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Story Last modified at 3:43 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Eagle River gets first Legion win over Chugiak

BY MATT TUNSETH
Alaska Star

Eagle River's wait is over.

The American Legion Wolves finally got the old Mustang off their back, rolling to a 17-8 win over Chugiak Post 33 on a mist-covered Loretta French Field on July 12.

"Amazingly big," said Eagle River first baseman Greg Long following the win, the first in the team's six-year history.

Long was a beast at the plate for Eagle River, finishing with six RBIs on a pair of bases-clearing doubles.

The Wolves racked up 18 hits in the game and only trailed once – 1-0 after the top of the first inning. Eagle River quickly erased that deficit, picking up five runs in their half of the inning to commence the rout.

Eagle River coach Gregg Frost said the victory was big for his team because it removed a mental block that had long haunted Eagle River players.

"It's hard to put into words, it really is," Frost said. "It's just one more hurdle we needed to get over."

Wesley Bennice gave up 13 Chugiak hits over seven innings to earn the complete-game victory. Frost said Bennice wasn't overpowering, but hit his spots and changed speeds well.

"He kept them off balance," Frost said.

Eagle River looked like the looser bunch all night, and that attitude carried over to the field. The team's first three hitters – Kyle Frost, Kyle Youngs and Travis Ahlgren – each scored three runs, constantly causing trouble for Chugiak on the basepaths.

"They set the table for us," Gregg Frost said.

One of Ahlgren's runs came on a suicide squeeze, as he roared home from third on a perfectly-executed bunt by slugger Colby LeBlanc that made it 13-8 in the bottom of the fifth. One batter later, Long ripped his second double to deep left field to make it 16-8 and effectively put the game away.

Long said the difference between Tuesday night's win and all the other previous losses to Chugiak was mental. Instead of worrying about their history against the Mustangs, he said Eagle River just went out and played baseball.

"We didn't really talk about how special it was, we were talking about taking Chugiak as any other team," he said. "See the ball, hit the ball and go out and play defense like we normally do."

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



This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, July 13, 2011.