Fish Fall 5-4 to Pilots to Close Out Month of June

Box Score ANCHORAGE – The Chinooks looked like they would close the month of June with a victory over the Glacier Pilots on Sunday afternoon at Mulcahy Field, but the home team obviously had other plans with a 5-4 walk off win.

Chugiak-Eagle River held the lead from the third inning until the final play of the ball game.  In that third inning, Billy Arendt led off the inning with a triple and came home for the first run of the game on a Steve Karkenny double.  Karkenny came home on a pair of miscues by Pilots pitcher, Dylan Nelson.  A pickoff attempt ended up in center field which allowed Karkenny to advance to third base followed by a wild pitch that brought the second run of the inning home for the Chinooks.

Aside from his RBI double in the third, Karkenny also tripled in the first and fifth innings.  He would score in the fifth on a groundout by Jackson Cramer to make it 4-0 in favor of the Fish.  Steven Pollex and Kyle Conkle would also add two hits apiece over the course of the afternoon for the guest at Mulcahy.

Despite the four runs allowed by Nelson, the Pilots hurler ended his day after the fifth inning with nine strikeouts.  Cameron Pongs relieved Nelson in the sixth inning and would proceed to hold the ‘Nooks offense in check with four scoreless innings in route to the winning decision.  The two pitchers for the Pilots would hold the Chinooks to just one base hit out of eight opportunities with runners in scoring position (that was the before mentioned double by Karkenny).  This has been one category that has plagued the Chinooks over their now six game losing streak.

The Chinooks pitching tandem of Michael Fairchild and Shane Armstrong hurled eight strong inning to rival the Nelson and Pongs duo.  Despite 11 Pilot base hits and six walks combined, they were able to wiggle in and out of jams the entire contest.  The Pilots had bases loaded situations in the second inning and again in the fifth with no outs that would force the Chinooks to make the move to the bullpen and call upon Armstrong in relief of Fairchild.

The first batter Armstrong faced resulted in one of the strangest double plays anyone could see.  Trevor Podratz hit a line drive over the Chinooks left fielder Bret Collins that allowed Justin Protacio to score the first run for the Pilots, but Chester Pak slipped on the turf trying to score from second.  This caused a log jam at third base as Pak retreated, but Kevin Viers was at the same base as Chinooks catcher Geoff Murphy walked the throw to the plate back to third base where both runners stood.  Murphy proceeded to tag the lead runner Pak, but Viers left third base in an attempt to get away from the tag as well.  He then was caught in another run down for the second out on the play.  Armstrong would then strike out the next batter to get out of the inning.

Apart from another run in the sixth, relievers Armstrong and Pongs were in command of the game on the hill for their teams.  The bottom of the ninth would see the Pilots load the bases for the third time of the game on two walks and a hit-by-pitch from Armstrong.  The ‘Nooks then called upon Zach Freeman to get out of the jam.

Viers singled the first pitch out of the right hand of Freeman to make it a 4-3 score.  Then it was Podratz at the plate again for the Pilots.  With the infield drawn in to make the force-out at home plate, Podratz rolled over on an 0-2 pitch from Freeman to the Chinooks shortstop, Josh Altmann.  Altmann fielded it cleanly, but made a wide throw to the catcher Murphy at home allowing the runner to score easily and allow Pak to redeem himself on his earlier base running blunder as he came home to score the winning run for the Glacier Pilots.

The Chinooks are now 2-5 head-to-head with the Pilots.  Four of the five losses have come in the final at-bats, and four out of five have come by a combined five runs.

Through 18 games in the month of June, the Chinooks take a 4-14 record on the road Tuesday to Kenai to square off against the Peninsula Oilers on July 1.