‘Nooks WIN Back to Back Games On The Road, Defeating First Place Bucs 3-2 Saturday In Anchorage

Game Recap By Lee Jordan

There was joy in Chugiak-Eagle River tonight as the cellar-dwelling Chinooks edged the league-leading Anchorage Bucs, 3-2, at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage.

Gritty play on the turf backed up the “We’re on our way” message given after the 17-2 drubbing of the Glacier Pilots there on Thursday night. The message was not exactly clear, however, until the last pitch was thrown in the bottom of the ninth.

Getting the well-deserved win tonight was Caleb Dirks, a returning pitcher from the 2012 Chinooks team. He went through five innings, giving up one run on only a couple of hits while striking out four and walking three.

With the lead-off batter flying out to center to start the game, third-baseman Drew Turbin, another second-year player, earned a walk, was moved to second and then to third, coming in to score on a single by first-sacker Tyler Krahn.

The Bucs put their lead-off hitter on with a single, then saw him driven in on a single by the number three batter, their designated hitter.

The score remained knotted at one-all as Dirks and the Bucs’ ace, 6’6″ Garrett Mundell, mowed down opposing batters. Until the top of the fifth, that is. That’s when Chinooks left-fielder Jake Murray, batting in the number-eight hole, surprised the home team with a perfectly placed bunt and ran it out safely. He was sacrificed to second by shortstop Steve Ventimilia and then scored on a single by second- baseman Nick Covello. Covello in turn scored on a single by Turbin. Turbin’s hit marked the end of the line for the Bucs’ starter.

It was a defensive gem for both sides. Dirks was pulled after five and reliever Devin Stanton came on to quickly retire the side in both the sixth and seventh frames. Things got hairy for the Chinooks, though, with one out in the bottom of the seventh. The number-nine Bucs batter was plunked by an errant pitch. Another one in the dirt got past catcher Daniel Salters and rolled all the way to the backstop, which at Mulcahy is a bit farther back than at other ABL fields. The victimized hit- ter saw the opportunity to gain 180 feet on the fish. He did not, however, reckon on the determination of the visitors that carried over from their big win two days ear- lier. Salters stretched his long legs, snared the errant sphere and fired a strike to Tur- bin, nailing the runner at third. The play earned a red star in the scorebook.

Still unsettled in the bottom of the eighth and with visions of two walk-off heartbreakers earlier in the young season, a chill went through the fans on the first- base side where the red jerseys were seated. Skies were cloudy and the temperature had fallen from the record highs set over the previous two weeks. The mid-60s read- ing and light breeze cut through to the bone.

The Bucs’ number-two hitter led off with a single. He moved to second on a fielder’s choice, then found himself on third after an error and a walk, coming around to score on another error–the only two made in the game by the Chinooks. Lance Phillips, who had taken over from Stanton in the seventh, got the inning’s seventh batter to fly out to deep center where Collin Radack hauled it in for the third out.

Nerves were still frayed in the ninth when a pinch-hitter for the number-nine- hole Buc was struck out by Phillips, only to have the next batter walk on four straight pitches. That was it. Determination took over. Phillips got the second out on a pop-up to short and struck out the number-three hitter, whose batting average was well over 400, on three pitches.

The joy at the ballpark was felt all the way to Chugiak and beyond–even to the home of the Mat-Su Miners who had a vested interest in the outcome of the game at Mulcahy.

Tomorrow (Sunday) the Chinooks host the Glacier Pilots in the final regular- season meeting of those two teams this year. Unable to win the seven-game series, the fish hope to make it three and four. Game time is 5 p.m.

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