LAWRENCE-DUMONT STADIUM – The Goldpanners met a familiar foe Wednesday evening. And after sweeping three games at Growden Memorial Park back in June, the Goldpanners couldn’t beat the Waves a fourth time. Oceanside played its best game when it mattered most. And Fairbanks’ NBC World Series came to an end Wednesday night after a 4-3 loss.
The ‘Panners fell victim to the double play in the game’s biggest spots. Three twin-killings ended rallies in the third, fifth and seventh and helped Bob Kraft to a complete game win for Oceanside. Kraft struck out just two batters, but also walked only one.
Oceanside struck first in the first when Andrew McWilliam lined an RBI single down the first base line. The hit left men on the corners, but Joel Belk struck out the next two batters to limit the damage.
Belk’s outing wasn’t like his previous against the Waves at Growden Park when the Azusa Pacific right-hander struck out a season-high 10. But he didn’t pitch poorly either, as hit night was cut short by an error that preceded a two-out rally for Oceanside.
That came in the third when Ryan Clark backed up for the second hop on a ground ball down the line. Clark bobbled the ball, which gave the batter time to beat his throw across the diamond. The error loomed large after terrific defense from Clark all tournament leading up to the play. Three hits followed and Nolan Barraza’s two-run double made it 3-0.
The ‘Panners responded with a run in each of the next two innings. Hunter Villanueva knocked a two-out single into center to score Jacob Hayes in the fourth and Scott Hurst scored Ryan Clark with an RBI single of his own in the fifth. Hurst finished with three hits on the night, but Jacob Hayes grounded into a double play with two men on when Fairbanks threatened to take control of the game in that fifth inning.
Chasen Ford made his first appearance of the World Series with no outs and a man on in the fifth in relief. And he went on to retire the first nine Waves he faced. Ford did not allow a baserunner until the eighth when Oceanside put the first two men on with singles. An unearned run came across when Hunter Villanueva missed a ground ball to his left that skipped into right field. The Waves’ third unearned run of the game made it 4-2.
That gave the ‘Panners one last chance to extend their season in the ninth and Fairbanks nearly put together a big enough rally to send the game into extras. Villanueva and Paulino led off the inning with a reach on error and infield hit, respectively. And then Eric Hutting moved them up with a productive groundout. Ryan Clark’s sacrifice fly left the tying run on second for Scott Hurst. But the Goldpanners’ leading hitter sent a hot shot back to the mound that Bob Kraft stabbed. The Waves’ lefty underhanded to first for his second complete game of the tournament.
The loss ends the Goldpanners’ summer and extends the drought in the NBC World Series. The all-time leaders, with six titles, have not won one the tournament since 2002.