Chinooks late rally comes up just short in ABL opener

Game Recap by Lee Jordan

Despite mostly sunny skies at Loretta French Park, the Fairbanks Goldpanners rained on the Chinooks’ parade tonight. Fans waited for the come-from-behind sev- enth-inning rally that saved their bacon in the first two games, but it did not come in that frame, nor in the next, and too little, too late in the final inning. The bottom of the ninth held out hope when two were on after a run scored and the middle of the order was up to bat. Hopes were dashed, however, when the ‘Panner first baseman fielded a hard-hit grounder and stepped on the bag. It ended 5-4, Fairbanks.

The Chinooks drew first blood in the bottom of the first when Shortstop Stephen Ventimilia walked and scored from first when, with two out, Catcher Daniel Salters doubled to the fence in right-center.

Fairbanks catcher Jim Sinatro tied the game with a two-out homer over left- center in the second inning.

Chinooks third-baseman Drew Turbin put the home team ahead again when he led off the bottom of the second getting a free pass when the Fairbanks pitcher’s curve hit in on the arm. Second sacker Nick Covello doubled with two out to drive in Turbin.

Home team fans began to feel good about the first league game of the season when Collin Radack hit a sharp grounder to the ‘Panner shortstop–who promptly threw the ball over his first baseman’s head to allow the Chinooks’ left fielder to coast in to second.

Their hopes dimmed, however, when the first three batters to face starter Mike Jeffreys in the top of the fifth were able to score. He was pulled with two out and Caleb Dirks took over, striking out the second batter he faced to end the inning.

Unlike the first two non-league games for the Chinooks, it was the Goldpanners who did the scoring in the seventh, getting three hits off Dirks, the third one driving in both preceding runners.

The Chinooks were stifled until the bottom of the ninth. Covello had been at bat in the bottom of the eighth when a runner tried to score from third only to find Sal- ters waiting at the plate with the ball in hand. Within 10 feet of the plate, the runner turned and tried to retreat, but Salters ran him down for the third out. Starting the ninth with a new count, Covello doubled, then took third on a wild pitch. He scored on a sacrifice fly.

The loss was a poor birthday present for General Manager Chris Beck, who turned 41 today. He was surprised when public address announcer Dave Stroh ad- vised the crowd that the skipper was to do the honors. The pitch was taken by mid- dle son Jackson, mercifully called a strike by wife Danielle Beck, “umpire pro tem.”

The team travels to Palmer tomorrow night for another non-league contest with the Mat-Su Miners at 7 p.m.

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Volume II, Game 3 June 11, 2013

Chugiak-Eagle River Victorious in Home Opener

Game Recap provided by Lee Jordan

It was another sunny day in Chugiak as the Chinooks welcomed fans to Loretta French Park for their home opener. It was the second of four non-league games during the 2013 season and a repeat contest with the Mat-Su Miners. Game 1 was played at Hermon Brothers Field on the Palmer Fairgrounds and featured some drama as the Chinooks came from be- hind to win, 6-4.

There were fewer dramatics tonight, although the home team again had to come from behind to win, 3-1. As the score indicates, there was more defensive action than offensive.

Mat-Su scored first, in the top of the first, after a bunt was thrown away to allow the hitter to end up on second. That hitter advanced to third, then was brought home. Center- fielder Collin Radack had to traverse a lot of territory to haul in a high fly deep to right cen- ter to get the second out. Chinooks pitcher Andrew Klausmeier was able to head to the dug- out when catcher Daniel Salters threw out a Miners runner attempting to steal second.

Third-sacker Drew Turbin tied the game in the bottom of the seventh after he singled, advanced to second on a passed ball, then scored on right-fielder Griffin Gum’s scorching double to right.

Bryce Clifton took over the mound in the top of the sixth and immediately found his first Miner batter aboard on a bunt. That runner moved up on a sacrifice bunt. The second out came on a pop-up to second. A great play by Stephen Ventimilia at shortstop retired the side when he dove to smother a hard grounder close to the bag and deep, then hopped up to make the strong throw to Tyler Krahn at first.

Clifton then got three quick outs to put his offense back onto the field, getting a ground out to first, another to third and a fly out to center. In the bottom of the seventh Ryan Shackelford singled to right, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch, then scored on a fielder’s choice.

Chinook Max Bruckner took over the mound in the eighth and promptly got a popup to center, a high fly that he handled himself and a ground out, third to first. Krahn drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the eighth, stole second and scored with two out when Jacob Murray slapped a single past the first baseman.

Bruckner closed down the Miners one-two-three on fly balls to the outfield, the second one causing Radack to race back to the fence to make the catch. Clifton was the winning pitcher.

Tomorrow night in the Chinooks’ first league game, the storied Fairbanks Goldpanners come to Chugiak. The ’Panners are always a threat.

Throwing out the first pitch to open tonight’s game was Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan who was presented with a baseball autographed by the entire 2013 Chinooks team.

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