Alaska Baseball League Review — July 14, 2005
Collegiate Baseball Digest
We check in on the Alaska Baseball League the day after a standing-room only crowd was on hand for the 100th Annual Midnight Sun Game to see the Goldpanners beat Strike Zone of Omaha, Neb. 3-1
The historical game began at 10:30 p.m. and was stopped at the half-inning closest to midnight for the singing of the Alaska’s Flag. The game was played in its entirety without artificial light thanks to the summer solstice. Plenty of baseball people were on hand as the Baseball Hall of Fame was in charge of pre-game ceremonies and Hall of Fame Red Sox pitcher Bobby Doerr threw out the ceremonial First Pitch at midnight.
Dewayne Hankins catches you up on all the other action in the Alaska Baseball League:
Alaska Baseball League Standings (through June 22)
Athletes in Action Fire
The Fire dropped their third game in a row last night to the red-hot Kenai Peninsula Oilers after avoiding defeat in their first seven contests of the season. Shoddy defense has slowed the Fire down in the past few games but hasn’t stopped the Fire’s bats from a slight power surge as INF Luke MacLean (Minnesota) provided the team’s first home run of the season on Monday with a solo blast just inside the foul pole in the first inning. INF Josh Donaldson (Auburn) followed that with a three-run blast in the fifth inning of the same game. RHP Bailey Pratt (Birmingham Southern) leads the ABL with three victories.
Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks
Fairbanks RHP Matt Kasser (Washington) combined with Shannon Wirth (Mt. Hood CC) and Jared Joaquin (Lower Columbia College) for a two-hit shutout of the Strike Zone of Omaha, Neb. on Monday. The Goldpanners doubled up Omaha 6-3 in the 100th Annual Midnight Sun Game that ended early this morning and will go for the sweep tonight. 19-year-old RHP Matt Fitts (Long Beach State) has been baffling ABL hitters in two starts thus far going 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA. He has struck out 15 and allowed just one walk and six hits through 13 innings.
The storied history of the Anchorage Bucs begins another season, albeit somewhat slowly as the team is winless in two league games and 3-5 overall to start the season. The Bucs did have good news when two former players were selected in the 2005 MLB draft before the second round as RHP Wade Townsend went with the eighth overall pick to Tampa Bay and LHP Garett Olson went in the sandwich round (48th overall) to Baltimore. OF Jerin Harper (Pacific) leads the team with a .417 batting average, good for fourth in the ABL while OF Jason Matteucci (Santa Clara) is hitting at a .350 clip (10th in the ABL).
Anchorage Glacier Pilots
RHP Jeff Braun (Pierce College) has started the season with 10 scoreless innings over two outings including one start on the mound. He is 1-0 with two walks, six hits allowed and eight strikeouts. However, the rest of the Glacier Pilots pitching staff may be partly responsible for the team’s paltry 3-5 start (0-1 in league play) as they are last in the league in ERA at 5.01, a full one-and-a-half points behind the 5th-place Bucs (3.43). The Pilots’ bats are also off to a slow start as the team is last in the league in hitting with a .251 average as a team, 21 points behind the next team. Don’t blame RHP/OF Chris Jones (Texas A&M) though, whose .364 batting average is good for ninth in the ABL.
Kenai Peninsula Oilers
Three straight victories against the previously undefeated AIA Fire have made the Kenai Peninsula Oilers the hottest team in the ABL in the early going, the rest of the league hopes today’s off day will cool them down. The Oilers have gotten plenty of offense from having the top two hitters in the league, OF John McCarthy (Louisiana Lafayette) who’s hitting .429 with a league-leading four doubles and SS Nick Kleibert (Pepperdine) who’s hitting a blistering .536 with a league-leading 15 hits. Monday’s matchup saw the Oilers first long ball of the year as INF Jake Kauhelelio (Santa Rosa JC) hit a three-run homer in the second inning. Kauhelelio leads the ABL in runs scored and is third in the league with 13 hits.
As a team, the Miners lead the Alaska Baseball League with a .277 batting average and have the second-best team ERA at 2.02 which explains the teams 8-2 start in their first 10 games, they trail the Oilers by a half game in both the league and overall standings. OF Michael Taylor (Stanford) is off and running for the Mat-Su Miners with 11 stolen bases through the team’s first 10 games despite batting just .259 to start the season. INF Matt Bransfield (Notre Dame) has led the offense thus far with a .375 batting average, .542 slugging percentage and four doubles.