‘Panners Finish off Peninsula with Eight-Run Sixth

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CORAL SEYMOUR MEMORIAL FIELD – The Goldpanners entered their final game with Kenai knowing that they had not only wrapped up a spot in the ABL Championship, but also home field for the three-game series. Except the ‘Panners won’t return to Growden Memorial Park this season. Finances and complications with flights to Wichita will bring the “Top of the World” Series to Anchorage, where Fairbanks hosts at the neutral site.

But that didn’t stop the ‘Panner bats from coming to play. And the Goldpanners beat the Oilers for the eighth time this season with a 13-10 win.

Joel Belk got the start but didn’t go deep into the game to retain the possibility of him throwing in the championship series with Mat-Su. Belk went just 2.2 innings and allowed a pair of hits without surrendering an earned run. Unfortunately, he did give up two unearned runs before giving the ball over to Chasen Ford.

Peninsula failed to hold onto a pair of one-run leads in the first four innings. The Oilers struck first in the second when Ryan Clark bobbled a ground ball with two outs and a man on third. The sharply hit ball took an in-between hop on the third baseman and gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead.

Jacob Hayes singled home Cody Nulph in the top of the third after Nulph reached with a push bunt down the first base line. But the ‘Panners couldn’t get any more after Oilers starter Scott Torrey caught the ‘Panners’ leading basestealer going early from first.

Kenai went back ahead in the third when a Belk error on a sacrifice attempt set up an Alex Rubanowitz sac fly. The Oilers gave it right back when Torrey botched a bunt himself. Hunter Villanueva wound up all the way at third when the Oilers finally tracked down the errant throw. Scott Hurst didn’t waste any time singling Villanueva home with a line drive through the middle.

Fairbanks got three in the fifth when it loaded the bases with no outs after Jacob Hayes beat out his sacrifice bunt attempt. It was the third hit of the afternoon for the do-it-all right fielder. Vahn Bozoian singled home two runs immediately after and Villanueva added an RBI single two batters later.

Ford got the ‘Panners through five with a 5-4 lead before his side put together another monster inning to seal his fifth win of the summer.

Eric Hutting led off an eight-run sixth with his fourth home run of the season. The Goldpanners pounded out six hits thereafter, highlighted by a three-run shot off the bat of Tanner Pinkston. Pinkston’s fourth long ball of the year, and first since his walk-off in the home finale, made it 11-4. Fairbanks tacked on two more before it was all over.

Andrew Buehler completed the last four innings in relief to notch the save. Buehler was hit for two runs in the sixth, but held the Oilers at bay otherwise until the ninth when Peninsula added some meaningless scoring. The ‘Panners’ pitching struck out just two batters all afternoon, but also walked just one. They will play one more game against the Bucs tomorrow before beginning a three-game set for the ABL Championship with the Miners Tuesday.

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‘Panners Split Doubleheader, Clinch Spot in ABL Championship

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CORAL SEYMOUR MEMORIAL FIELD – After a rain-washed day yesterday, the Goldpanners resumed play with a scheduled doubleheader against the Oilers – looking to wrap up the American League division title. And even with a split of the two games with Kenai, Fairbanks walked away with its second straight division championship. The ABL transitioned to the divisional format after the 2012 season. The ‘Panners took game one by a score of 5-1 and fell 7-2 in game two.

Fairbanks jumped out to an early lead when Cody Nulph snapped out of an 0-for-11 slump with his team-leading ninth home run of the season. The two-run blast sailed over the left-fielder’s head. Tyler Mildenberg eventually scored the third run of the inning when Eric Hutting capped a streak of five straight ‘Panner hits with an RBI single.

Jayson Balades became the seventh different ‘Panner to start in the team’s last seven games and continued the staff’s recent success holding opponents to three runs or less. The Goldpanners have allowed just seven total runs in the seven-game streak.

The lefty contained the Oilers’ offense for five innings, just allowing a solo home run in the second. Balades kept his infielders honest with seven ground ball outs in his five innings of work – especially Tyler Mildenberg. The second baseman put out seven of Balades’ 11 ground ball outs, including all three in the fifth. He recorded put out in every inning but the third and finished with nine on the game.

The ‘Panners opened it up late with five runs in the last three innings. An inning after making a great play reaching over the fence down the left field line in foul territory, Jacob Hayes connected for an RBI triple off the wall in right center. And Vahn Bozoian kept pace with Nulph when he lifted his ninth home run of the year to straightaway center. The blast cleared the bases for three runs and made it 8-1. All the runs came off of the Oilers starting pitcher Nick Rogowski. Rogowski completed the game for Kenai, which also got a complete game effort in Thursday’s loss.

Andrew Buehler completed the last two innings, getting all of his outs on the ground. He allowed just one baserunner via a single in the sixth and was flawless otherwise.

In the second game, Fairbanks finally lost a game to the Oilers, 7-2. The loss marks the teams first against Peninsula all year. The Goldpanners have now lost at least once to each of the other five ABL opponents.

Torgen Soderlund got the start, which continued the run of different ‘Panners to start a game on the road trip. Soderlund threw well, but could only get through 4.1 innings. The Fairbanks native allowed two runs on three hits and surrendered all of the damage in the second inning.

Drake Zarate hit a solo homer to lead things off in the second and Alex Rubanowitz came around to score after a single. All of the hits Soderlund allowed in the game also came in that single inning.

Both sides cruised through the third, fourth and fifth before the Oilers took command in their half of the sixth. After Mike Benson came in on relief in the fifth to strike out consecutive batters with the bases loaded, Kenai got to the Fairbanks ace in the sixth. Mylz Jones crushed a three-run home run that put an exclamation point on a five-run inning.

The Goldpanners threatened by loading the bases in the sixth, but couldn’t score. Nolan Sheridan came on to strike out Tyler Mildenberg and get Cody Nulph to bounce out to third base. And the Oilers retained their shutout.

Jacob Hayes did end the scoreless evening with a two-out two-run home run in the seventh that landed in the trees beyond the right field fence. Hayes evened up with Nulph and Bozoian with his ninth home run and now has the chance to be the only ‘Panner with double-digit homers and stolen bases.

Despite the loss, a bevvy of rainouts reduced the ‘Panners’ magic number to zero by the end of Saturday’s games. Fairbanks will face Mat-Su in the ABL Championship with the only question being where the game will happen. The ‘Panners have one more game with the Oilers tomorrow before traveling back to Anchorage to finish the season.

Fairbanks Wins Rain-Shortened Game in Kenai

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CORAL SEYMOR MEMORIAL PARK – The Goldpanners made their one and only trip to the Southernmost location of the Alaska Baseball League Thursday. And Fairbanks took an abbreviated game one with a 6-0 win in five innings over the Kenai Peninsula Oilers.

With cool temperatures and a steady drizzle beginning about 30 minutes prior to first pitch, the coaches and umpires agreed to try to get the game in – determined to avoid another rainout. And the two teams obliged with an hour-long game that lasted five innings.

Mike Benson, Tylor Megill

Mike Benson, Tylor Megill

Tylor Megill made quick work of the Oilers with the first complete game for the Goldpanners all summer. Granted it was a rain-shortened game, Megill still dominated over five shutout innings. The tall right-hander struck out seven and allowed just two hits without walking an Oilers.

Fairbanks came through with five runs in the second inning that took any suspense out of the game early. With both sides figuring the game would go just five innings, a quick 5-0 lead gave the ‘Panners a pretty comfortable cushion. Kris Paulino delivered the big hit of the inning with a two-run double. And the fifth through ninth batters in the ‘Panners lineup all scored in the inning. Six different ‘Panners collected the team’s six hits.

DSCN9991Kenai never really threatened and was only able to advance one runner to second base in the game. Megill earned his fourth win of the summer and Fairbanks reduced its magic number to two before any other ABL games even began.

Game two of the series will begin with a first pitch at 6 PM tomorrow. And the players will return to spend their first night at the infamous “Bingo Hilton.” The Oilers’ sponsored bingo hall also serves as a lodge for the visiting teams.

‘Panner Pitching Continues to Dominate

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MULCAHY STADIUM – Going on the road can have its perks, too. And for a Goldpanner pitching staff, getting away from Growden Park might have been the best thing that could have happened all season. Fairbanks held its opponent under three for the fifth straight league game on the current road trip to cruise to a 9-1 win.

Jace Puckett

Jace Puckett

A day after both Russell Harmening and Chasen Ford put together their best outings of the summer, Jace Puckett followed suit with a near flawless start to beat the Anchorage Glacier Pilots. Puckett went five innings and surrendered just three baserunners – two of which he picked off.

The nifty left-hander fooled a pair of Glacier Pilots in the first inning when caught both Justin Protacio and Kevin Viers with his move to first base. Protacio reached on a walk, while Viers singled with two outs and the bases empty. And neither looked comfortable trying to get a jump against Puckett, who settled down after erasing the two baserunners.

He didn’t go deep into the game, but five innings of one-hit ball was plenty to earn Puckett his team-leading fifth win of the season. He walked one more Pilot in the second before retiring every other batter he faced, with the exception of when Clayton Taylor reached on an error in the fifth. But Puckett pitched right around the misplay from his defense.

Meanwhile, the Goldpanners struggled with the bats after a resounding start to the game by Brandon Caruso. The ‘Panner left fielder led off the game with his first home run of the season when he lined a ball just over the fence in left. But the fast start didn’t amount to much else early. Anchorage’s starter Dylan Nelson retired the next 14 batters he faced.

Scott Hurst (14)

Scott Hurst (14)

It was Scott Hurst who finally broke up Nelson’s run when he worked a seven-pitch walk in the top of the fifth. And things quickly came undone for Nelson after that. Tyler Mildenberg tripled to deep center to score Hurst on the very next pitch and then Eric Hutting homered on the following Nelson offering to make it 4-0 Fairbanks, just like that. Three pitches, three baserunners, three runs.

After the breakthrough with two outs in the fifth, the Goldpanners pulled away when Vahn Bozoian sent a home run well onto the football field beyond left field at The Mulc. If there was ever a time Bozoian had a chance to hit the Curling Club in Fairbanks, this would have been it. Unfortunately, Growden Park was 360 miles North, but it didn’t stop the ‘Panner DH from admiring his no-doubter that made it 6-0.

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Luke Barker came in to pitch the sixth and seventh and recorded four strikeouts. Barker had his nasty split-finger working and the Pilots didn’t have much of a chance. His two shutout innings ran the Fairbanks streak of consecutive shutout innings to 13. Anchorage had also yet to advance a man as far as third base.

The Pilots finally did score in the eighth to the delight of their rather large crowd celebrating “Fan Appreciation Night.” Torgen Soderlund allowed the RBI single, but finished up the last two innings to complete his second ballgame in as many days.

Tyler Mildenberg singled in the ninth and scored on Eric Hutting’s second blast of the evening. The eight and nine spots in the Goldpanners’ lineup were productive once again. Mildenberg collected three hits, while Hutting launched a pair of two-run homers.

With the Bucs idle on Wednesday night, the Goldpanners picked up another half game in the American League standings and took another step toward clinching a spot in the ABL Championship against the Mat-Su Miners. Fairbanks travels to Kenai for a five-game set with the Oilers and have the chance to leave with the American League crown if things go well.

Fairbanks and Mat-Su Win One Apiece

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HERMON BROTHERS FIELD – Tuesday’s doubleheader featured a potential ABL Championship preview that is becoming more and more likely with each passing day. In their only trip to Palmer on the schedule, the Goldpanners split a doubleheader with the National League champs, losing the first game 1-0 before regrouping for a 10-1 win.

Russell Harmening

Russell Harmening

Like the two games with the Bucs on Monday, game one was a fierce pitcher’s duel the entire way. Russell Harmening made his second start and came through with his best outing of the summer, but nothing would have been good enough to beat Tyler Stubblefield on this particular day. As the Miners’ ace bested the Goldpanners.

The lefty from Texas A&M allowed just three hits and struck out 11 ‘Panners. And he didn’t issue a walk in his third complete game of the summer. Stubblefield did not throw hard, sitting around 88 MPH the entire way, but he had the ‘Panners out in front of a straight changeup and a breaking ball.

Meanwhile, Russell Harmening didn’t give up any ground to Mat-Su. The reigning Golden State Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year had his command working with all of his pitches and caught four Miners looking at strike three before finally getting a swinging strikeout in the fifth. Harmening escaped his biggest jam in the fourth when he stabbed a comebacker with the bases loaded to keep the game scoreless.

Andrew Buehler (13-14)

Andrew Buehler (13-14)

But Mat-Su broke through in the sixth with consecutive hits off of Harmening to force him from the game. Andrew Buehler came in with runners of second and third and no outs and got Jonny Locher to hit a short fly ball to center. Mat-So Head Coach Ben Taylor decided to test Jacob Hayes’ arm in center with the game scoreless, which didn’t work out well. Hayes gunned down the runner at home for a spectacular double play. But the Miners responded with a hit into left field. Brandon Caruso’s throw arrived a fraction of the second too late and the Miners got Stubblefield the run he needed. He struck out Eric Hutting with Scooter Bynum on first to finish game one.

Jacob Hayes (14)

Jacob Hayes (14)

Game two saw more great ‘Panner pitching that Mat-Su could not maintain for the last seven innings. Chasen Ford made his first start since coming out of the bullpen for 4.1 innings against the Miners back in Fairbanks. And, like Harmening, Ford dealt his best start of the season with six innings of work.

Brandon Caruso (14)

Brandon Caruso (14)

The ‘Panners certainly helped out their starter with a crooked number in the first. Miners starter Seve Romo lasted just a third of an inning against Fairbanks, striking out Brandon Caruso to lead off the game before the next seven batters reached. Jacob Hayes got into one for his eighth home run of the year to regain a share of the team lead. And three Goldpanners followed Hayes’ two-run shot with RBI singles. Tyler Mildenberg’s sharply hit line drive sent Romo to the dugout after recording only a single out.

Ford conceded a run in the first when Paul Panaccione singled and the Miners bunted him over. Jonny Locher came through with a two-out RBI single, but that would be the only run Ford gave up all night. The Yale starting pitcher gave up just two hits after the first inning and didn’t walk a man until the fifth. He set down 11 Miners in a row from the end of the first inning to the start of the fifth.

Gero von Dehn and Elliott Strankman

Gero von Dehn and Elliott Strankman

After a couple quick middle innings, where I got the chance to take over the Pannervision play-by-play duties temporarily, Fairbanks added insurance in the fourth, fifth and seventh. Jacob Hayes and Tanner Pinkston did most of the damage, driving in two runs apiece in both the fourth and fifths. But it was really wasn’t necessary.

Even with the loss, Mat-Su’s earlier win coupled with a Glacier Pilots loss was enough to clinch the National League division crown by the day’s end. The Miners will play in the ABL Championship against either the Goldpanners or Bucs. But with a Chinooks win over the Bucs on Tuesday, Fairbanks now holds a commanding three-game lead in the division, including a six-game advantage in the loss column. The ‘Panners play one game against the Glacier Pilots tomorrow before making their one, and only, trip to Kenai for a series with the Oilers.

Goldpanners Take Two at Mulcahy

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MULCAHY STADIUM – Back track three weeks and the Goldpanners were at their lowest point of the summer after losing twice at home to the Anchorage Bucs and dropping to 1-4 in the League. Many around the club suspected it was the first time the ‘Panners had ever been swept in a doubleheader at Growden. But Fairbanks had a shot at redemption Monday. And it took advantage with a doubleheader sweep of its own in Bucs territory.

Mike Benson (14)

Mike Benson (14)

Mike Benson and Brett Marks dueled in game one. And Fairbanks’ bullpen eventually won out in a 2-1 victory. Marks, a Tennessee Volunteer, entered the game with a 2.01 ERA and left with an even lower mark. The Anchorage ace twirled seven one-hit innings and seven strikeouts. The only hit he allowed came in the fifth when Ryan Clark doubled home Mike Wieland to give the ‘Panners a 1-0 lead. Wieland reached on a base on balls before Hunter Villanueva bunted him over to second.

Like his counterpart, Mike Benson also lost his no-hitter in the fifth when he allowed the Bucs to tie the game with a run of their own. Mark Krueger lifted a fly ball to left field that just kept carrying all the way over the wall for an opposite field home run. The solo job led off the inning and was the first batter Benson allowed to reach base. The only other Anchorage batter to reach came on a Hunter Villanueva error. When the sixth inning began, each team’s runs/hits/errors line read “1-1-1″ and the score remained tied through seven innings, which meant extra innings with the doubleheader, seven inning format.

Mike Wieland (13-14)

Mike Wieland (13-14)

Still with just their one hit, the Goldpanners turned to their only source of offense all night when Clark doubled again. This time it led off the eighth against Bucs’ reliever Alex Godzak. Brandon Caruso attempted to bunt him to third when the Bucs catcher sailed a ball into center field on a pickoff attempt. Andy Crowley scooped the ball up in center and tried to nail Clark at third when his throw went into his team’s dugout to give the ‘Panners the go-ahead run without much manufacturing. Clark recorded his team’s only two hits, drove in the first go-ahead run and then scored the game-winner. And it all came from the nine spot in the lineup.

Luke Barker came back out for his second inning of work and got the last three outs cleanly to earn his third win of the year.

Despite the extra inning and a 30-minute break in between games one and two, the second game got underway earlier than expected following the tidy, hour and 50 minute game one. And the ‘Panners came away with another win in the fourth straight one-run game played between the two sides, 3-2.

A day after going 0-for in the State Farm ABL Home Run Derby, Jacob Hayes did it when it really mattered for his team with a two-run shot to begin the scoring in game two. Hayes turned on a fastball from Bucs starter Evan Manarino and lined a missile that just cleared the right field fence. Hayes would reach in all three of his plate appearances on the night.

Joel Belk (14)

Joel Belk (14)

Joel Belk followed Benson’s superb start with a great effort of his own. The ‘Panner righty picked right back up where he left off after an impressive showing at the ABL Showcase, throwing hard and controlling the strike zone. Belk allowed just one earned run over 5+ innings of work in the win.

But Belk got plenty of help from his catcher Eric Hutting. While Mike Wieland earned All-Star recognition, Hutting has shown the better arm behind the dish this summer and it paid dividends in the first inning of game two when he gunned down two of the three outs. First, Hutting nailed a runner at third who tried to go first-to-third on a wild pitch. Then he ended the inning catching an attempted base stealer at second. Belk allowed two of the three runners he faced in the first to reach, but he didn’t have to throw to anymore in the frame after Hutting’s work.

Anchorage got one in the fourth when Evan Powell scored all the way from first on a single that got through Scott Hurst in center. The error allowed the Bucs to get within one, but they wouldn’t get any closer. Brandon Caruso wrapped an RBI single into right in the next half inning and Belk got himself out of a jam in the bottom of the fifth when he picked a runner off of second with two men on and two outs.

Belk came back out in the sixth, which quickly spelled the end of his night. He hit the first batter he faced and then surrendered his first earned run with a double from Mark Krueger immediately after. Miles Chambers came into the game and did his job from there. Fresh off a save in the All-Star game, Chambers issued a walk to the first batter he faced before getting three consecutive ground outs. On the second out, he froze Krueger at third and ran him down himself for an unassisted putout at third base.

The Goldpanners threatened for some insurance in the top of the seventh with men on first and third and only one out, but Peter Lenstrohm got Scott Hurst and Vahn Bozoian to ground out to the third baseman. Hurst had his roughest day of the summer, going 0-for-7 with five strikeouts in the two games combined. They were also the first two games Hurst didn’t record a hit, as his 21-game streak came to a halt.

The missed insurance opportunity became a moot point when Chambers set the Bucs down 1-2-3 in the seventh for his third save on the season, which ties him with Luke Barker for the team lead. The wins put the ‘Panners up by 2.5 games in the American League before yet another doubleheader tomorrow. This time, Fairbanks travels to Palmer to play the Miners after the two teams’ twin bill was rained out on the last road trip. First pitch comes at 4 PM.

‘Panners Find Themselves on Winning Side in ABL All-Star Game

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MULCAHY STADIUM – Ten Goldpanners represented the American League in the 2014 ABL All-Star Game on Sunday. And it was the AL that left victorious with a 7-5 win.

Mike Grahovac (87-96-14) watches Alex Rubanowitz (13)

Mike Grahovac (87-96-14) watches Alex Rubanowitz (13)

Head Coach Mike Grahovac had the honor of managing the AL against a National League team made up of the best players from the Miners, Glacier Pilots and Chinooks. Grahovac had seven ‘Panner position players to call upon in the game and he penciled five of them into his starting lineup. Scott Hurst and Cody Nulph hit one-two and Vahn Bozoian DH’ed and hit cleanup. Tanner Pinkston and Mike Wieland also got starts at first base and catcher, respectively.

After a hitless start to the first three innings for both sides, the AL responded to an NL run in the top of the fourth with their own in the bottom half. Former Goldpanner, and current Oiler, Alex Rubanowitz drove home Andy Crowley of the Anchorage Bucs. And the AL broke things open in the fifth.

Cody Nulph

Cody Nulph

Cody Nulph singled home Mike Wieland after the ‘Panner catcher doubled to lead off the inning. And then with Nulph and Scott Hurst aboard, Crowley hit an opposite field grand slam to left. The slam was the first in ABL All-Star Game history and Crowley would go on to be named MVP of the game.

Despite leading the ABL in hitting at this juncture of the season, Jacob Hayes was one Goldpanner not to start the All-Star game. But he played the second half of the game in right field, walked and scored a run for the American League. Ryan Clark also came in at third base for the last half of the game and went 0-for-2.

Miles Chambers (14)

Miles Chambers (14)

Miles Chambers was the only Goldpanner to pitch in the game. Both Mike Benson and Tylor Megill were honored as All-Stars but didn’t appear in the game. Chambers earned the save with a clean ninth inning for the AL side. He pitched around a leadoff error to get a ground ball double play and then struck out the final batter to preserve the win.

With scouts on hand, the two sides played the last half of the ninth with the game decided and Vahn Bozoian took advantage. Bozoian launched a two-run home run to left center in his fifth and final at-bat of the night. The American League ended up scoring three in the inning to make it 10-5 including the unnecessary at-bat.

Vahn Bozoian (14)

Vahn Bozoian (14)

Earlier in the day, Bozoian competed in the State Farm Home Run Derby, but could not get out of the first round with only one home run. He was one of five contestants to tie for the final spot that would move on to round two, but he could not connect for any homers in the three-out swing-off. Jacob Hayes also participated, but didn’t manage a long ball. Chugiak’s Jackson Cramer claimed the title with a round-high five homers on just seven outs in the opening round. And he took down the Glacier Pilots’ Trevor Podratz in the championship.

For the rest of the ‘Panners, the All-Star festivities provided a nice opportunity to rest before a slew of games in the next ten days. Fairbanks plays a key doubleheader against the Anchorage Bucs at The Mulc tomorrow with playoff implications aplenty. First pitch of game one will be at 6 PM.

Goldpanners Go 2-0 in Showcase Games

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MULCAHY FIELD – With more scouts on hand Saturday, the Goldpanners had another seven innings to impress those assessing the players’ Major League talent. And Fairbanks walked away 7-1 winners over the Kenai Peninsula Oilers.

The pitching held the opponent to just a single run for the second consecutive game with more all-around effort. Jace Puckett got the start and did his job with two scoreless innings. The lefty allowed a leadoff double that Vahn Bozoian nearly ran down in his first start as a right fielder in quite some time. But Puckett sat down six straight Oilers from there, striking out one. Ryan Clark added a nifty putout on a slow dribbler down the third base line. The Santa Barbara infielder made the barehanded play to throw the runner out at first to steal a hit away.

Russell Harmening and Jayson Balades were next, each throwing two innings of their own. Kenai did touch Harmening for a run in the fourth that tied the game at one, but he allowed just the lone score while adding two strikeouts. Balades was even better – K’ing three over two scoreless innings. The ‘Panners didn’t concede a walk on the day.

After a slow start offensively, the Goldpanners earned Harmening the win with a six spot in the fourth. Five Fairbanks players recorded hits in the inning, capped by Cody Nulph’s eighth home run of the season. The two-run job gave Nulph sole possession of the team lead. Scooter Bynum tripled down the right field earlier in the inning to score a pair of runs and Tanner Pinkston added three hits in the win.

Luke Barker threw the final inning and made it quick. The ‘Panner closer got a quick ground ball out followed by consecutive strikeouts to bottle the win.

Tomorrow is dedicated to All-Star festivities. Bozoian and Jacob Hayes will take their cuts in the Derby, beginning at 1 PM. And the 10 Goldpanners to be named All-Stars over the weekend and will play in the league-wide game to follow.

 

Team Notes: Scott Hust DNP and his hit streak remains idle at 21. 

Wieland Doubles Home Winner in the Seventh

MULCAHY STADIUM – About 20 scouts were on hand to watch the Goldpanners take on the Miners for the 2014 ABL Showcase in Anchorage. And they were treated to some good pitching in a 2-1 ‘Panner win that took approximately an hour and 45 minutes.

The seven inning game does not count toward either team’s league record, but that didn’t stop either side from playing hard with Major League eyes on hand. Fantastic defense all around and just enough offense at the end was enough to earn the Goldpanners the win.

Cody Nulph led the run protection with a collection of fantastic plays going in all sorts of directions. Nulph made a great play to catch a pop-up reaching over the fence in foul territory down the third base line against the first batter Joel Belk faced all day. Belk went the first two innings for Fairbanks and allowed just one single while showing some nice velocity.

Andrew Buehler threw the next three innings after Belk and gave up the first run of the game when Jonny Locher doubled home a run with two outs in the fourth. But Buehler pitched around five hits in those three innings with six ground ball outs. Jacob Hayes manufactured the tying run in the next half inning after a walk and stolen base to set up a Mildenberg sac fly.

All of this happened before the Goldpanners got their first hit of the evening. Three Miners pitchers combined to throw five no-hit innings before Scott Hurst extended his hitting streak to 21 games in the sixth with an infield single up the middle. The second baseman knocked the ball down, but not before the speedy Hurst legged out his eighth infield hit of the year. He was stranded when Nulph bounced into a ground ball double play for the fifth straight game.

Just like the last time the Goldpanners visited “The Mulc,” Mike Wieland delivered the big hit with a wall-ball double to left field. Wieland doubled home Jacob Hayes, who again reached in the seventh, to put Fairbanks up for good. The two runs were enough for the pitching the ‘Panners got on this particular night.

Torgen Soderlund completed the sixth and seventh innings without much trouble to earn his first win. Nulph put the last two outs away with back-to-back putouts that clinched the win. The last took him over the middle of the infield to just nab Terence Connelly at first.

Pinkston Walks it Off in the Tenth

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GROWDEN MEMORIAL PARK – The Goldpanners said their goodbyes to the Growden Park fans on Thursday night and they sent them off with their most thrilling win of the regular season.

Tanner Pinkston

Tanner Pinkston

Tanner Pinkston hit a walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the tenth to give his team a 7-4 win. The victory was both the ‘Panners’ first walk-off home run of the season in their first game to go into extra innings.

Tylor Megill made his third start of the season, but couldn’t maintain his pace of winning every appearance (as a starter and reliever). The Miners put runners on base every inning against Megill, but the Goldpanners’ starter worked his way out of some key jams.

Tylor Megill

Tylor Megill

The 6’8” right-hander struck out Cam Newell with the bases loaded in the second to strand a Miner on each base. And then he nearly wriggled his way out of a similar situation in the fourth. After Mat-Su put runners on second and third with no outs, Megill struck out back-to-back batters before Newell came to the plate again. Megill got two strikes on the Mat-Su right fielder, but this time the Miners’ leading hitter delivered with a double. Two runners came in to score and give Mat-Su a 3-0 lead.

Jacob Hayes got the ‘Panners on the board versus Miners’ starter John Ferrendelli in the fifth with his sixth home run of the season. The ball cleared both fences in right center field. A walk and consecutive errors loaded the bases to set the table for Cody Nulph’s two-run single.

Chasen Ford

Chasen Ford

Chasen Ford came on in relief in a 3-3 game in the sixth and pitched very effectively. He did surrender the lead in the eighth when Hunter Villanueva’s error accounted for Mat-Su’s fourth run. But Ford went four and a third strong, giving up two hits and just the unearned run.

Vahn Bozoian tied the game in the eighth with an RBI single against the Miners’ bullpen. And the game went to the ninth knotted at four when Ford stranded another two baserunners to give his team a shot at the win in their half of the inning. But with two men on, Newell robbed Brandon Caruso of the game-winning hit with a diving play in right field.

Miles Chambers relieved Ford in the tenth with a runner on third and just one out, but the Cal State Fullerton flame thrower struck out Mat-Su’s three and four hitters, both looking.

Scott Hurst

Scott Hurst

After going 0-for-4 leading up to the at-bat, Scott Hurst took advantage of the extra frame, and one more at-bat, to extend his season-long hit streak to 20. A day after Cody Nulph’s streak ended at 19, Hurst’s infield single gave him 20 and put the leadoff man on for Fairbanks. After a sacrifice bunt and walk, Tanner Pinkston sent a high fly ball just over the left field fence. The ball barely cleared the first chain link fence and walked the ‘Panners off to the tune of 7-4.

The win concludes the Goldpanners’ home regular season with a 21-4 record and puts them back in sole possession of first place with the Bucs idle. Fairbanks takes on Mat-Su in Anchorage tomorrow in an exhibition for the ABL Showcase.