Nevant’s Late HR, Strong Bullpen Combine to Give Chinooks 4-3 Win over Bucs


CHUGIAK – The Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks held on for a narrow 4-3 victory over the Anchorage Bucs on Friday at Loretta French Park after an exciting final two innings. The Bucs were the only team the Chinooks hadn’t defeated in 2014, but the Fish ultimately snapped a five-game losing skid while simultaneously ending a four-game win streak for Anchorage.

Chugiak-Eagle River got the scoring started in the bottom of the first, when centerfielder Steve Pollex (Westmont) singled home Bret Collins (Vanguard) from third base. The Bucs waited until the third inning to respond, but did so with three runs that held up for the majority of the night.

Chinook starter Dan Przeniczny (Xavier) didn’t have his best outing but still managed to keep his team in the game. The right hander surrendered all three runs on five walks and two hit batters over his five innings before turning things over to Hillsdale’s Shane Armstrong for the sixth. Armstrong overcame three hits to give the Fish 3.1 scoreless innings on the bump.

Blake Estep made his first start of the year for the Bucs, allowing just one run over five frames before the bullpen took over. Phillip Wilson and Bret Marks then combined for two flawless innings, and Sean-Luke Brija was called on for the eighth. It was in the bottom of the eighth inning when the Chinooks knew they were running out of opportunities and ultimately capitalized.

Steven Karkenny (The Master’s) opened the frame with a single before Pollex followed with one of his own. West Virginia’s Jackson Cramer then reached on a fielder’s choice, bringing James Nevant to the plate with runners on the corners and just one gone. After working the count full, Notre Dame outfielder yanked one over the wall in left field, leaving his recent slump behind him and giving the Chinooks a 4-3 lead.

After a groundout and a pair of singles off of Armstrong, his day was over and Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Tell Taylor was called upon to pick up the game’s final two outs. With the tying run just 90 feet away, Taylor got Andy Crowley and Dylan Butler to strike out swinging, sending the Fish Faithful into a frenzy.

Armstrong went down as the man of record for the Chinooks, picking up his first victory over the year, while Taylor earned his first save. In a game that turned into a battle of bullpens, Brija got saddled with the loss for the Bucs, dropping the righty to 2-2 on the summer.

The Chinooks scattered a dozen base hits through the lineup, with John Popadics (The Master’s), Josh Altmann (Olivet Nazarene), Nevant and Pollex each sparking a multi-hit ballgame. Those four combined for nine of the team’s hits and all four RBI, while Billy Arendt (Princeton), Karkenny, and Collins added a hit apiece.

Shortstop Cade Reiten finished the night as the only Buc with more than one hit, as his three were good enough for half of his team’s production at the plate. Grant Palmer, Dylan Butler, and Mark Kreuger added a base hit, but the Chinooks ultimately proved a bit too much for Anchorage to handle.

The Chinooks will march in the annual Bear Paw Festival Parade in Eagle River before their contest on Saturday night against the Mat-Su Miners. If you would like to visit the Chinooks booth during the Festival, you can find them at Booth #205 across the street from Garcia’s Restaurant.

The final game before a trip to Fairbanks will be Meet the Chinooks night at Loretta French, with the players signing autographs and kids running the bases after the game. First pitch is set for 7:00 pm.