Goldpanners eliminated at NBC World Series

Alaska Dispatch News
Loren Holmes photo

The Fairbanks Goldpanners were eliminated from the National Baseball Congress World Series and ended their season Wednesday after playing from behind all game and grounding into three inning-ending double plays.

The Goldpanners fell 4-3 to the San Diego Waves in Wichita, Kansas, where the field of 30 teams chasing the championship of summer baseball was winnowed to four teams by night’s end.

The Panners, champions of the Alaska Baseball League, went 2-2 in the double-elimination tournament the franchise has won a record six times, most recently in 2002.

Fairbanks trailed 4-2 entering the top of the ninth inning, when leadoff hitter Hunter Villanueva reached on an infield error and advanced to second base on Kris Paulino’s single. The runners advanced a base on pinch-hitter Eric Hutting’s ground-out and Villanueva scored on Ryan Clark’s sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 4-3.

But Scott Hurst’s comebacker finished the game.

Waves left-hander Bob Kraft furnished his second complete game in five days, throwing 129 pitches, scattering eight hits and allowing just two earned runs. Kraft on Saturday went nine innings and threw 96 pitches in a 6-3 loss to the Hays (Kansas) Larks.

Panners starter Joel Belk took the loss. He gave up three runs, all unearned, in four innings.

San Diego took a 1-0 lead on Andrew McWilliams’ RBI single and pushed its advantage to 3-0 with two runs in the third inning.

Fairbanks cut its deficit to 3-1 on Villanueva’s two-out RBI single in the fourth and trimmed San Diego’s lead to 3-2 on Hurst’s RBI single in the fifth.

San Diego plated an unearned run in eighth to regain a two-run cushion at 4-2.