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Wasilla advances to semifinals, 6 others still in the mix at state baseball tournament

  • Author: Anchorage Daily News
  • Updated: July 28, 2020
  • Published July 26, 2020

Justin Nevells celebrates after scoring the winning run on Connor Lanehart's walkoff single in Chugiak's 4-3 victory over the Kenai Twins in the state tournament Sunday at Mulcahy Stadium. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Wasilla’s in, Kenai’s out, and everyone else is on pins and needles at the Alliance Baseball League state tournament.

The Wasilla Road Warriors posted their second shutout in three days Sunday, beating Juneau 3-0 at Mulcahy Stadium to clinch a spot in the tournament semifinals.

Six teams are battling for the remaining three spots heading into the final day of pool play Monday.

West meets Dimond at 5:30 p.m., and a West victory would send the Eagles to the semifinals with Wasilla as the top two teams from the Denali pool. A Dimond victory would create a three-way tie between Dimond, West and Juneau.

The stakes are similar in the 2 p.m. Alyeska pool game between Eagle River and Chugiak. If Eagle River wins, it advances along with South. If Chugiak wins, there’s a three-way tie between Chugiak, Eagle River and South.

Ties will be broken by runs allowed during pool play.

Chugiak is coming off Sunday’s dramatic 4-3 victory over the Kenai Twins, who were eliminated after going winless in three preliminary games.

Kenai Twins players make noise from the dugout during a three-run rally at the top of the seventh inning. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Connor Lanehart ripped a walkoff single to lift the Mustangs, and that was just part of the seventh-inning drama.

In the top of the inning, Kenai scored three runs tie the game 3-3. The Twins scores runs on an error, a sacrifice fly and an RBI single by Tanner Ussing, and with two out Harrison Metz stroked a double to move Ussing to third. That gave Kenai two runners in scoring position, but Chugiak relief pitcher Justin Nevells ended the threat with a strikeout.

Nevells was Chugiak’s leadoff batter in the bottom of the seventh, and he got into scoring position by reaching on an error and stealing second. He moved to third on Riley Fugera’s single and scored on Lanehart’s hit.

Kenai's Sam Berry makes it back to second base before the ball gets to Chugiak's Gabriel Gruszynski. (Bill Roth / ADN)
Chugiak pitcher Zach Cole watches the ball while working against a Kenai batter. Cole gave up one hit in six innings, struck out six and walked six. (Bill Roth / ADN)

In Eagle River’s 8-4 win in the late game, the Wolves got great production from the bottom of their lineup and South got none from the top of its.

Orazio Ramos, Braden Olmstead and Stefan Retzlaff -- Eagle River’s No. 7, No. 8 and No. 9 batters -- drove in a total of six runs. In the Wolves’ five-run first inning, Ramos belted a one-run double and two batters later Retzlaff hit a two-run single.

South got a combined 0-for-12 effort from the top four batters in its lineup and left the bases loaded twice while stranding 11 in all. Brandt Hultberg was 2 for 3 with two RBIs and Josh Costello was 3 for 3 and scored twice.

Ryan Gray, who pitched five innings in relief for Eagle River, twice ended South threats with strikeouts -- once in the fifth when the Wolverines had two runners on base and again in the seventh when they had the bases loaded.

Juneau batter Porter Nelson pops up a bunt that Wasilla catcher Max Wanser caught for an out in the third inning of Wasilla's 3-0 win. (Bill Roth / ADN)
Wasilla's Waylon Payne dives safely back to second base as Juneau's Isaiah Nelson waits for the ball. (Bill Roth / ADN)

In Wasilla’s win, Bryce Frazier pitched a complete-game three-hitter, allowing three hits while striking out two and walking two. He never faced more than four batters in an inning.

Three Juneau pitchers limited Wasilla to four hits but they walked seven. The Road Warriors scored on Jacob Gilbert’s third-inning double, Jacob Hansen’s fourth-inning sacrifice fly and Max Wanser’s sixth-inning sacrifice bunt.

Wasilla is the only team to finish pool play with a 3-0 record. The Road Warriors opened with a 2-0 win over top-seeded Dimond and outlasted West 10-8 before facing Juneau.

Wasilla's Bryce Frazier pitched a complete-game three-hitter during the Road Warriors 3-0 shutout victory over the Juneau Midnight Suns. (Bill Roth / ADN)
The Wasilla Road Warriors raise their hats and look toward the Juneau Midnight Suns after their 3-0 shutout victory. Traditionally teams meet on the diamond and shake hands, but not during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Next up for Wasilla is a semifinal game Tuesday at 2 p.m. against the second-place team from the Alyeska pool. West or Dimond will meet the first-place team from the Alyeska pool at 5:30 p.m.

The semifinal winners will play for the state championship Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

Alliance Baseball League state tournament

Sunday’s results

Chugiak 4, Kenai 3

Wasilla 3, Juneau 0

Eagle River 8, South 4

Monday’s games

2 p.m. -- Chugiak vs. Eagle River

5:30 p.m. -- West vs. Dimond

Juneau baserunner Luis Mojica is caught between second and third as Waylon Payne of Wasilla tosses the ball during a pickle that ended with Mojica being tagged out. (Bill Roth / ADN)

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