Chinook Heartbreaker In Mat-Su Valley, Miners Walk-Off With Victory On Military Appreciation Night

Game Recap by Lee Jordan

The Chinooks’ bats have come alive and the team traveled to Palmer tonight filled with determination to turn things around. They out-hit the Miners throughout the game, but a big bottom of the third temporarily made the outlook dim. The fish refused to give up and tied the game at four-all, only to see their hopes dashed in the bottom of the ninth. An over-anxious double-play attempt let the winning run cross.

Despite the outcome, the game was a thriller that kept the faithful on both side on the edge of their seats until that last play was made.

The fish were running in the top of the first. Number two hitter Drew Turbin singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored when Collin Radack dou- bled. Radack then scored on Tyler Krah’s double to put the Chinooks up by two.

A third run came in the top of the second when Stephen Ventimila walked, stole second and scored on a single by Turbin. The fish threatened in the third but left two men on when the third out was recorded.

Asa Johnson, switched from the bullpen to the rotation in the flu-ravaged early stages of the season, did an outstanding job for the Chinooks. He gave up but one hit in the bottom of the first, then sat the side down in the second.

It was a different story in the third, though, when a single, a hit batsman, and then a bunt that turned a sacrifice into a single loaded the bases. A walk brought in Mat-Su’s first run; then a single to right made it 4-3.

Johnson pulled himself together after the onslaught, getting three straight outs to get his team back on the bench. Only one Miner got on base in the next three in- nings, that one benefitting from an infield error.

Each starter came out after six innings, the Miners at that point ahead 4-3. Devin Stanton took over for Johnson and Patrick Kenney relieved Miner Trevor Bettencourt. Bettencourt gave up a double to Chinook second-sacker Griffin Roark who then was sacrificed to third by Turbin and scored on a shot to second by Radack to tie the game.

It remained there until Stanton gave up a mistake to the leadoff hitter in the sev- enth, letting him reach on a single to left. A sacrifice bunt moved the runner to scor- ing position. The threat was erased, however, when catcher Zach Harbison threw out the runner as he attempted to steal third. A grounder to Ventimilia ended the inning.

Stanton walked the leadoff hitter in the eighth, then was called for a balk. Un- fazed even though that runner made it as far as third on a passed ball, he got the next three batters out to preserve the tie.

Chinook fans were encouraged when Tyler Krahn singled with two out in the top of the ninth, but Drew Smith, who ended up getting the win for the Miners, struck out the next batter.

The heartbreak happened quickly in the last frame as the number six Mat-Su batter singled. The next batter drove the ball to third, making Turbin hopeful that he could cut down the lead batter and set up a double play. The high throw ended that hope and left the Miner fans ecstatic.

It was another beautiful night for baseball, completely opposite of last season when rain and cold made the first part of the season miserable. The Palmer team was outfitted in camo jerseys in honor of military appreciation night. The Palmer High School band entertained with stirring marches during the game.

The Chinooks do not have a game tomorrow, travel to Mulcahy for a 7 p.m. game with the Glacier Pilots, are off on Friday and return to Mulcahy to play the Bucs on Saturday at 4 p.m.

They will be at home again on Sunday at 5 p.m. to host the Pilots in the final matchup of these two teams in the regular season.

Photo provided by Al Clemens