed five hits and two walks but was never really under pressure.

 

The right-hander struck out three batters and his infield turned a pair of quality double plays behind him. He also caught a baserunner stealing after calmly stepping off the rubber and throwing to second base. All poise, no panic.

 

That calm, cool and collected demeanor is typical with this veteran-laden Juneau team brimming with experience, depth and confidence. Many players are holdovers from the last two state title teams in 2018 and 2017.

 

The Midnight Suns push opponents mentally, looking to catch them off guard and squash their initiative by taking extra bases when the defense is caught napping. It happened a few times against Wasilla.

 

Juneau (26-5) jumped out to a 2-0 in the top of the first inning, cashing in on Christian Ludeman’s beautiful bunt that scored McCurley from third base and McCormick’s bases-loaded RBI walk that scored Kasey Watts.

 

From there, the Midnight Suns sealed the deal with pitching and defense. They turned a 1-6-3 double play in the fourth inning and a 4-6-3 twin killing in the sixth inning.

 

Juneau pushed its lead to 3-0 in the fifth inning. With runners at first and third, McCormick stole second base and when the ball scooted away from the infielder covering the bag, that slight mistake gave Bobby Cox his break to book it home.

 

In the sixth inning, Juneau’s Luis Mojica singled, stole second base and scored on Storie’s RBI single to make it 4-0. Storie later scored to make it 5-0. Riley Griffin’s RBI double completed the scoring in the seventh inning.

 

Wasilla's Jacob Gilbert went 2-for-3 and other base hits came from Kyle Graham, Waylon Payne and Taylon Ottinger.

 

Relief pitcher Carter Huston came out of the bullpen in the first inning and went the distance, scattering nine hits and two walks over 6.1 innings.

 

Wasilla (29-7) advanced to Tuesday’s state championship game at 6:15 p.m., and will play the winner of Juneau and South at 3:15 p.m. It all goes down at Mulcahy Stadium.

State Tournament Day 4: South 2, Chugiak 0

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 29, 2019

State Tournament

Game 12 South 2, Chugiak 0

Given a second chance, Post 4 pitchers Austin Delesline and Gage Webster didn’t flinch and delivered a fabulous 2-hit combined shutout as South inched closer to making its first Legion finals appearance since 2014.

Delesline danced around danger all day but came away unscathed in 5.2 innings to collect the win for No. 5 South. He only allowed two hits but issued five walks and hit four batters, forcing him to wiggle out of some tough jams.

Webster picked up the save after striking out three of the four batters he faced.

Together, they were lights out. It was a much different story two days ago when their fingerprints were on a bullpen blowup that led to a South loss. The great thing about baseball, however, is how often the game presents opportunities to atone for past mistakes. There’s always tomorrow.

There will be no tomorrow for No. 3 Chugiak, which was eliminated from the state tournament with a 25-7 record. The Post 33 Mustangs had plenty of chances on the base paths, but stranded 11 runners – 8 in scoring position – en route to being shut out for the second straight day.

This game didn’t have a lot of scoring, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t action. From the first batter to the final pitch, this game was tight and terrific, with both teams showcasing championship-level pitching and defense.

South scored both runs in the first inning after the first five batters reached base: Ricky Gatter reached on the only error of the game; Reid Brock hit an RBI double; Webster singled, Terren Sugita walked and Damian Mohl poked an RBI infield single.

After that it was nothing but web gems and goose eggs. No errors, no passed balls, no wild pitches. Clean as they come.

Chugiak turned three double plays, with second baseman Micah Cassezza starting two of them. Shortstop Justin Nevells saved a run in the first inning after getting rid of the ball quickly to just beat the runner and third baseman Billy Smith saved a run in the second inning after making a strong across-the-diamond throw from behind third base to end the inning.

Chugiak pitchers Sam Hall and Camden Costanios combined on an outstanding outing. Hall gave up seven hits, but only four after the first inning. Costanios worked two scoreless innings with three strikeouts.

South will play Tuesday, time and opponent TBD.

Juneau and unbeaten Wasilla play tonight at 6:15. If Juneau wins, Juneau will face South on Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. with the winner playing Wasilla for the state title. If Wasilla wins, Wasilla would face South on Tuesday at 3:15 p.m., with an if-necessary game scheduled for 6:15 p.m. South would have to win both games.

It all goes down at Mulcahy Stadium.

Matson Invitational Day 4 coverage: Eagle River sweeps

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 29, 2019

Eagle River won both loser-out games on the day, edging Service 4-2 and beating North Pole 11-6, to advance to Tuesday's title game vs. Ketchikan.

Matson Invitational

Game 15 Eagle River 4, Service 2

The battery of pitcher Ryan Gray and catcher Cameron Witte took command of the game as Gray carried a shutout into the seventh inning and Witte drove in a run and threw out two baserunners to send the Wolves back to the championship game.

 

Gray finished with a 2-hitter in 6.2 innings, getting within one strike of a complete game. He left after reaching the 105-pitch limit and issuing a walk to his final batter.

 

In frustration of just missing a postseason shutout, Gray squeezed the brim of his cap and slapped it against his knee. He’s a gamer and you could feel his disappointment, but if anything, he deserved a tip of the cap for a job well done.

 

Gray’s pitching pushed the Wolves into Tuesday morning’s title game against tournament unbeaten Ketchikan. The game begins at 9 a.m. at Mulcahy Stadium, with an if-necessary game scheduled for 11:30 a.m.

 

Witte was a difference maker at the plate and behind the plate. His sacrifice fly in the fourth inning gave Eagle River a 2-0 lead. In addition to throwing out a pair of would-be base stealers, he also made two nice catches on high pop ups up the elevator shaft.

 

Service made things interesting at the end, but for the most part it was all Eagle River (11-22). This win also avenged a 7-3 loss to Service two days ago.

 

In the third inning, Deven Wesolowski stole second base and third base and scored after the throw from the catcher skipped past the third baseman.

 

In the fourth inning, Eagle River plated three runs on Witte’s sac fly, Braden Olmstead’s RBI fielder’s choice and Gray’s RBI groundout. At the time, it seemed like a four-run cushion would be more than enough. But things got closer.

 

In the seventh, Service took advantage of five walks to Nathaniel Cole, Simon Kouloo, Josh Smith, Sean Giffen and Hutton Stiles to crawl within 4-2. The Cougars had the bases loaded and the tying run at second base when the final out was recorded by Wesolowski, who earned the save.

 

Service (11-21) closed the season strong after a 1-17 start and finished third in the Matson Invitational.

 

Game 14 Eagle River 11, North Pole 6

Sterling Retzlaff went 3-for-4 with a triple as the Wolves used a 13-hit attack to remain alive in the tournament and knock out the Wild.

 

Retzlaff added two runs and RBI. Ryan Gray, Noah Lower and Damien Fredrick each had two RBIs.

 

Eagle River (10-22) improved to 3-1 in the tournament and inched closer to making a third straight finals appearance in the Matson Invitational.

 

Stefan Retzlaff and Fredrick combined on a 6-hitter.

 

Eagle River went ahead 5-1 after a four-run second inning. And when North Pole closed within 5-4, the Wolves responded by scoring three in the fourth, one in the fifth and two more in the sixth to break open the game.

 

North Pole's Ethan Wolfe went 2-for-3 with a double, two walks and run.

 

Wyatt Kammer drove in three runs and Alex Garcia doubled, scored twice and drove in one run.

 

North Pole finished the season 11-18.

State Tournament Day 3 coverage: All 3 games

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 28, 2019

State Tournament

Game 11 Wasilla 1, Chugiak 0

Clayton Boyett was the bomb, pitching 6.1 shutout innings, and setting up and scoring the only run in the first inning as Wasilla clinched a spot in Tuesday’s title game no matter what happens Monday.

No. 1 Wasilla (29-6) is the only unbeaten crew among the four teams still alive in the double-elimination tournament.

Boyett led off the game with a single, stole second and scored on Kyle Graham’s sac bunt. The speedster can change the course of a game several ways, whether it be his wheels or his stick. Or his right arm.

His pitching took center stage as he scattered five hits and two walks mixed with four strikeouts. He also picked off two base runners and assisted on a play at the plate to deny the tying run from scoring.

The defense was contagious as catcher Max Wanser threw out a baserunner in the fourth inning.

Chugiak pitcher Ian Frizelle pitched very effectively and needed just 84 pitches in six innings of work. He gave up four hits and two walks. One strikeout is all he had, but all he did was throw strikes (65%).

In the fifth inning, Chugiak loaded the bases after Garrett Nevells singled, Sam Hall walked and Camden Costanios reached on an error. But Boyett got out of the jam after fielding a bunt and throwing out the runner at home and then ending the inning on a flyout.

In the sixth inning, Wasilla threatened with runners on the corners after a walk, fielder’s choice and Clancey O’Donnell single. Waylon Payne then hit a soft liner to right field, where Chugiak’s Garrett Nevells made a super sliding catch to save a run.

In the seventh, Chugiak’s got started with a leadoff single by Trystan Costanios and then a two-strike sac bunt by Garrett Nevells to put a runner in scoring position. Boyett was pulled after reaching the 105-pitch limit.

Enter Balau Buckmaster, who ended the game with a strikeout and groundout to collect the save.

No. 3 Chugiak (25-6) dropped into the loser’s bracket and will face South in an elimination game at 3:15 p.m. Wasilla will face a one-loss Juneau team at 6:15 p.m. Both games are at Mulcahy Stadium.

If it’s a big game in Alaska, it happens at Mulcahy Stadium.

Game 10 Juneau 4, Kenai 3

At 240 pounds, Bobby Cox isn’t designed for speed. But his baserunning was the difference for the Post 25 Midnight Suns as his stolen base and run in the sixth inning broke a tie and propelled Juneau to victory in the loser-out game.

Oliver Mendoza had two RBIs, including the hard-hit single in the hole to score Cox from second base with the winning run.

Donavin McCurley pitched a complete game for No. 2 Juneau (25-5), working around a double in the seventh inning. He needed 95 pitches to go the distance, scattering eight hits and five walks while striking out four.

This game featured two proud programs that have combined to win four Legion state championships in the last seven years. You just knew this game would come down to the wire.

With the game tied at 3-3 in the sixth inning, Christian Ludeman led off with a walk but was erased on Cox’s ground ball fielder’s choice. On the play, Kenai sh