Fish Push Miners To The Brink With Memorable 9th Inning Comeback In Mat-Su Valley Finale, Fall 5-4

Game Recap by Lee Jordan

The skies again were sunny over Hermon Brothers Field tonight and the weath- er was warm, with a light (for Palmer) wind blowing. Things almost ended up pretty for the Chinooks.

As has happened so many times this season, the fish began to run late in the game. In this one they had the home crowd holding their collective breath in the top of the ninth inning. It was the last home game of the season for the Mat-Su Miners and it looked as though their early lead would be blown. But let’s keep the suspense hanging while the game is recapped.

As visitors looking for a sixth win for the season and their first regular-season victory over the neighboring Miners, the Chinooks were aggressive at the plate. With one out and two men on, the number three and number four batters each ran their counts well into double digits before missing.

Mat-Su’s starting pitcher Phillip Orr proved to be equal to the task, striking out five of the visitors in the first three innings. He had been bolstered in the top of the third when right-fielder Ben Wylly singled, then scored on a double. The inning ended when Chinooks right-fielder Griffin Gum saved another run by making a div- ing catch deep and close to the line in right.

Determined to stay in the game, the ’Nooks sent five men to the plate in the fourth, getting as far as third but seeing that runner and one other left stranded.

Fans on the visitors’ side were brought to their feet in the top of the fifth when Griffin Gum walked and stole second, at which bag he stood when Drew Tur- bin came to the plate. Turbin slapped one over the infield. Gum raced from second and slid safely across home plate, around the catcher’s tag, to put the fish on the board, knotting the game at one-all.

It didn’t stay there long. The Miners came up with one in their half to move ahead. They went on to score twice again in the bottom of the sixth on a single, a triple and a pitch that got away from the catcher.

Ryan Shackleford started the seventh inning with a single, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a double by Tyler Krahn. The fourth hitter in the inning hit into a double play to shut things down.

Unfazed, the Miners’ Ben Wylly lifted one over the fence where he patrols when in right field. The knock put his team up 5-2 – usually considered a fair lead the closer could finish off with a save.

They didn’t count on the Chinooks’ determination. Griffin Roark was hit by a pitch, moved up when Gum walked, then both went 90 feet farther when a balk was called. An error on the Miners’ second-baseman put Shackleford on and Daniel Arthur singled, scoring both Roark and Gum. The bases were loaded with one out when a player who just from the git-go had been having a bad night hit into a double play to end it, 5-4. It was close, but in sports, close only counts in horseshoes

The Chinooks were left with only five wins in league play. They hope to do more than get close Tuesday and Wednesday when the Miners visit Loretta French Park to wrap up the series. Game time both nights is 6 p.m. The Chinooks are off to- morrow night, preparing for the annual Showcase games and home run derby at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage. The team then returns for a big final week at home.

Cover Photo by Al Clemens