Chugiak-Eagle River Late Rally Falls Short In First Of Three Against ‘Panners in Fairbanks

There was ninth inning drama tonight in Fairbanks, but too little came too late once again. The Goldpanners came out on top, 7-4.

Ninth-inning drama consisted of analyzing the strategy going through the minds of the teams’ managers. With Fairbanks ahead 7-2 going into the top of the ninth, the Goldpanners put in relief pitcher Joey Capistran. Chugiak-Eagle River right-fielder Griffin Gum, who was two-for-three with a double and a triple, was up. He drove the first pitch deep, ending up on second for the second time in the evening.

That brought up first-sacker Tyler Krahn, hitless in three at-bats. Krahn poked a single through, scoring Gum. Left-fielder Chance Guspeth made it to first safely. Catcher Zach Harbison singled, driving in Krahn who had advanced. Shortstop Stephen Ventimilia came up and grounded to the ’Panner shortstop, who threw out Harbison at second for the first out.

That brought up the top of the Chinooks’ order with but one out and two runners aboard.

Now the strategy quandary: For the Chinooks, do you go to the bench or leave in your starting lineup? For Fairbanks, do you chance loading the bases with the always-dangerous Collin Radack waiting his turn at bat? A grand slam would put the fish one run up. Was a fireman sufficiently warmed up in the bullpen?

The Chinook decision: Yes. The Fairbanks choice: No.

The result you already know from the headline and the lead-in to this article.

Was it better pitching from the home team, poor hitting from the visitors, or the long ride between Chugiak-Eagle River and the Golden Heart city that made the difference? This writer can’t answer because he was not there and depended solely on the impersonal play-by-play seen on his new computer.

Goldpanner starter Mikey Ramirez was in the hole early when Chinooks designated hitter Nick Covello got on on an error when he led off at the top of the first. He moved to second on second-baseman Griffith Roark’s ground- out, then made it to third on a passed ball. He was left there, however, on two straight strikeouts.

Chinook starter Caleb Dirks was masterful in the bottom of the first, get- ting two ground outs and a pop fly to set the opposition down one, two, three. Gum got his triple to lead off the second, but was left stranded there when

Ramirez enticed the next three batters to hit softly into the infield.
It was the bottom of the second when trouble struck. The first batter singled, the second walked on a full count, the third was out on a successful bunt that moved both men up 90 feet. The next batter doubled in both runs. Following him was number-eight-hole batter Alex Rubanowitz who got a two- run knock.

Visitor Ventimilia tripled in the bottom of the third, then scored on Covel- lo’s sacrifice fly to right. Gum added the second run after doubling in the fourth and scored on an error handling Harbison’s hit through second.

Fairbanks added three insurance runs in the fifth.

Kenny Knudsen came in in relief to start the bottom of the sixth and held the ’Panners scoreless, giving up only two hits in three innings of work.

The Chinooks play two more in Fairbanks before coming back to enjoy a day off, then travel to Palmer for a pair of games. Their next home game will be Tuesday, July 16, when they host the Mat-Su Miners at 6 p.m. and again at that hour on Wednesday.

Two big events are coming up the following week. On Monday, July 22, the team will celebrate Fan Appreciation Night at 6 p.m. There will be lot of prizes and a chance to meet the players and get pictures. The last scheduled game will be Military Appreciation Night on Saturday, July 27, also at 6 p.m. It caps a big week of events, including the MLBN Strike Zone sponsored by Matanuska Telephone Association on Friday, the 26th.