Nick Ciolli Alaska Baseball League Top Prospect

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FAIRBANKS – Brint Hardy of Athletes In Action was named the Alaska Baseball League Player of the Year on Monday, while Anchorage Glacier Pilots manager Bob Miller won Coach of the Year and Pilots’ shortstop Joe Scott earned the Gold Glove award.

Prior to Monday afternoon’s 9-3 loss to the Glacier Pilots at Growden Memorial Park, Hardy, an outfielder from the University of Alabama-Birmingham, was leading AIA in most hitting categories, batting .392 with four home runs, 21 RBI and a slugging percentage of .545. He’s also exceptionally fast, with 22 steals in 23 attempts.

Hardy also received the Silver Slugger honor and joining him on the All-Star first team were Fire teammate Tobias Streich at catcher, and Alaska Goldpanners Raoul Torrez (third base), Matt Newman (utility player) and Nick Ciolli (top prospect).

Heading into Monday, Streich, from West Virginia, had the second-highest putouts for the Fire, with 134 and he was hitting .206 with 16 RBI, seven doubles and two home runs.

Torrez, Newman and Ciolli have to wait until today to improve on their statistics because Monday night’s scheduled game against the Glacier Pilots was rained out.

Ciolli is the Goldpanners’ second-leading hitter, playing in all 32 games while batting .352 with a team-high 44 hits. The left fielder from Indiana State also leads the squad with nine stolen bases and seven doubles, and has contributed 11 RBI.

Newman. from Arizona State, ranks third among Goldpanners batters at .328 with 14 RBI and a home run. He was also named to All-Star second team for starting pitching, and on the mound, the righthander is 2-2 with a 3.41 earned-run average and 19 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings.

Torrez, an Arizona State teammate of Newman, has a .930 fielding percentage and is hitting .227 with 14 RBI and a homer.

Also named to the second team were AIA shortstop Jonathon Merritt and designated hitter and utility player Kevin Winn, and Goldpanners outfielder Thomas Myers and relief pitcher Kyle Brule.

Miller has engineered a worst-to-first turnaround for the Pilots. A year after finishing 17-27, the Pilots are flourishing under Miller, who was with them five years ago.

They were 28-11 heading into Monday’s action, and have Wichita in their sights. Wichita, Kan., is where the National Baseball Congress World Series is held, and Miller led the Pilots to the 2001 championship and a 2002 runner-up finish.

Miller, who heads the baseball program at Cuesta Community College in San Luis Obispo, Calif., had a 100-67 career ABL record entering this season.

Pilots rout Fire

The sixth-place Fire (12-19 ABL and 15-21 overall) fell 9-3 to the Glacier Pilots after tying the game twice.

Athletes in Action committed seven errors, including a throwing miscue in the top of the fourth inning for the game-winning run by Todd Sebek, putting league-leading Anchorage ahead 4-3.

The Glacier Pilots (19-10, 29-11) tacked on five more runs over the last two innings.

AIA knotted the score 1-1 in the bottom of the first and 3-3 in the third.

It was the Fire’s third game in two days at Growden, following Sunday’s split with the Peninsula Oilers.

AIA won 8-7 in the resumption of a seven-inning game that was called Saturday night after the fourth inning because of darkness. Peninsula took an 8-4 decision in the regularly-scheduled nine-inning game.

The Fire play host to the Glacier Pilots at Growden on Wednesday with a doubleheader which begins at 5 p.m., and in a regular season-ending single game at 7 p.m. Thursday.

The Pilots and the Goldpanners meet twice today at Growden, starting at 5 p.m. with a seven-inning game to make up Monday’™s rainout, and it will be followed by the regularly-scheduled nine-inning game.

Tonight’s second game is Host Family Appreciation Night. The Goldpanners’ 2008 host families will be honored in a pregame ceremony, which also features a tribute to former Goldpanners radio announcer Lowell Purcell, who is suffering from cancer.

Some information for this report was compiled from the Anchorage Daily News

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