Eagle River Post 28 left fielder Collin Metzel is tagged out at first base during the Wolves' 7-1 win over East Post 34 on May 28 at Mulcahy Stadium. The game was the first of the American Legion baseball season for both teams.
STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH
Brandon Metzel doesn't rust.
The Eagle River American Legion Post 28 pitcher sparkled in his season debut on May 28, giving up just one run on two hits in five innings of work despite having not played a lick of baseball since last summer.
"My first time pitching (this season) was Thursday at practice," said the 19-year-old.
Metzel recently returned home from his first year at Upper Iowa University, where he was a wide receiver on the school's football team. He said he plans to transfer next year to the University of Idaho, where he wants to try to make the football team as a walk-on.
But that's all down the road. For now, Metzel is back focusing on baseball, where he's one of just three college-age players on a young Wolves team.
"It feels really good, actually, being able to throw a baseball," he said after striking out five batters before moving to center field in favor of reliever Wesley Bennice.
Metzel has beefed up significantly since his days at Eagle River High, and he said he's throwing harder than ever thanks to the rigors of a college-level strength program.
"I put on a lot of weight with football," he said.
Metzel's fine showing wasn't all Eagle River had going for it in the season opener. The team didn't make an error, and coach Greg Frost said he's hopeful steady defense will be a hallmark of the team's play this season.
"No errors, no mental mistakes that's what we're striving for all year," Frost said.
The Wolves got all they needed during a three-run first inning. They tacked on two more in the third and fifth innings, and Bennice allowed just one hit and struck out two in his two innings of scoreless relief. Colby LeBlanc went 3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI and Zach Weller added three hits for the Wolves, who had 11 hits in the seven-inning affair.
The day marked the season opener for all Legion teams, and Chugiak's Post 33 squad ran into a big pitching performance by South's Max Karnos, who struck out eight Mustangs in his complete game 2-0 shutout.
Conner Cimmiyotti and Gareth Sexton combined for four of Chugiak's five hits with two each.
Unlike in high school play, an early loss likely won't doom Chugiak to a lost season. Chugiak has 26 games on its schedule this season, including two in-season tournaments, while Eagle River is scheduled to play 25 games and in one tournament.
Contact Matt Tunseth at email@example.com
This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, June 1, 2011.