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Story Last modified at 11:03 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Above all, don't walk
Wolves pitchers struggle in weekend loss

BY MATT TUNSETH
Alaska Star

From Little League to the Majors, managers and coaches hate it when their pitchers can't find the strike zone. And for good reason: Walks kill.

Eagle River's American Legion Post 28 baseball team learned that lesson the hard way on June 4, dropping a 10-5 contest to Bartlett in which Wolves pitchers walked nine Golden Bears and fell behind 8-1 – after just three innings.

"Once you get those walks, a guy gets a hit in a hole that you can't touch and they're scoring runs," said assistant coach Rick Ayala, whose pitching staff issued 10 walks and hit three batters in the game.

Eagle River also dropped a 12-5 decision to Service on May 31.

Starter Greg Long lasted just a little over an inning, issuing six free passes before giving way to Zach Weller with one out in the second. Weller struck out two of the next four batters, but walked the other two and balked in a run to give Bartlett a 6-0 lead.

The Wolves got one run back on a sacrifice fly by Long in the bottom of the inning, but Bartlett went up 8-1 in the top of the third after four of the first five batters reached base against Weller, who was pulled for David Fuller.

Fuller found the strike zone, giving up eight hits, striking out two and walking just one in his nearly seven innings of relief. But the damage was already done, and even a four-run fourth inning couldn't make up for the early damage.

Shortstop Wesley Bennice had Eagle River's only extra base hit, a two-run double in the fourth.

Ayala said he wasn't overly concerned with the poor showing, and said the game could have turned out differently if Eagle River hitters didn't choose to hit 'em where they is.

"We've got to stop hitting the ball right at someone," he said. "Because when we're hitting it, we are hitting it hard."

The Bartlett loss dropped the Wolves to 1-2 and began a stretch of six games in eight days for the team, which also played on June 6, 7 and 8. Results of those games will be available in next week's Star.

The team was scheduled to have an off day today before squaring off against Chugiak at 6:30 p.m. June 10 at Oberg Field.

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com



This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, June 8, 2011.