Eagle River's Zach Weller runs home with the winning run in Eagle River's 7-6 victory over Service on June 8 at the Loretta French fields in Chugiak. Eagle River which won just a single game last season won four of its first six games this year before slipping back to .500 with losses to Chugiak and South.
STAR PHOTOS BY MATT TUNSETH
Suddenly, the Eagle River baseball team has swagger.
"They're starting to believe," said coach Greg Frost.
Frost's comments came minutes after he got done shaking hands with an upbeat team that had just dropped an 8-1 loss to rival Chugiak. Though they didn't beat the Mustangs they never have the Post 28 American Legion team was still riding the high that came with winning its three previous ballgames.
"I think we've got the right attitude right now," Frost said.
Eagle River's three-game winning streak didn't come against any patsies. The Wolves took out West 9-7 on June 6 at Kosinski No. 4, handled Wasilla 9-5 at Loretta French Field in Chugiak June 7, then stunned Service 7-6 the next day at the same place. The string of victories pushed the team's record to a gaudy 4-2 through its first six games.
Last season's Wolves won one game all year.
Frost said pitching has been key to the team's fast start this season.
Travis Ahlgren and Wesley Bennice threw back-to-back complete games to get the wins over West and Wasilla; Brandon Metzel and David Fuller teamed up to stifle Service, a team that had outscored its two previous opponents 37-6.
"I've been very happy with the pitching," Frost said.
In the win over the Cougars, Eagle River's Colby LeBlanc rattled the chain link fence in left field with a two-out double on a full count in the bottom of the sixth to plate Zach Weller with the winning run. Fuller then got three of the next four batters to fly or pop out to end the game.
Another thing Frost has been happy with is the aggressiveness at the plate he's seen up and down the lineup.
"We had seven kids with RBIs in that game," Frost said.
The Chugiak loss may have ended the team's winning streak, but it didn't slow the Wolves down in their final game of the week, a 19-12 slugfest loss to South.
Eagle River pitcher David Fuller prepares to make a throw to first base during the Wolves' 7-6 win over Service on June 8 at the Loretta French fields in Chugiak.
STAR PHOTOS BY MATT TUNSETH
"We were going hit for hit with those guys," said assistant coach Rick Ayala after the Wolves fell to the high school state tournament champion Wolverines on June 11 at Kosinski.
Eagle River led 6-1 in the top of the third after LeBlanc crushed a three-run homer.
But South eventually fought back, ringing up four unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth to end the game due to the mercy rule. Even in defeat, however, the Wolves had plenty to be happy with. Kyle Frost went 4-for-5, Ahlgren was 3-for-4 with three runs scored, Ricky Ayala went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs and Greg Long had two RBIs.
"We hit significantly," Rick Ayala said.
The loss dropped Eagle River to 4-4 heading into their next five games: June 15 vs. Bartlett at 6:30 p.m. at Kosinski; June 16 vs. West at 6:30 p.m. at Mulcahy Stadium; June 18 for a doubleheader at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. against Fairbanks at Loretta French; and June 19 at Chad Bax Field (South Anchorage) vs Dimond at 2:30 p.m.
Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or email@example.com
This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, June 15, 2011.