Friday night’s one-run loss to the Northwest Honkers motivated the Alaska Goldpanners in Saturday morning’s finale of the visitors’ season-opening summer college baseball series in Edmonds, Washington.
The Goldpanners charged to a 7-1 win Saturday to split the series at Triton Field at Edmonds Community College. The Goldpanners were coming off Friday’s 4-3 loss, during which they scored all their runs in the top of the ninth inning.
Alaska controlled Saturday’s contest with a 5-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning and a 7-0 advantage after its half of the seventh inning.
Bryant Nakagawa contributed two hits, two runs and two RBIs in three at-bats Saturday. Griffin McCormick went 1 for 5 with two RBIs and a run scored, while Ben McKay and Tony Riley each had two hits and a run scored. McKay also drove in a run.
Goldpanners manager Miles Kizer said he thought his team really built on the ninth inning Friday night to win on Saturday.
“We really kept that energy with us. We did a really good job of playing one pitch at a time,” Kizer said by phone Saturday.
“We didn’t score in the first inning (Saturday) but we had guys on base; we had guys on base pretty much the whole game. I think that started with the ninth inning Friday night of just getting a good taste in your mouth, to pressure on some people and kind of get those first-game jitters out of the way.”
Each team had nine hits Saturday and four Goldpanners pitchers combined to hold the Honkers to one run.
Starter Jacob Fricke threw four sharp innings to earn the win. The left-handed senior from Western Oregon University and Glide, Oregon struck out five while scattering four hits and walking two.
“We had four guys throw and Jacob Fricke set the tone early,” said Kizer, who’s also an assistant coach at Western Oregon. “He’s a strike machine and he’s going to be the same guy every time out. He’s super consistent.
“I think for the rest of our guys seeing him go out and be consistent helps them go out and be consistent.”
Tanner Inouye threw a one-hitter and had a strikeout during two innings of relief.
Matt Becker allowed two hits, Northwest’s only run, and had a strikeout while working in the bottom of the seventh. Joseph Riley threw a two-hitter and registered a strikeout during the last two innings Saturday.
Joseph Riley, who played with the Goldpanners last season, is Tony Riley’s brother.
Josh Collett took the loss for the Honkers after working the first five innings. He struck out four while allowing six hits, five runs and three walks.
The long ball helped the Goldpanners to the 5-0 lead.
McCormick made it a 3-0 lead in the top of the second with a two-run triple and he scored on Grant DeLappe’s grounder. Nakagawa drove in two runs with a double an inning later.
“I’m excited about this club offensively,” Kizer said. “I think there’s a lot of upside and I think for a lot of these guys they haven’t seen live pitching in a month.
“Now they’ve seen some live pitching and they’re going to get back into a groove. And we’ve got some really talented players and we have some great coaches.”
Goldpanners assistant coach Branson Trube, from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, also played in the season-opening series and fellow assistant coach Tyler Graham is from Oregon State University.
Nakagawa scored on a wild pitch in the top of the sixth Saturday for a 6-0 lead and McKay contributed an RBI single in the seventh.
An RBI single by Peter Dudnarkis got Northwest on the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh.
The Goldpanners begin a 12-game homestand Tuesday at Growden Memorial Park.
The Goldpanners face the Fairbanks Men’s League at 7 p.m. Tuesday and play the San Diego Waves at the same time Wednesday for the start of a six-game series.
The homestand includes a matchup against the Seattle Studs in the annual Midnight Sun Game at 10 p.m. June 21. The summer-solstice tradition is played entirely without artificial lights.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter: @newsminersports.