Pilots defeat Chinooks 11-6 on Military Appreciation Night

IMG_0485Box Score CHUGIAK – With a small army of active and former members of the U.S. Military on hand, the Chinooks fell to the Anchorage Glacier Pilots by a final of 11-6 on Wednesday at Loretta French Field. The Fish have now lost three in a row and stand at 1-5 in Alaska Baseball League action, while the Pilots’ 4-2 record in league play is tops in the National League.

More than 20 veterans from WWII, Vietnam, and Desert Storm lined up with the Chinooks on the third base side of the field, providing the Fish with the opportunity to thank them for their service. Each military branch was represented, and the Alaska Military Youth Academy took up half a section in the third base bleachers. A glorious National Anthem was performed, and Brigadier General Catherine Jorgensen hurled a perfect first pitch. The stage was set for an exciting night of baseball, and the two teams on the field would not disappoint.

Azusa Pacific’s Michael Fairchild got the starting nod for the Chinooks and responded by giving his club the chance to strike first after setting down the Pilots in order in the opening frame. Chugiak-Eagle River did just that, as Notre Dame’s James Nevant laced a triple to right center before Bret Collins (Vanguard) brought him in to give the home team their only lead of the game.

The 1-0 score wouldn’t hold for long, as Anchorage responded with a run of their own in the second inning. The ‘Nooks got another hit from Collins in the fourth, and after a sac bunt and a deep flyout to right, Princeton’s Billy Arendt drove him in with the second single of the inning. The fifth saw the Glacier Pilots respond in a big way, as outfielder Chester Pak stroked a bases-loaded triple before scoring four pitches later.

The home half of the fifth continued to keep those in attendance on the edge of their seats, as AJ Derr (Point Loma Nazarene), Griffith Roark (Oklahoma State) and Nevant each found ways to score. Each team plated a run in the eighth, and it was clear that the battle between the two clubs would not be easily won for either party.

Anchorage finally had enough of the back-and-forth, however, as five runs crossed the plate in the top half of the final frame. Highlighting the late inning effort was Nikko Saenz, who launched a pinch-hit three-run home run. Zach Freeman (New Mexico State) was on the wrong end of the Pilots’ big ninth, and the right hander was hit with his first loss of the summer. Fairchild allowed five runs over four innings before turning things over to Shane Armstrong (Hillsdale) and ultimately Freeman.

Nevant, Collins, and Cornerstone University’s Nick Covello combined for seven hits and four RBI for the home nine, while Pak’s four hit day and Saenz’ homer highlighted the effort for the visiting Glacier Pilots. The game featured 17 runs, 25 hits, and flawless defense, treating those that packed the park to a contest that easily lived up to its’ expectations.

Starter Dylan Nelson went 4.2 innings for the Pilots, surrendering five earned runs on six hits while striking out five and walking three. Taylor Kaczmarek and Tylor Megill combined for the next 2.2 frames before Cameron Pongs picked up the win for Anchorage after recording the final five outs of the game and benefitting from the offensive eruption.

Chugiak-Eagle River has their first scheduled off day of the summer on Thursday before returning to action on Friday against the Glacier Pilots in Anchorage. First pitch from Mulcahy Field is slated for 7:00 pm.

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