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Story Last modified at 11:02 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mighty Mustang strikes out
Chugiak slugger can't always be the hero

BY MATT TUNSETH
Alaska Star

photo:Sports

Chugiak starter Chase Gall delivers a pitch during the Mustangs' 13-12 loss to East on June 4 at Oberg Field in Peters Creek during the second game of a doubleheader. The teams split the two games, with the Mustangs winning the opener 8-1.
STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH

At least they went down swinging.

A long, wet Saturday ended in sadness for the Chugiak Post 33 Mustangs, whose best hitter struck out with the bases loaded and the tying run on third to end a wild 13-12 loss to East in the second game of a doubleheader at Oberg Field.

Chugiak slugger Cameron Fritz – who won the Cook Inlet Conference's "Big Stick" award for being the most outstanding hitter during the high school season – couldn't come through against East reliever Austin Anderson, whiffing with a 3-2 count to close out the game.

"He had a little pressure on him," said Mustangs assistant Doug Henie, who said he wouldn't want any other hitter at the plate in that situation.

Chugiak had already staged a big rally to get Fritz to the plate. The Mustangs trailed 12-8 heading into the bottom half of the inning, but they made things interesting after first Alex Anderson and then Austin had strike zone issues. Alex Anderson started the inning by hitting Chase Wilson and walking Garreth Sexton to earn the hook.

Austin didn't fare much better, walking Conner Cimmiyotti to load the bases. The East pitcher then struck out Brad Cooper before Brad Pospeck earned another walk to cut the lead to 12-9. Anderson struck out Nick Bozzo, but Devin Ferriss followed with an RBI single and Cimmiyotti later scored on a wild pitch to Justin Schneider, who walked to set the table for Fritz.

The dramatic loss ended a draining day for Chugiak, which played 16 innings of baseball in their first doubleheader this season.

"The intensity was down a little bit," in the second game, Henie said.

Chugiak was in command of the game early, taking a 5-2 lead into the fifth before the T-Birds chased starter Chase Gall from the game and took a 6-5 lead in the top half of the inning. Henie said Gall had been cruising before running out of steam and letting East back in the game.

"He's got nothing but upside but he's got to get stronger so he can last a little longer," Henie said.

After Gall left, Chugiak sent a parade of relievers in to try to stop the bleeding. Five pitchers combined to give up 11 East hits, but the real culprit in the loss was a terrible defensive effort that saw Chugiak make five errors.

Chugiak's bats weren't the problem, as the team managed 12 hits, including triples by Schneider and Cimmiyotti and a 3-for-3, four-run effort by Sexton.

Though the second game was played in light rain showers, Henie said the field was in fine condition and said the Mustangs had nobody to blame for their miscues but themselves.

"This is perfect Alaska weather," Henie said.

More than the weather, Henie said the long day – the team arrived at the field at 10 in the morning and didn't leave until almost 8 p.m. – may have played a role in the team's sloppy play.

"A lot of it's mental," he said.

The day was far from a total loss. In the opener, Chugiak got two RBI from Schneider and Wilson in the 8-1 victory. Wilson also picked up the win by giving up just one run in five innings on the mound and Cooper worked two innings of scoreless relief.

Chugiak also played on May 31, picking up an 8-3 win over Bartlett. Though four games, the Mustangs were 2-2. Chugiak's schedule included games on June 6, 7 and 8 and one set for June 10 against Eagle River at Oberg. The Mustangs then get a day off June 11 before heading to Kenai for a doubleheader with the Post 20 Twins on June 12. Check next week's Star to find out how they did.

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



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