The semifinals for the CIC baseball tournament took place on Wednesday night at Mulcahy Stadium saw the top two seeds advance to Thursday’s title game. The reigning Division I high school state champion South Anchorage Wolverines will play the second seeded Eagle River Wolves after both teams claimed decisive victories in second round of the tourney.
In the first game of the night, the Wolves found themselves down to Chugiak 1-0 after the first two innings but would go on to score six unanswered runs to close out the game and punch their ticket to the next round with a 6-1 win.
“I think it’s the first time in our program’s history that we’ve made it this far so I’m happy for the players,” Eagle River coach Bill Lierman said.
Eagle River tied the game in the top of the third inning thanks to a run from freshman Liam Lierman that was a result of a hit by senior Connor Johnson with the RBI. The Wolves scored the tie-breaking run in the top of the fourth when Joshua Thompson brought fellow junior Jack Molloy to home plate with a hit.
“I think it’s our intensity with our at bats,” Lierman said. “We’re a tough lineup to get one through nine and any pitcher who faces us is going to have to be dialed with every single hitter. Over the course of the game we’re going to be tough and give tough at bats and that showed today.”
Lierman’s team scored a pair of runs in the top of the fourth and fifth innings to close out the game. The Wolves didn’t yet know who’d they’d face in the championship game but Lierman said it didn’t matter because all the teams in the conference are familiar with one another.
“In our league, all the CIC team know each other pretty well and have their stats on each and every kid so I think they know us just as well as we know them,” Lierman said.
The second game of semifinal doubleheader featured a fierce battle between pitchers but senior Luke Ivanoff and Wolverines ultimately prevailed over the Dimond Lynx thanks to some aggressive base running in a 5-2 triumph.
“It was a pretty good pitchers’ battle today,” Ivanoff said. “He was throwing strikes. He was getting in the zone and we just came out on top.”
South head coach Taylor Nerland wanted to give his regular starting pitcher, Isaac Johnson an extra day of rest and was confident in Invanoff’s ability to come through in his stead.
“Luke has been doing it all year for us and did a great job with kind of mixing it up and keeping them off balance,” Nerland said.
After a scoreless first three innings, four Wolverines scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth without recording a single hit.
“You didn’t know which way it was going to go those first four innings or so,” Nerland said. “I’m really proud of our guys for sticking with things we worked on from the get go.”
They scored using a combination of walks, steals, wild pitches and passed balls. South nearly had a fifth but sophomore Kaden Bevegni was called out on a play at home. Sean Giffin, Kurtis Herbert and AJ Sawicki and Ben Neuberger all scored for South in the inning.
“You take what the other team gives you,” Nerland said. “We were selective at the plate, got on base, use some of our speed, used some good base running technique to manufacture runs.”
Dimond did their best to battle back at the top of the sixth inning with a pair of runs off of one hit. Unfortunately for the Lynx, they weren’t able to replicate that success at the top of the seventh where Ivanoff closed out the game and strong night on the mound for the Wolverines.
The Wolverines will face off with the Wolves for the fourth time this season on Thursday. Even though South came out on top of their previous three meetings, Nerland says those outcomes have no baring on the impending conference title bout.
“They’re a solid squad, well coached, disciplined so we’re going to to come not thinking about any of those other games,” Nerland said. “Those games don’t matter when it comes down to it.”