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Story Last modified at 3:40 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wolves, 'Stangs take different routes into the final week
Eagle River sweeps, Chugiak stumbles as season nears finish

BY MATT TUNSETH
Alaska Star

photo:Sports

Eagle River's Travis Ahlgren drives the ball during the Wolves' 13-11 win over Kenai Post 20 on July 9 at Oberg Field. Ahlgren picked up the victory as a pitcher in the game, going more than five innings as the Wolves recovered from an early 9-1 deficit to complete a doubleheader sweep of the Twins.
STAR PHOTO by matt tunseth

Eagle River's American Legion Wolves got their mojo back with a doubleheader sweep of Kenai Post 20 on Saturday, July 9 at Oberg Field in Peters Creek.

"We were doing the smart, fundamental things. That starts adding runs on the board," said coach Gregg Frost.

Frost's team won 6-3 in the opener before shocking the Twins with a come-from-behind 13-11 win in the second game. Eagle River trailed 9-1 after two innings, but Frost said the team battled back behind the pitching of Travis Ahlgren and the big stick of catcher Zach Weller.

Ahlgren came on as a relief pitcher in the second inning and kept the Twins from doing more damage.

"He kept us in the game," Frost said.

With the team on the verge of getting blown out, Weller then provided a huge spark with a 3-run homer in the third inning.

"That got us going," Frost said of Weller's big blast.

While Weller's homer was the key hit, Frost said his team actually got back into the game by doing the little things – taking pitches, moving runners across and being smart on the base paths.

"We just kept scratching back," he said.

In the opening game of the doubleheader, Eagle River got three solid pitching performances to keep the Twins at bay. David Fuller pitched six innings to get the win, Brandon Metzel worked two innings of relief and Wesley Bennice shut things down in the ninth to pick up the save.

"They got good defense behind them," Frost said. "Just a good, solid game."

The win gave Eagle River some momentum heading into its big showdown on Tuesday, an historic 17-8 win over Chugiak on July 12 (See story below). The Wolves finish the regular season with a 6:30 p.m. game tonight against South at Loretta French and a 6:30 p.m. game against East at Kosinski No. 4 in Anchorage.

Chugiak's Post 33 Mustangs entered Tuesday's showdown coming off a winless showing in the BP tournament in Anchorage that manager Bill Lierman said wasn't as bad as it looked.

"From a coaching perspective, I'm very happy with the way our guys played," Lierman said on Monday.

Chugiak dropped the July 7 tournament opener 9-1 to Dimond, which went on to finish second in the tournament behind Napoleon, Ohio, which finished its Alaska road trip undefeated. Justin Schneider, Conner Cimmiyotti, Chase Wilson and Bradley Cooper had hits for Chugiak in the loss.

The tournament's second game featured two spectacular pitching performances as the Mustangs' Cameron Fritz and Service's Zach Ferntheilv dueled.

Fritz allowed just a single run on five hits in six innings of work, but it wasn't enough as Ferntheil racked up 14 strikeouts for the complete game 1-0 shutout. Schneider, Cimmiyotti and Deven Ferriss were the lone Mustangs to scratch out hits.

Chugiak also managed just three hits in their meeting with Napoleon, falling 9-1 on July 9. Fritz, Wilson and Gareth Sexton had the hits for Chugiak.

Chugiak's best offensive outing came in its final game, a 7-4 loss to West on July 10. Nick Bozzo went 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs, while Wilson added two hits and an RBI for Chugiak, which finished with six hits.

The Eagle River game was the first of four games in four days for the Mustangs, a string that continues tonight with a 6:30 p.m. game against Bartlett at Oberg Field.

"We've got a busy week ahead of us," Lierman said.

Chugiak then plays a doubleheader July 15 against Fairbanks beginning at 3:30 p.m. before hosting Wasilla at 5 p.m. on July 17 in the final game of the regular season.



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