Chinooks tie exhibition at Miners with 9th inning rally before game called in 10th to save arms, prepare for league play

Game Recap by Lee Jordan

The Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks led the Mat-Su Miners in every category tonight. They had more hits, more outstanding plays in the field, threw more strikeouts—and, unfor- tunately, more men left on base. But they didn’t lose. After 10 innings and at 10 p.m., the non-league game at Palmer was called as a 2-2 tie in order to conserve pitchers for the Min- ers’ first league game tomorrow night.

Drawing first blood were the Miners who had their most productive inning of the night in the bottom of the third. The Mat-Su catcher gained a walk and Jack Amaro was hit by Chinook starting pitcher Lance Phillips. Both went on to score in an inning that featured what initially was called a triple play on a sparkling catch by Chinook right-fielder Griffin Gum. With the bases loaded and no one out, Christin Stewart pounded one into the gap in right-center. Thomas on third tagged up to await the catch. The other two runners, however, were on their horses with visions of a grand slam dancing in their heads.

The fleet-footed Gum raced to the fence to haul in the ball, then threw behind the runner who had left first. On an appeal that the runners had left too early, all three bases were tagged. Initially the signal was that the batter and two runners were out. Following a great deal of discussion, though, it was ruled that only the runner from first was guilty, meaning that both runs scored. It was not Gum’s only play, nor was he the only Chinook that rated a red star in the scorebook, but we’ll get to that later.

After four innings of stranding runners, the visiting team finally got on the scoreboard with two out in the fifth. Jake Murray singled and was held on first while Daniel Arthur compiled a full count. When the three-two pitch came across, the night’s designated hitter doubled down the left-field line. Going with the pitch from first base on the two-out full count, Murray slid across the plate under the tag.

After leaving 16 other runners stuck on base without any coming across, The ‘Nooks finally hit paydirt with one out in the ninth. Catcher Zach Harbison singled. Matt Kimmel, who had joined the team just the day before, was put in as a pinch-runner and advanced to second on a passed ball, then stole third. He was driven in by Stephen Ventilia. That feat rated another of the gold stars because the speedy shortstop, who hails from California and attends the University of Hawaii, beat out the throw by a whisker on the grounder to second.

The game thus knotted at two-all, each side went three up and three down in the tenth frame. Gum’s other gold star came with the third Miner out. What appeared to be a double into the gap was snared as the right-fielder slid to make the catch and save the game.

Each team had used five pitchers in the game. Although none had been overworked, it took a toll on the bullpen and threatened the Miners’ first league game coming up tomorrow.

The team has an off-day tomorrow. They host the Anchorage Glacier Pilots on Friday and on Saturday play the American Legion All-Stars from Eagle River and Chugiak high schools. Both games are at 7 p.m. at Loretta French Park.

During the seventh inning stretch on Saturday, the drawing will be held to determine the winner of an ounce of gold. Proceeds from the sale of tickets will be used to equip the new Chinooks Shack concession stand which is scheduled for completion June 30.